The price is right!

And, in my opinion, so is the feature set.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been auditioning products for storing and/or sharing digital files. I want to stop carrying thumbdrives with me wherever I go (mostly so I don’t have to worry about losing them), and I don’t want the frustration of realizing that the file I need is on my desktop computer or on the thumbdrive I managed to forget at home. I’m also leading a few basic Photoshop workshops, and I want to be able to get lesson files to participants in advance so valuable face-to-face time isn’t taken up with downloading and accessing files.

For one reason or another, I’ve been disappointed in other products I’ve tried, but over the weekend (at a workshop having to do with Photoshop’s adjustment layers; see screenshot) a friend told me about Dropbox.

After some experimentation, I’ve concluded this is exactly the tool I’ve been wanting. Here are a few of the things I like about it:

  • Installation is easy, fast, and free and, best of all, it’s unobtrusive. Unlike some of the other products I tried, it doesn’t attempt to take over my computer by installing its own toolbar or sponsored search engine and it doesn’t add itself to my computer’s startup menu. The installed product creates a folder on the computer’s hard drive and places its icon in the system tray, but it is otherwise hardly noticeable.
  • It has options for private files, sharing a folder with a group, and sending a link (e.g., via e-mail) to a file in the “public” folder. One of the features I like most is that link recipients don’t need a Dropbox account of their own to access a link I send.
  • When you are logged into your Dropbox account on a computer with Dropbox installed, files can be opened and edited in their native applications without having to be downloaded.
  • The product is accessible on computers that don’t have Dropbox installed, though it is necessary to log in to the account, download the file, make changes, and then upload the file to the Dropbox space again.
  • There’s a Dropbox app available for most popular mobile devices—so now it’s only a click or two on my phone to remind myself of the name of my favorite eyeshadow color or to look up the details of the prescription and over-the-counter meds I take.
  • Once a file is saved to the Dropbox space, its contents are updated on any other device used to access files stored on Dropbox (so the eyeshadow color I see on my phone is always up-to-date!).
  • Space and file size don’t seem to be an issue. The initial free account provides 2GB of storage, and I’ve been able to post and share a 75MB .psd file via Dropbox’s linking methodology.
  • Dropbox offers a referral bonus so both parties to a referral are given an additional 500MB of storage up to a total of 16GB—that’s some serious storage!

Posted for the inaugural Third Thursday Challenge at How to Feather an Empty Nest. Check out Brenda’s site and know that you are welcome to add your own take on creative challenges—photography, photographic post-processing, writing, or whatever. I’ll look forward to reading (and learning) from you.

6 thoughts on “The price is right!

  1. I want…I’m visiting from Brenda’s Third Thursday Challenge! And, wow! Your post is so helpful! You have explained it beautifully and it’s given me pause to consider getting it. I will let you know! Thanks, and have a wonderful day!

  2. I’m coming from Brenda’s Third Thursday Challenge. Thank you for this information on Dropbox. It is on my list to check out, but I keep moving it down on the list. I travel a lot and get tired of bringing numerous external drives with me. It sounds perfect. Thanks.

  3. We use Dropbox within the family to share photos – and it’s great. I’ve enjoyed your elucidation of some other features I had not really taken account of. Yes, isn’t it nice to use something which doesn’t want to cannabalise your hard drive!

  4. Wanda – thank you for joining the first Third Thursday Challenge – and for expanding the definition in ways even I didn’t envision. I love it – a way to help each other solve creative challenges!

    I am also a Dropbox fan, using it to exchange files with graphic design clients that would be impossible to share via email because of size. Your comprehensive review of the features makes it easy to understand the benefits of the service. Thank you for sharing your experience with the TTC community!

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