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SOFTWARE

Dropbox: No-Nonsense Online Storage
By: Barzan "Tony" Antal
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    2008-10-20

    Table of Contents:
  • Dropbox: No-Nonsense Online Storage
  • Tell Me More!
  • More, More, More!
  • Concluding Thoughts

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    Dropbox: No-Nonsense Online Storage - More, More, More!


    (Page 3 of 4 )

    You can always check out the contents of your Dropbox folder by logging into your web-based interface. This is especially useful with public computers.

    As you can see from the above screen shot, each file is accompanied by the time it was last changed. I've clicked on the grey text that said "show deleted files" so you can also see the deleted files. Each folder or file has a little grey arrow next to its name. Clicking on it will give you various options: restore file/folder (if deleted), share, upload here, download as zip, download file, restore files, revisions, and such.

    Moreover, if you are on a public computer or limited-access system and you cannot install the Dropbox client, then you can still upload files via the web interface. You can choose the destination folder, browse the files, and there you go.

    The share option in the web interface has numerous capabilities. That's where you can "invite" people to "share" specific folders of your choice. As I said, if the user is already a Dropbox user, then your shared folder appears in his or her Dropbox, but if not, s/he is invited to join this wonderful service as well. You can add more than a few collaborators for a shared directory.

    The gem of collaborative work is that, assuming your friend/co-worker is editing some of the shared files, then as soon as he/she finishes, overwrites, does some changes, or anything like that, you are instantly notified and synched with the new versions right away. It's especially amazing that at any time you can look back through the revision history to resurrect earlier versions. Backing up is unnecessary.

    The above screen shot exemplifies the way Dropbox suggests the purpose of each folder. You can see two icons accompanying the Shared Folder, the little earth globe on the Public folder, and that camera image on the Photos folder. Those white check marks inside green circles mean that the folder is currently synched-no uploading/ synching is happening at that moment. 

    when browsing your files via Windows Explorer (or OS X alternative), you can right-click on a file or folder, which brings up the context menu from where you can pick various options such as "Revisions" or "Copy public link." The latter is for files that are placed into the "Public" folder; in this case, your public URL is copied into the clipboard and you can share it with the entire world by pasting that link. That's all. Cool, huh?

    Since we have finished the presentation of Dropbox's features, it's time to discuss some related points. Right at the moment each Dropbox member has 2GB storage space. This is more than enough to share documents, photos, music, and all sorts of extra data, even to collaborate on lots of stuff. You shouldn't abuse  this free service by trying to share full movies or really long videos-at least not yet.

    Dropbox, as I already mentioned, is in the public beta state right now. As soon as it reaches its final state, apparently, the free service will remain as it is, but a new additional paid account type should appear with more storage space and enhanced sharing capabilities. Dropbox servers are using Amazing S3 for the storage backend. They handle stupendously large amounts of data seamlessly. Upload speeds are also really great.

    However, it is really critical to grasp the Dropbox concept of "data storage." The fact that they store your files on an online repository is true but along with that, your data is synched and stored on each and every system that you have the Dropbox client installed. Basically, in a "worse case scenario" your data is always safe and could be re-synchronized anytime to the Dropbox servers.

    Security shouldn't be a dilemma either because Dropbox's transmission is based on the secured https protocol (binary differentiation and compression) and the storage on Amazon's S3 servers is encrypted with AES-256. Security is guaranteed.

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