Dropbox – A Dissertation’s Best Friend

For the past few months I’ve been greatly enjoying the ability to sync files between my PC laptop, Mac laptop, iPhone and the web and can’t say enough about how excellent Dropbox is.

Dropbox installs on your computer and appears like a folder. You work with it like you would any folder. You can drag and drop files into it, save files directly to that folder, etc. However, when you put files into your Dropbox folder, those files are automatically synced to your secure and private Dropbox account where they are stored offline (and even versioned).

I’ve been using it to backup important documents and also store files I’m actively working on, such as my PhD dissertation – something I want to ensure gets automatically backed up with every change.

I’ve also noticed that I stopped putting files on thumb drives when going between my work, school and home computers. I just store the files I’m actively working on in my Dropbox folder; I load them and work with them from that location. When I save the file, the changes are automatically made available to me on any computer that I’ve installed Dropbox on. So I can start a document at school and then pick up where I left off at home, or vice versa.

It even came in handy once when I needed to show a PowerPoint presentation to a colleague. I didn’t have a copy with me but remembered that it was in my Dropbox folder. So I used the Dropbox iPhone app to load the presentation so I could show it.

Dropbox also allows you to share folders. I’ve started using Dropbox to exchange files with my ecology and informatics colleagues. What’s great about this option is that once someone shares a folder with you (and you accept their invitation), the shared folder appears in your computer’s Dropbox folder and the files any authorized user puts into that folder are automatically synced.

So if I want to share a file with my colleagues, I just save it to one of my shared folders and the file syncs to the web and then automatically syncs with each colleague’s’ computer when they are on the internet. Dropbox even displays a pop-up a message letting me know that new files were added or updated to my shared folders.

Dropbox will give you a 2GB account for free; no strings attached and no credit card required.

Once you sign up, you can invite your friends and colleagues to join and earn 250 MB of free bonus space for each person that signs up. You can do this to get a maximum of 8GB of free space (something that I’m obviously trying to do by posting about it).

But really, everyone I know who’s installed Dropbox has loved its ease of use and functionality. So I encourage you to try it and if you click one of the links here you can help me earn more free space 😉

5 thoughts on “Dropbox – A Dissertation’s Best Friend

  1. One more note: I learned that if you are with an educational insitution, Dropbox will double your free space and double the amount of free space you get from referals. Just go to: http://www.dropbox.com/edu and enter your .edu email address in. This works even if you have an existing Dropbox account which you didn’t use your .edu email address to sign up with.

  2. Here’s another good reason to use Dropbox: Versioning. I mentioned that I regularly just store files in my Dropbox folder and let Dropbox sync them in the cloud so that I can ensure that I always have a copy. Well I didn’t mention that Drobox also keeps track of the edits to those files. So if you need to restore a previous version, you can. For example, I was working on a presentation this evening and accidentally deleted several slides without realizing it. I discovered my mistake much later after I had already saved the presentation several times. In this case undo won’t work, but I was able to right-click on the file in the Dropbox folder on my laptop and select the option to “View Previous Versions”. A couple of clicks later I was able to download a version that was saved before I accidentally deleted those slides so I could then copy the slides back into my current presentation.

    • Hi Jaime, I’ve added a follow button to the blog home page, so you can subscribe to updates by email. Thanks for your interest.

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