I keep getting asked how to do a lot of different things technology-wise. How to configure a smartphone or how best to achieve a certain goal, how best to start a new self-hosted blog and link it to Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics, Adsense etc.
So first off I’m going to tell you all about Dropbox and encourage you to get one, because quite frankly – everybody needs a Dropbox.
Get Free Dropbox Online File Storage
Dropbox lets you easily share your files between computers or your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry.
You can use it as your standard My Documents folder or just as a place to backup files.
When you sign up, they give you 2GB of free space. They also have a referral system where you can get an extra 250MB for each person you introduce (up to a maximum of 8GB free space).
Your referral must sign-up using the link in the email you send from your Dropbox.com account. Don’t be a loser and get 7 people to sign-up directly at Dropbox.com thinking there’s a box where they can enter your account ID to give you the credit – it doesn’t work like that. I found out the hard way.
Why is it free, what’s in it for them?
Dropbox also offer paid services with much larger space offerings for small businesses and large enterprises. The strategy is that they hope you’ll like it enough to want to pay for more space, or convince your company to pay for the service so you and your colleagues can collaborate more effectively.
File storage in The Cloud
You’ve probably become fed-up already of this term, ‘the cloud’. If you’re still unsure of its meaning, it just means on the Internet. It comes from the convention of the Internet being drawn as a cloud in diagrams which are used to explain how networks connect to one another.
So file storage in The Cloud just means storing your files on the Internet, Cloud Applications just mean programs which you access directly from the Internet without installing software on your computer.
You already use several of these; all web-based email programmes such as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail are Cloud applications.
Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are also all Cloud applications.
They differ from mere websites because they are actual programmes which allow you to store, retrieve, categorise, sort and delete data.
Although they seem very simple to you and me, they are huge massive complex programmes.
Signup to Dropbox
Signing up is easy. You enter your name, email address and choose a password – then you’re in.
The first thing you should do is download and install the free and very small Dropbox programme for your computer. I’ll tell you more about that in a moment.
You now have 2GB of free space permanently to store and share your files. If you sign up using this link you get an extra 250MB free.
(In the interest of transparency, that’s my referral link – if you use it to signup you get an extra 250MB and I do too).
Using Your Dropbox
There are 3 main ways to access and use Dropbox.
- Dropbox on the Internet
You can use the simple website access by logging in at www.dropbox.com and uploading or downloading your files. You can create, delete and move files between folders and also share any folders you choose between friends or colleagues.This is useful if you have to rush into an Internet cafe to access and print your boarding pass or something like that.
- Dropbox on your computer
Remember the Dropbox programme I said you should install? Well this is where the magic is. It’s available for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 as well as Mac OSX and Linux.
After a few clicks the programme creates a Dropbox folder on your computer, either on the desktop or inside My Documents. It’s just a normal folder which you use as any other but anything you put in there will be automatically uploaded to your online Dropbox.
So if you create a folder in there called Proposals and save a new file in there called Pay Rise Proposal to Boss.doc, a new folder will appear in online your Dropbox called Proposals and there will be a file inside it called… yes you’ve guessed it.
You can install the Dropbox programme anywhere you like and as many times as you like; at home, in the office, at your college or boyfriend/girlfriends place. Wherever you have it installed, your files will automatically be synchronized.
Personally, I’ve moved the entire contents of my My Documents folder into my Dropbox folder so that
a) it’s synced with my laptop and my desktop computer and
b) it means I have an automatic online backup of my files.
I’m protected if I’m burgled and my laptop and desktop are stolen. If you only have a laptop and it’s stolen, or your hard drive crashes, all your files are still available online at Dropbox.com or on other computers where you’ve installed the Dropbox programme.
You don’t even have to remember to do a regular backup as files are automatically synced each time you create or update them. But that’s not all…
- Dropbox on your smartphone
Dropbox also have an excellent app for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smartphones. This makes it simple and straightforward to access your files on the go.No more remembering to email yourself that report for the meeting, it’s already synced to your phone. No more having to connect a USB to transfer files for your presentation at work, they’re already synced to your phone – when you get to the office they’re already synced there too. Need to email your script to that producer today? Or those interview questions to that artist now? At 3am when you’re in a club? No problem, open the Dropbox app on your phone, attach the file to an email and send. Hassle free!
By installing the Dropbox programme on your desktop/laptop computer and the app on your phone, you have all the tools to ensure you have all your files synced wherever you go.
How about easily transferring those pictures you took on your phone to your computer to edit? Easy. Use the Dropbox app on your phone to upload them to your Dropbox space, then open your Dropbox folder on your computer and voila! You’ll never have to search for that USB cable or media card adapter again.
Sharing Large Files and folder with Dropbox
Sharing large files with friends isn’t easy. When you have a 165MB folder full of pictures taken from the party last night and want to share them with friends directly, instead of uploading them to Facebook, Dropbox can help.
Instead of using messy file sharing services like YouSendIt or RapidShare, just create a folder in your Dropbox and put them in there. Then choose the Share this Folder option to share the folder with your friends simply by entering their email addresses. Each will get an email telling them how to access your Dropbox so they can download their own copy.
And they can take their time, the files are there until you take them out of your Dropbox, whereas with the other sharing services there is usually a limit after which your files are deleted. It’s not just pictures, you can share any type of large file in this way.
So you can see how Dropbox can be so useful, it can literally change your life. It’s like carrying around a 2GB flash drive without actually having to look for it. And flash drives aren’t safe, if you lose it anybody can see your files (unless you have a password protected one). You can access Dropbox anywhere, at anytime with just your username and password.
Signup to Dropbox
Get started with Dropbox today. Sign-up here and download the Dropbox programme. If you have an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or iPad, check out your corresponding apps download centre to download the version of Dropbox for your phone.
Get 250Mb Extra Free
Sign-up to Dropbox here to get an additional 250MB space for free courtesy of LetsGoDeeper. It takes 20 seconds to sign-up. Within minutes you can be backing up all your personal files.
If you do sign up, drop us all a comment below to let us know how you’re getting on.