Dropbox is my friend

Dropbox is awesome.  Go and get it, especially if you work with teams that must share files on a regular basis. Our app development team works from Montana, Sunnyvale, San Francisco, Woodside, and Palo Alto on a day to day basis, so its critical that we have some way to share the work that we do.  We tried a number of different web applications, and by far, Dropbox works the best.

What is Dropbox? It is essentially a web application that allows users to sync specific folders and files on their desktop to the internet.  Dropbox gives you 2GB of storage space for free and you can get 250MB of additional space for every new account that you refer to others.  Once you sign-up for Dropbox, you install a very small application that runs in the background of your desktop or laptop (essentially any computer you may work from). A new folder called Dropbox will also be installed and any folders or files that you drag into this newly designated folder will get synced to the internet.  The entire process is painless and takes about 5 minutes.

Once set-up and you’ve added files, you can log into your account through any Windows, Mac, and Linux computer via a web browser and you’ll have instant access to your files!  You can also share specific folders with different people on your team and anytime they update a file, the updates will automatically be synced back to your Dropbox account. As such, every file will always be up-to-date.  I just love the share feature as you can decide to share only specific content on a need to know basis. Another awesome feature is the ability to recover previous versions of your files (great for times when you’ve accidentally deleted something). Dropbox essentially keeps snapshots of all the saved changes in your Dropbox folder over the last 30 days. Oh, and they use very high level encryption technology to ensure maximum protection of all your files. Just be sure to use a strong password to manage your data.

For iOS users like most of you out there, there is also a universal iPhone/iPad app that you can use to access your files. It’s pretty neat to pull out my iPad during a presentation and be able to access and view nearly any of my documents.  Thus far, I’ve been able to open word, excel, PDF, and Powerpoint files.  I’ve tried OmniGraffle but unfortunately, that isn’t supported as of yet.

Here are the various files and documents that are viewable on Dropbox using the iPhone and iPad apps:

  • Images (.jpg, .tiff, .gif)
  • Music (.mp3, .aiff, .m4a, .wav)
  • Movies (.mov, .mp4, .m4v)
  • Microsoft Word documents (.doc, .docx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint presentations (.ppt, .pptx)
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (.xls, .xlsx)
  • Adobe PDF (.pdf)
  • Keynote presentations (.key)
  • Pages documents (.pages)
  • Numbers spreadsheets (.numbers)
  • Web pages (.htm, .html)
  • Text and rich-text files (.txt, .rtf, and many more)

Ease of use, accessible, version control, and security features makes Dropbox a winning productive tool in my book.  Whether it’s for sharing files with friends, family or colleagues in the work place, or simply to backup your data online, Dropbox really does simplify the entire process. It has certainly helped our team work more effectively and I’m certain that it can help you as well.

To get started, sign up here for a free Dropbox account (free up to 2GB, with paid subscription available for 50 and 100GB). Then, be sure to download the App for your iDevice. And of course, feel free to let us know how Dropbox has worked for you so far.

Ted Kao is the co-Founder and CEO of iCrowdApps. iCrowdApps is a iOS-focused application developer that crowdsources mobile app ideas from consumers. You can find me at www.icrowdapps.com/blog or via twitter @icrowdapps

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