In praise of Dropbox

Every cou­ple of years, a new tech­nol­ogy has a big impact on how I work. Gmail was one. My iPhone was another. And I rank Drop­box in the same category.

I get three huge ben­e­fits in using Drop­box:

  1. All my files are backed up online. The house can burn down and I know I can still get my files. Also, if I’m away from my desk­top or lap­top, I can still access my files on my iPhone. Online backup is the only sen­si­ble backup strategy.
  2. My two main com­put­ers are kept in sync. When I fin­ish work in my uni office, I can go home know­ing that every­thing I’ve done dur­ing the day will be already on my home PC when I arrive home. And when I go to my uni office, every­thing I’ve done on my home PC will already be on my uni PC when I get to work. I never have to think about what files I will need; they will all be there.
  3. Drop­box pro­vides a sim­ple ver­sion con­trol sys­tem. Other peo­ple use ser­vices like github and bazaar, but I find them far more com­pli­cated than I need. When I edit or delete files, Drop­box keeps pre­vi­ous ver­sions in case I wish to restore them (up to 30 days nor­mally, but for­ever if you pay a bit more). With a cou­ple of clicks I can roll­back to a pre­vi­ous ver­sion, or down­load a pre­vi­ous ver­sion and use a file com­par­i­son tool to see the changes made since that version.

The best thing is that I get those ben­e­fits with­out any work! Once installed, Drop­box just does its stuff seam­lessly in the background.

For up to 2Gb, it is free. I pay $99 per year for 50Gb. If you sign up as a result of this post, you get an addi­tional 250Mb free (and I get another 500Mb — although I’d say all of the above regard­less). Avail­able for Win­dows, Mac or Linux.

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  • Luiz

    I couldn’t agree more

  • Kian

    I agree. A month ago, I have tried Drop­box and found that the backup is faster than Sync­plic­ity. I have since moved all my files from the lat­ter to Dropbox.

  • najmi

    I’ve been using the free ver­sion, now almost reach­ing the max 8GB. + I use Mer­cu­r­ial inside for my LaTeX file commit

  • rgm

    ditto, its great. And with selec­tive sync you don’t have to have every­thing on each computer.

  • Pavel Holoborodko

    Few appli­ca­tions for iPad can sync with Drop­box too: GoodReader (pdf viewer), Paint­Text (text edi­tor), Tex­tas­tic (code editor).

    Which is very con­ve­nient – I can read papers/​books, update notes or even code in the train while commuting.

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  • Patrick

    I don’t agree. I find that git together with Github works best when run *inside* Drop­box. Upload snap­shots of your code to a pri­vate repos­i­tory (you get a few free ones for edu­ca­tional accounts) and you get the ben­e­fit of scrolling through **the whole** his­tory of your project. It also pro­vides another layer of data redun­dancy and secu­rity. The most impor­tant thing is the com­mit mes­sage you attach. It makes sure you know what you did in any par­tic­u­lar ver­sion. I found the tran­si­tion hard, but absolutely worth­while and I’ve become much more pro­duc­tive as a result.