Tools of the Trade: DropBox

Occasionally I come across a piece of software that completely changes the way I work. Such a program is DropBox which was introduced to me by Dr David Instone-Brewer of Tyndale House. DropBox allows you to set up a folder on your PC named “My DropBox”. Anything placed in that folder is immediately transferred (well the process starts immediately – the process takes a while) to a server in the US via an encrypted protocol. From there the contents are downloaded onto any other PC running DroBox and logged into your account. In addition, you can share folders with other DropBox users and even share content to anyone on the Web via publically accessible URLs.

Currently I work on my websites on my home PC, a laptop and on my work computer during lunch-breaks. Any work I do at lunchtime is on my home PC by the time I arrive. When my wife needs the PC I switch over to the laptop and the file I was working on is synced on there too! Just as useful is the folder sharing system. I remember sending copies of PDF files via email to editors for checking. You have to be careful not to exceed the email size limit and watch out not to completely fill the recipient’s inbox. No longer! Over the last year I have been able to transfer the contents of entire journals to the US and Australia in a matter of hours and have had others send me large amounts of data as well. There is also the peace of mind that comes of knowing that all my work is backed up and accessible via the DropBox website even if some disaster carries away all my computers.

DropBox is free if you need only 2.5GB, but you can buy more capacity if you need it. The paid version has a optional extra called “Packrat” that saves copies of all versions of every file that has ever been saved in DropBox. As you can imagine that is a useful feature for a web designer. Download your own copy of DropBox here and let me know what you think.

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