Review of Dropbox for hosted file sharing and syncing

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Dropbox hosts, backs up and syncs files between computers. Other hosted syncing solutions are SugarSync, SpiderOak, etc. They can be quite useful at work to carry out collaborative projects. It may cut a great deal of email traffic and noise in business environments if used sensibly.

This is how the contextual menu of Dropbox looks on Windows 7

contextual menu dropbox windows 7

Files and folders can be accessed via a desktop application and a web site.

Computers synced by Dropbox - Website inter

They can also be shared between multiple users. I like that the software does its job without asking for lots of questions, or with a complex menu of settings and options. The software just pops up notices as often as files are changed. I wonder however what would happen if the same file is edited by different users or on different computers and then linked to Dropbox at different times. Which version would prevail, I imagine just the last one.

I use rsync between computers to keep all my data in sync. Dropbox in comparison servers just a single purpose in a very specific way and does it simply.

A less common feature is viewing previous versions. It allows to view the files’ change history and even revert to previous versions.

I will try to upload pictures to share with friends instead of overloading emails with attachements. A simple but not public URL should allow them access the photos. The problem is that accessing other people’s data might not be too difficult if their URLs can be guessed somehow.

The pricing of Dropbox start with a freemium 2 GB to get users to try it. There is a smart scheme going on by which you increase your free allowance by signing up referrals. The Pro 100 account costs $199/year. With most users just backup up their files on portable hard drives, I can only imagine the price tag of the Pro 100 account appealing to profesional users.

With Spotify announcing the virtual end of their freemium plan, I wonder how long would it take Dropbox to start charging for their basic plan. Fortunately there are a number of interesting alternatives to the very popular Dropbox worth investigating: Tonido, for example. Probably Tonido is not for me: it requires a permanent Internet connection always on and a computer with a hard drive always working or a Tonido device plug and on. This is my view is just a way of power for a family home where Internet and computers should be switched off at off-peak times, such as working hours or nightime.

LiveMesh, with remote access to computers from Windows operated ones, could be another alternative worth investigating.

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