In this guest post from Vick Guthrie she outlines how freelance writers can use Dropbox to organize their work.
Dropbox is a reliable and simple freeware file hosting service which uses cloud computing to store and transfer your computer files and data. Any file you sync to Dropbox will be available on any computer by logging into the cental website. Alternatively, (or as well as) you can download their software, to make your files available as in a local file. You can sign up for 2GB of free space, and Dropbox promotes sharing by offering you extra space to invite others to join (5.25GB max free space). If you need more than the offered free space, then for a small fee, you can purchase extra storage. The great thing about it is that it doesn’t require any technical knowledge in order to use it. You can use Dropbox in so many different ways – this is what makes it more than just a file syncing service.
I was grudgingly signed up to Dropbox by my computer-whizz boyfriend, who wanted extra space for his own account. He’d been mentioning it to me for months, and I kept putting it off, meaning to have a look at it, but never really finding the time. So when I did eventually get around to trying it out, I was impressed, to say the least. Dropbox is now essential daily equipment for me – as much as, or possibly more so than my pen!
Dropbox provides you with more storage than the average computer user will ever need. A great way to use the service is to back up your entire computer onto it, as it saves the lengthy task of backing up your data to discs, and that way, you can access anything you need from any location.
You can also keep all of your passwords saved on Dropbox with a piece of software/freeware called KeePass. It is a free open-source password manager which keeps your passwords secure using encryption so you only have to remember one password to unlock the rest. KeePass is a great tool — who can remember all their passwords for their emails accounts and website logins?
Uploading to Dropbox is as simple as dragging the relevant file into the Dropbox folder. It even has an ‘restore previous version’ feature which means that if you accidentally delete a file, you can retrieve any earlier saved version of it. This works by keeping track of your files every time they are updated. To retrieve earlier versions or deleted files, simply log into your account on the website and select ‘Show deleted files’. The only downside is that you can’t access your files if you don’t have access to the Internet.
Freedom and Portability
In this day and age, with so many outlets for accessing the Internet, accessibility and mobility are essential to any freelancer. Whilst you can download the Dropbox freeware onto your computer, you don’t need to, you can just log into the website and download the file you need to work on, then upload it again once you’re finished. This is ideal for accessing your information from various different computers and devices and means no forgotten USB sticks ever again!
As well as synching your files, you can access portable applications from Dropbox for use on every major platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) – extra handy if you’re meeting with a client and need to show them a presentation!
Sometimes, when uploading a file the conventional way just isn’t appropriate, you can upload your data by emailing it to your account. This is great if you’re out and have written notes on your phone that you want to be available elsewhere.
Dropbox even provides a free application for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones which means you can view your data from your phone.
One of the highlights of Dropbox is that it’s a great collaborative tool – perfect for sharing drafts of work with clients, making and tracking changes quickly between a variety of different people in a range of different locations. More than one person is able to work on the same document at the same time and it will save both copies to ensure you have a copy of each. Plus, you’ll be pleased to know, signing up to access a shared folder is quick and painless (and free).
TIP: If you’re like me and one for getting easily confused when you have more than one version of the same file, put a shortcut to your Dropbox folder on your desktop and use it as you would ‘My Documents’.
It appears Dropbox is quite the handy little piece of web based file management solution! My only niggle is that when viewing you files online it won’t show you thumbnails of images. Also, if you have installed the Dropbox folder on your computer, every time you add something, it will upload it to ALL your synced up computers. If you don’t have Dropbox, download it, you’re missing out. You’ll wonder how you lived without it!
So, have you used Dropbox? What do you think of it?