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Top Five Uses for Dropbox

Top Five Uses for Dropbox

We recently compared the Dropbox cloud file storing service with Apple’s MobileMe (read the article here).  Still new to using Dropbox we asked veteran user @ColinNapier to take us through his top five uses of Dropbox.

The way I see it, people fall into 3 categories. Those who have never heard of Dropbox (of which you can no longer claim to be one), those who haven’t tried DropBox, and those who love DropBox. I have to admit when I read about it at first I thought “What on earth would I use that for?”.


However once you install and start using it, you find new little uses for it all the time, and all of which just make using your computer(s) that bit more enjoyable.

DropBox is a service that gives you online storage space (2GB free). You can then access this via the web, or much more usefully using their application.

The DropBox app simply installs itself as a small client program that runs in the background, and a folder on your computer. This folder acts just like any other folder on your machine, which is why DropBox is so great, everything is seamless and it just works.

As you drop files into this folder, they are uploaded in the background to your personal space on the DropBox servers, and then subsequently will automatically be downloaded again to any other computers you have it installed on, so that all machines are kept up to date and in sync.

As this is a Mac focused site, I will be including uses for the DropBox iPhone app.

1. Have your files with you all the time

There are a multitude of ways DropBox can be used for this. You can install it on multiple computers, to keep your most used documents available at all times. Take a spreadsheet for example. You work on it on your desktop, save it in the DropBox folder. It magically gets synced to the web/cloud.

Then you can be on the road with your laptop and the latest version is in the DropBox folder there too. Or you can access it on your iPhone if you need to have a quick look at something before a meeting and don’t have the laptop with you.

And if all else fails and you have no devices with you, you can get to your files on any machine with a web browser!

2. Share your photos

With DropBox you also have a “Photos folder”. This allows you to drop photos into it for others to see on your online gallery. This could be a great way of not only having your photos backed up and available on all your computers, but also to share photos from your iPhone of a holiday or trip with friends and family.

3. Turn your iPhone into an eBook reader

This is one of my personal favourite uses of DropBox. I have a folder named EBooks, and I simply drop PDFs into it. These may be books, sometimes they are useful articles I have turned to PDF from the net, or maybe instruction manuals I want to read when I’m not at the computer. I can then view these on the iPhone.

Better than that, the iPhone app has a button to mark files as a “favourite” which keeps a cached “offline” copy on your phone, allowing you to view the file even when you have no net connection.

4. Backups

DropBox is a great way to do backups of your documents. The best thing is that it is all automatic, so you don’t have to think about it (a great type of backup, as most people can’t be bothered backing up until it is too late!).

If you delete a file on your computer, it will delete from DropBox and therefore all the other machines your DropBox is on. However you can go to the DropBox website and view your recent file changes, and revert back to previous versions.

The other major benefit of DropBox for backup, is that it is “off-site” backup, which means if your house was destroyed with ALL of your computers, your data is still safe in the cloud, and can be downloaded easily when you get your new computer!

5. Syncing Mac Programs

I know TotalApps are big fans of Mac, and big fans of GTD software. So this little gem is for them! Say for example you use Things for your GTD. Currently it doesn’t support syncing to multiple machines. However if you put your Things library into the DropBox folder, that means that Things will be constantly synced AND backed up on all your Macs.

DropBox is available for all major operating systems. It is a free download, and when your register you get a free 2GB account.

There is no reason not to sign up, it is such a fantastic service, and 2GB will keep all of your text based documents safe for free. Then if you want to expand to keep your music etc safe also, you can buy one of their larger packages.

Better still Dropbox increases your online storage for everyone your refer so if you sign up using this link Colin will gain few extra Megabytes of online storage.

Colin’s Blog

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