What: Dropbox, A cloud based service for storing, backing up, and sharing files. Where: http://www.dropbox.com, App Store: http://www.idez.com/dropbox-2/ Who: Everyone.Must.Have.this. For quite a while now, Dropbox has been the de facto standard for online “backup” on all of the aforementioned platforms. This phenomenal app is a simple, yet brilliant way to control the cloud. I quoted backup because, yes, Dropbox can be used for backup, in an advanced, purchased-storage way, but this app, and its associated cloud service, is so much more. The Pricing Structure: The price of Dropbox is as follows: The first 2 gigabytes is FREE. It is a great deal, and I have found that the more you use it, the more Dropbox will reward you with free space. Currently, I have 7.5 gigabytes of storage, and haven’t had to do a thing for it. I have never reached the limit of this space, yet. The next level is referred to as the “Pro” level. I love this option. 100 gigs, 99 dollars a year, and, for an additional 39 dollars a year, you get what’s called the “packrat” option, which is unlimited undo history. The pricing goes up from there, 200 gigs for 199, or 500 gigs for 499. There is another level, called “Teams.” Teams offers centralized billing, unlimited deletion recovery, phone support, and as much space as you need. The pricing of this is a little prohibitive, frankly, starting at 795 a year, for 5 users, and 125 for each additional user after that. One of the cool features of the Teams versions is that you can integrate with your companies Active Directory, and manage users that way. Essentially, your users would be created, and mirror your local network. Very cool and handy. The Cloud The premise behind Dropbox is simple. Create a quick user account, and you have online storage. That’s it. Install the app on your platform of choice, and you have immediate access to those files, and storage area. This is accomplished by creating a folder on your Mac, and when you copy files to that folder, they are quietly synced in the background to the Dropbox server. ON the mac, that quick access menu looks like this: (click the image for a larger version) This is really handy, out of the way, and easy to access when you need it. In version 1, when you clicked on this menu, you were given a choice of opening this folder, looking at recently changed files, and opening a simple preference pane. In version 2, this menu is beyond that. One of the really not-well known features in Dropbox, version 1 was the ability to share files with other users. This was a very handy feature, but to be honest, I had only used it a couple of times. In version 2, this feature is really pushed to the forefront, and man, is it cool. First lets look at the revamped version two menu: Nice look, simple and easy to understand. Very Intuitive. We have simple access to the entire Dropbox folder in the upper left, Dropbox.com in the upper right, My Most recently added/edited files in the main pane, a sync status in the lower left, and the familiar gear symbol for settings in the lower left. Here is where Dropbox 2 really begins to shine. Move your mouse over a file and a button appears: Click the button, and you are quickly brought to the Dropbox website, with your file in front. Click the share button, and this is what you’ll see: Put in an email address, a short message and click send. If the user id a Dropbox user, they will immediately be notified on their Mac/PC/iPad/iPhone/Android Device, that someone has shared a file with them. If they are not , they will receive an email with a link to download the file via the Dropbox website. Its that simple. How can this work for you? I can picture an office with mixed devices, PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android devices and other tablets, all using Dropbox as a collaborative service. Send and share files between one another, regardless of device, and receive files immediately. If you find yourself in a client’s office, in need of a folder of files that is on your local server, you can, with one quick call, have someone send you the folder via Dropbox, and within seconds, you’ll have it. Create folders on your Dropbox site, and manage your data efficiently, and quickly. Overview: All in all, there are a number of applications that provide these types of services. The thing that makes Dropbox, and namely this new version, the go-to, is simplicity. Once in a great while, a company takes a service that has been around for quite a while, and just manages to polish it so that it becomes very accessible to nearly every one, invisible, and part of your daily routine in the process. This upgrade pushes Dropbox to that level. I highly recommend that you try this service, at the free level, and please, as always, feel free to provide feedback on your experiences. Tom
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