This dropbox review takes a closer look at the services that dropbox cloud storage service has to offer and suggests 3 must use tips on how to efficiently use dropbox. I’ve already blogged on how you can share multiple files easily using dropbox. I’ve already compared dropbox and the newest kid in block, in cloud sharing, wetransfer. I’ve yet to review drop box. It’s about time I did.
Caveat: I don’t work for dropbox and I’m not getting paid to write this review. I’ve used the service extensively, over the last two years, to share files with my transcription clients. However, I’ve only used their free service and never found the need to upgrade to a paid service (quite pricey @ $10 a month!).
Update: Finally found a need to upgrade my dropbox account to Pro. Paid $100/per and so far not much to complain. I have to say that dropbox speeds have improved in the past year. i sometimes get download speed of about 7 Mbps, which is impressive considering I have a 7.2 Mbps connection. I am sure with more bandwidth I would get higher speeds.
And in the last few months Dropbox has set the maximum storage for pro accounts at 1TB! That’s a lot of space. I’ll never need to delete anything from my dropbox account- unless I want to. I’ve yet to test the simultanious editing of documents in dropbox -so I can comment if it has improved.
What is dropox? The dictionary definition of a drop box is a secured receptacle or container where you can drop off or store stuff. The keywords here are secured and drop off. As a cloud based service, dropbox is basically data storage space hosted on Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). Dropbox allows you to store and share any type of digital file in cloud. This means if you have an internet connection, you can always access it anywhere, anytime. It’s a great place to store your CV, photos, music and videos!
But that’s not all. Dropbox has a myriad of features which makes it usage limitless. Dropbox creates a link to each file that you can share with anyone. This allows you to share large files via email. You can, with dropbox, sync files between two devices; a mobile phone and your laptop, for instance. You can backup files into your drop box account, including your WordPress blog. Hell, you can run a website from dropbox! Dropbox also has a two step verification system that you can use for sensitive data, for instance in academic research.
To start using dropbox, you need to create an account. You will require a valid email address and your account is always linked to that email address. But you can change this later on. To reiterate, all you need to create a dropbox account is a valid email address that you have access to. That’s it! After creating an account, you will need to verify the email address in order to activate the account.
Why I hate dropbox
With so many uses, and the simplicity of access, what’s the downside to using dropbox? While writing this dropbox review, three things straight away jump to mind.
- Your maximum storage space for your account is a measly 2GB. Most other cloud storage services offer at least 5GB. Having said that, there are various ways you can increase your limit while using a free account to around 16GB. In addition the maximum file size you can upload using the web interface is 300MB. With the desktop app, the limit is determined by the free space in your account.
- The automatic sync does not always work! Recently a client uploaded some video into our shared dropbox folder. A few days later he emails me to ask when he could expect the transcripts back. I checked the folder and there was nothing. This is a first time that this has happened to me, but it seems to be one of the major complaints about dropbox.
- Slow. I mean really slow. Top speed I’ve ever attained with a download was around 1.5Mbps. Average is around 500Kbps on a good day. That means that a 200 MB files usually takes an hour to download, a 1GB file takes 5 hours. With drop box, patience is a virtue that’s richly(?) rewarded.
Making Dropbox Work for You; 3 Tips
A few tips on how to make dropbox work for you; how I’ve come to love dropbox.
- Install the desktop app. After creating an account, this is the next thing you should always do. There’s a windows app, a dropbox mac app, and various apps for mobile devices. There are so many advantages to installing the app. The drop box folder acts like any other folder on your desktop, but it’s linked to a cloud storage service. You can drag and drop files into it, delete files. One of the great advantages of a desktop app is that it downloads and uploads files in the background. In addition, you can stop it at anytime and resume whenever you want and it will pick up from where it left off. Imagine you’re uploading a 1GB file. You’ve uploaded 90% of the file and something happens and you’re disconnected from the internet. No worries, when you get reconnected, hopefully a few seconds later, the upload continues from 90%. With all other cloud based services that I’ve tried out, I’ve always had to start uploading the whole file all over again. If I’m uploading or downloading a large file, I usually leave the app on overnight and come morning, the file is done, guaranteed!
- Use selective sync. This is an advanced future that enable you to choose which folder you want to sync on a device. However, it only works with folders and not specific files. For instance, I have a folder with my personal stuff on dropbox. I only sync that with my laptop and phone. Whereas on my desktop, I’ve synched all of my project folders which I don’t need on my mobile. I find this feature to be really useful and it keeps me organized. Another related cool feature enabling Lan Sync. If you’re using a local network, this enables you to sync file superfast between devices.
- Undelete. If you delete any files in your account you can undelete them. If you wish to completely delete a file, you will need to permanently delete the file. This is because dropbox backs up all files in your account. For a free account any file deleted in the in the last 30 days can be undeleted. With a paid account, and using Packrat, you can undelete any file (not retrospective). Keep in mind that any file that you delete does not count to your account storage limit! This is a great way to store files above your account limit.
In conclusion, I find drop box to be the best free file storage and file sharing service. In this dropbox review, I’ve tried to explain why. It has its limitations, but it’s versatility is a huge plus. However, I never backup files in drop box. I always create a local copy of the files in dropbox and create a local backup of that. I never make changes, edit or work with files in dropbox. That’s a very bad idea. Dropbox is very poor at dealing with simultaneous changes to a document. Google Drive has this feature nailed down. Now that I think of it, what are the features of dropbox you never use, and why?