Writer-tech: Dropbox

I wrote a few weeks ago on my blog, Writerly Goodness, about my purchase of and experience with the Galaxy Note II and the ASUS Transformer.  I offered some links at the time to the posts that I perused to learn which apps would be best for writers.

One app that appeared on every list, without exception, and that came highly recommended, was Dropbox.

What is Dropbox?

From the developer’s site:

“Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Dropbox was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, two MIT students tired of emailing files to themselves to work from more than one computer.”

In other words, Dropbox is an online file storage and information management service. 

You can, and are encouraged to (more on that in a minute), install Dropbox on all your computers, tablet, and smart phone.  All of these installations sync up, and when you put files into Dropbox on one of your electronic devices, it is available to every device that has Dropbox installed on it.  Update a document on your desktop?  Dropbox ensures that the changes are available from all of your devices.

This amazing little app makes it possible to work on multiple computers at multiple locations without having to email yourself the document, or carry around your precious work in progress (WIP) on a vulnerable USB or another, clumsier storage transfer device like an external hard drive.

You can also protect your work by having a back up of your important files on Dropbox, one that will be accessible even if your hard drive goes kerplewie.

Dropbox is a boon to students, professionals who travel, and, of course, writers.

Signing up and getting started

When you visit the Dropbox site, you are presented with the following screen:

Dropbox signup

The Dropbox download and signup page.

First, download Dropbox onto your computer.  Follow the instructions, step-by-step.

Then create your account.  The download actually prompts you to do this, but if you accidentally close the wrong window, you can easily create your account by returning to the Dropbox site. 

It’s as simple as entering your name, email, and creating a password for the service, and, viola! you have a Dropbox account.

Once you enter your account, you will be presented with the Get Started page.

Dropbox Get Started

The Dropbox Get Started page.

The standard installation will offer you 2.25 GB of space, but as you can see, you can complete a few painless activities to obtain additional space. 

Installing Dropbox on additional computers and other devices are two of these activities.

You don’t have to complete any of the activities if you don’t want to, but each one will give you additional gigs to burn.

If your main purpose in using Dropbox is document management, then you will likely not exhaust even the standard 2.25 GB.  Go ahead, check out the total file size of your documents folder (I’ll wait).  See?  If you’re managing picture and video files, that’s another story.

I’ve been using Dropbox for a few weeks now, and have found it easy, convenient, and reassuring.  Dropbox is secure, and you don’t have to worry about toting storage devices around.  Your work is always waiting for you on the internet and you can access it on the road, any time you need.

10 comments for “Writer-tech: Dropbox

  1. February 18, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Melanie,
    I agree. I’ve been using it for a couple of years and I love it. Although I do have another back-up for my files, it’s so much easier to access it without having to get my external drive out.
    –Linda

  2. February 18, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks, Linda.
    Actually giving Dropbox a bit of a test this week. Travelling for work and haven’t brought my usual USB full of documents with me 🙂 Will let you know how it goes.

  3. Heather Button
    February 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I have the same phone, but I haven’t tried Dropbox yet. How are you finding it on your phone itself?

    • February 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      I have access to the same files on all of my devices. The key, however, seems to be having a better office suite than the standard Polaris Office that comes with most Android phones. I’m checking out Kingsoft Office right now, and it seems to interpret my Word docx’s much better. The biggest issue is the size of the screen. Even with the Galaxy Note, it’s difficult to strike the proper balance between seeing the page, which I find I need when I write, and seeing the text. So working with a doc on my Galaxy wouldn’t be my first preference, but I could do it in a pinch 🙂

  4. Sopphey
    February 19, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I love Dropbox. I use it as public file management tool. Similar to having a server with files. I share PDFs via a link. It works great and bypasses some of MediaFire’s free sharing limitations.

    • February 19, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      Sopphey, this sounds like something I’d love to hear more about 🙂 Could I entice you into a follow up post on advanced Dropbox? We’d have to fling it by Lori, but I think it sounds fabulous.

  5. juliatomiak
    February 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I love Dropbox too. It’s a great place to store things that you might need on the go- like receipts, directions, etc. I’ve used it for about one year. I have found that you cannot edit documents in the mobile version of Dropbox, but that’s okay. I’m using it mostly for back up storage or the small documents I mentioned above.

    • February 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      Editing the documents has more to do with what office software you have installed, rather than on Dropbox itself. Kingsoft Office seems promising for me on the tablet. On my lap top, everything works wonderfully, but I have MS Office installed on that. Microsoft seems to dislike the Android platform for some reason though and doesn’t want to play nice, so we have to look for alternatives 🙂

  6. February 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Great article, Melanie! I downloaded Dropbox not long ago to use as backup. I haven’t synced it with other devices yet, so you’ve encouraged me to do that. I need to figure out how to share with others’ computers, too. Still have lots to learn, but it’s easy so far.

    • February 19, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      The best way it to install Dropbox on each device separately. Once you install, it should automatically sync up. Glad you liked the article, Gerry.

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