In the modern world most people have multipe machines that they work on (one at work, a home desktop and maybe a notebook). Trying to manage all of your files and folders can get very hard and complicated – for example; you’ve just finished creating the presentation for the CEO and you arrive at work but you forgot to email it to yourself.
Dropbox is the answer. Dropbox was started in 2007 and has a great and active community around it. Dropbox is a menu-bar app that syncs your stuff between multiple computers, from right inside the Finder.
When you install Dropbox on your Mac (or PC or Linux box) you are requested to create an account. This is the account that all of your files will be kept in. If you have multiple email addresses it’s probably best to use the shortest one because every time that you log in to the Web interface, you will have to enter it (I made this mistake and am deeply regretting it).
Once you have set up your account, you will be taken to your “Dropbox”. Your Dropbox is a folder that by default is in your home directory. Anything that you put into this folder will be beamed up to the Dropbox servers and also sent to your other computers (assuming that you’ve installed Dropbox on them)
There will also be some sub directories inside the “Dropbox” folder. They should be “Photos” and “Public”. Photos allows you to create photo galleries that anyone can see. You just create another folder inside the “Photos” folder and drag your photos into it. You can then just right click on the sub-folder inside the “Photos” folder and you can get a link that you will be able to give to people to let them view your photos with out downloading them.
The “Public” folder allows you to pop files into it and using the same steps as above, get a link that you can give to people to give them assess to a file without emailing it.
Also, in Dropbox you can setup Shared folders with other Dropbox users. This puts a folder in both of you Dropboxes that whenever it is changed on either end, the change is reflected on the other persons computer. I use this with in Blue Pyjama, we have a shared Folder where all of our applications and games are kept so that we can all have access too them.
Another great part of Dropbox is the fact that it understands symlinks. A symlink (or symbolic link) Dropbox is a type of alias. The way that I use this is that I have a folder in my home directory called “School”, in my Dropbox I have a symlink to it, allowing my at get to my school-related files whenever I need them.
The web part of Dropbox is crucial to it’s success, you can login at http://www.getdropbox.com and see all of your files, add more files, change them, move them and copy them from anywhere on the planet*.
The best thing about Dropbox is that it’s free. The only thing about the free version is that you are limited to 2GB of storage. If you want to pay $99 a year (or $9 a month) you can get your storage upped to 50GB! I have decided to stay with the free plan, mainly because I don’t need all of that space.
Dropbox is a great peice of unintrusive software that does so much. www.getdropbox.com
*That is, anywhere on the planet with an internet connection, a computer/web device and electricity