Puget Systems print logo
Read this article at https://www.pugetsystems.com/guides/435
Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

My Favorite Products: Dropbox

Written on April 6, 2012 by Brett Nordquist

Over the next few months I plan to share with you specific products and services that help me be more productive. I prefer simple, elegant solutions to complex products bogged down by every feature imaginable.

It wasn’t long ago that the task of moving files from one computer to another required a CD burner, flash drive, or emailing them to yourself. If you were savvy, maybe you shared files over a network. Today that scenario is made more complicated with the proliferation of smart phones and tablets that often do not share the same file structure or network protocols.

I have a PC at home and another at work along with a smartphone and tablet. There are times when I want to access a spreadsheet from my tablet that I created on my work PC. Or maybe I have pictures on my home PC that I’d like to show a friend from my smartphone.

Dropbox is the product that makes it happen.

There are a number of programs that provide similar functionality, but I’ve not discovered one yet that provides a more elegant and simple solution across all my devices.

When I installed Dropbox, it created a folder on my desktop. Anything I save to that folder gets synchronized to my work PC as well as my smartphone and tablet. It also saves those files to the Dropbox website where I can access them from any browser. And because my files are saved to the servers at Dropbox, I have created an effective offsite backup of those files.

Dropbox folders on my Windows 7 PC Dropbox folders on my smartphone

The last feature I want to mention is public sharing. Say I create a slideshow I want to share with my brother. Instead of attaching a large file to an email, all I have to do is save the file to my public folder on Dropbox. When I right-click on the file, Dropbox creates a public URL which I share with my brother who can then download at his convenience.

Dropbox works on Windows, Mac or Linux. It also has mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry. Dropbox provides 2 GB of storage space for free. Additional plans are available for those who require more storage starting at $9.99/month for 50 GB.

There are few products I refer to as indispensable, but Dropbox is one of them. Give it a try, and I’ll bet you’ll wonder how you got by without it.

What's your favorite file sync product?

Tags: Dropbox

I totally agree!

Posted on 2012-04-07 14:32:12

I use Microsoft Live Mesh myself.  It is the same concept, but you don't have to sync to the cloud (though it is still an option).  When only sync'ing between your own PCs, you don't have a size limit.  Without a size limit, I end up syncing a lot more (my desktop, documents folder, etc).  I do think DropBox has better polish and sharing features though.

What makes this a "killer app" for me is using the programs from PortableApps.com, and sync'ing that folder across my PCs.  Portable apps is a collection of applications designed to run standalone (no registry entries, and all DLL files and such are in the same folder as the EXE).  It is designed for people who want to run programs off a USB thumb drive.   You get your instant messaging, web browsers, email, SSH utilities, FTP accounts, etc all set up, then take them with you from PC to PC.  With a product like DropBox, you no longer need the thumb drive.  If I set up a new server in my putty application, it instantly syncs that new account setup to all my PCs.  If I have an instant messenger conversation with someone, the history logs sync to all PCs.  It means that anything I use that is a portable app, it no longer matters where I use it.  It is very handy!

Posted on 2012-04-07 18:04:45

Microsoft Mesh was the first file sync product I used and I really liked it. There was a time when Microsoft moved away from it (tried to get people to use SkyDrive?) and renamed the product, and I decided to try Dropbox and haven't left. I've heard that the original Mesh is back  though so it's certainly worth a try. I hadn't heard that you could disable the "sync to the cloud" feature which would be helpful for some. 

I've stuck with Dropbox because of it's overall polish on both Windows and iOS devices. 

Posted on 2012-04-07 18:39:33
Daniel Brown

I use the Ubuntu One cloud storage service.  It works very similarly to what you've described of DropBox.  I believe it has clients for the major OSs, although I've only tried the Windows and Linux clients.  They give you 5GB free, so that's pretty cool.

Posted on 2012-04-10 01:18:41
Jerry Kay

My personal favorite file sync product is definitely Dropbox which you have already detailed. My professional favorite is SyncBlaze which I have been using from recent times and highly satisfied with its offering. It doesn't stop with file sync, we can actually manage multiple sources of content viz. bookmarks, notes, embedded video, google apps, et cetera. May be we can call it as a one-stop-content-management-solution for businesses. 

Posted on 2012-04-17 05:53:37

For high security I use www.spideroak.com.  They maintain a zero-knowledge system unlike Dropbox and many others, which means that even they can never read your data.  They simply do not store the keys required to decrypt it.  They also have sharerooms and other goodies for creating exceptions where you can easily share data with others, and they're a small business too.

Posted on 2012-04-18 21:20:14

It'll be interesting to see how Google Drive will change this space.

Posted on 2012-04-24 18:52:55

I've been testing Google Drive and the updated Microsoft Skydrive and, although both provide more initial free space and some nifty features, I still prefer the simplicity and polish of Dropbox. Skydrive approaches the simplicity of Dropbox, but I still don't trust a service that's changed direction and names as often as they have. Google Drive appears to be quite powerful and the integration to Google Docs (with the ability to save docs for offline viewing) is quite slick. But Dropbox still works best for my setup of desktop PCs and two iOS devices. 

Posted on 2012-05-17 21:49:04