Dropbox is considered by many as the best cloud-based storage service around, but one thing it does lag behind is the relatively paltry storage space offered to its free users (2GB compared to 5GB from Box.net and Skydrive’s whopping 25GB). Well, faithful Dropbox users will be happy to know that they can score up to 5GB of extra space by simply beta testing the new Automatic Dropbox Photo Import feature.
During this beta period, we are also offering additional free space to test automatic uploading of photos and videos. For every 500MB of photos and videos automatically uploaded, you’ll receive another 500MB space bonus, up to 4.5GB total. [Update: To clarify, you can get up to 5GB of free space with this feature, if you count the initial 500MB space for the first photo import].
The beta build in question is Dropbox 1.3.12, which can be downloaded from the Dropbox forum. After installing the beta on your PC/Mac/Linux computer, plug in either a camera, SD card or smart phone and you should see a popup (screenshot above) asking if you’d like to start importing photos and videos into your Dropbox (a new “Camera Uploads” folder will automatically be created). The moment you import your first image(s), Dropbox will handover 500mb of free space. Then for every 500MB of media uploaded, another half gigabyte will be added to your allotment. Repeat until you’ve hit the 5GB mark.
I’ve tested the beta version by plugging in my iPhone and so far, the entire process has been seamless. In fact, I can’t think of an easier method of moving images from my Camera Roll into my Dropbox. To make things even more convenient, only new photos/videos will be uploaded whenever a device is plugged in, so no need to worry about having to upload your entire library every single time.
If you do decide to test out this new Automatic Import feature (and make off with some extra space while you’re at it for storing ebooks and other docs), it’s highly advisable that you make a backup of your Dropbox before proceeding – just in case something does go seriously wrong.