June 2, 2010 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: business, creativity, design, Internet, tech.

DropboxWhen Jeffrey Zeldman said he was using Dropbox on twitter many moons ago you just knew it was going to be useful – 2Gb of free external storage.

I signed up to his invitation link and we both got an additional 250Mb of storage space and then that was it – I sat on Dropbox and didn’t use it for months.

(If you’d like an invite, sign up here – it’s free)

Then in March the hard drive catastrophically & terminally failed on my #1 laptop.  Not only did I lose quite a few personal files but also files for my work and for my employer too.  Plan B was to make better use of my 1Tb external hard drive to regularly back up important files. Plan C was to see how Dropbox might fit into my workflow.

Since using Dropbox my habits have changed and there’s certainly peace of mind. It tends to be used for current work-in-progress projects so when I drop a file into my account from my #2 laptop it syncs with an external folder (great for backing-up files off-site) and is available on any other machines that I link to my Dropbox account. So it doesn’t matter where I am, which machine I’m on, as long as the file was deposited in Dropbox, it’s there to be shared, used and updated.  When you move to another machine after working with a file, Dropbox has already synced the file. Neat.

I’ve also been using Dropbox for collaborating with clients. One client gave me a CD of images and then needed the CD returned suddenly. Because this was impractical I suggested they sign up to an account, install the software on their desktop and I deposited the files in a folder to be shared. Perfect. Since then they’ve been adding files to the project regularly.

Another case where Dropbox came in really handy was when I received a phone call about some potential work. Because I was in a London restaurant at the time everything had to be done by phone and it was lucky that I had the file I needed in Dropbox *and* the app on my phone. I was able to email the file from my phone and successfully got it to the person then carried on eating my lunch.

So, as a designer or techie, having Dropbox in your toolkit is very handy. The standard free account has 2Gb of storage but if you take my invitation you’ll get another 250Mb free.  You can invite friends and get up to 8Gb of free storage. If you need more, then there’s the 1Tb Pro account for less than a tenner a month or the team versions starting at 2Tb and going up to unlimited stoarge. (These accounts used to be measured in Gigabytes when I first posted this, now we’re in the Terabyte territory)  Dropbox has been a godsend, so if you haven’t already done so, give it a whirl!

Alternatives are available: Google Drive, Microsoft’s One Drive…

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2 comments on “Dropbox

  1. We early adopters get 10gb external storage…I have a paid account, but I’ll be ditching it once I figure out which files to lose.

  2. Just checked – got 3Gb of free storage but haven’t even used up 1Gb despite a huge amount of photography shared between a couple of clients. Obviously the [human] file management system is working efficiently 🙂

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