A favorite tool of mine that helps me manage my myriad of scattered web design files and applications is Dropbox. This article discusses my top three uses for Dropbox. Before we get into that I would like to point out that Dropbox is a must have for every computer user for the following reasons:
After you install Dropbox on your local machine you will have a Dropbox folder that behaves just like any other folder except that its contents are synced up to the Dropbox cloud in the background while you work.
The upload speed to the cloud can be astounding. This is because Dropbox is intelligent and will not upload the same file if someone else has already uploaded it. Rather, Dropbox will just cross-reference your account to the existing file. If the file has been changed recently, it will only upload/download the changes rather than the whole thing. What this means is that you can drop a 1GB file into your Dropbox and it is possible that it will be uploaded in just a few seconds!
Dropbox keeps a history of all deleted and earlier versions of files for 30 days minimum. Therefore, if your file becomes corrupt or gets deleted accidentally, you can easily return to a previously saved version using the web interface.
- Secure Storage
Dropbox is secure. All transmission of file data occurs over an encrypted channel and all files stored on Dropbox servers are encrypted (AES-256)
Dropbox can be accessed from Mac, Windows, iPhone Android and Blackberry.
You can share Dropbox folders to friends. Anything you put in your shared out Dropbox folder will also appear in your friend’s corresponding Dropbox folder. You can also share photos by providing a link. When friends click on the link they can view your photos as a slideshow.
Here are my top three uses for Dropbox:
1Password is the premier password management tool for Mac OSX, Windows, the iPhone and Android. It allows you to generate strong, unique passwords and store them with corresponding usernames and other login details. After opening 1Password and selecting the web page you want to log on to, 1Password will automatically open the browser, fill in username and password fields and log on for you.
1Password has been engineered to sync with Dropbox. With 1Password and Dropbox you are combining a robust and powerful password manager with the ability to share passwords between multiple computers including mobile devices such as the iPhone. Install 1Password on each computer / device and when you add a new password it will be automatically synced to the 1Password application installed on the other machines.
Using TrueCrypt you can create a secure, encrypted volume inside your Dropbox. Alternatively, you can have your Dropbox folder inside a TrueCrypt volume. Each method offers different advantages:
TrueCrypt volume inside Dropbox folder
This method offers ultimate security and ensures that files will be stored in an encrypted state in the Dropbox cloud and also on each computer. Install TrueCrypt on each of your computers with which you use Dropbox and then create an encrypted TrueCrypt volume inside one Dropbox folder. Wait for all your computers to sync up and then test mounting and dismounting the volume on each computer to ensure everything is working as expected. The initial sync may take some time, but subsequent syncs should be fast. With this method you must unmount the TrueCrypt volume before it can be uploaded by Dropbox.
Dropbox folder inside TrueCrypt volume
This method ensures that files in your Dropbox folder on your computer are encrypted. They will not be encrypted in the Dropbox cloud or on other computers that sync with Dropbox unless you encrypt those Dropbox folders also. This can be useful for example, if you have one computer in particular that is more vulnerable to theft (maybe a laptop that is out on the road a lot) and you don’t feel the need or want the hassle of installing TrueCrypt on the other computers. Install TrueCrypt on the machine that is to have the Dropbox folder encrypted. Mount the volume and then install Dropbox. Specify the mounted volume as the location where you would like to have your Dropbox folder.
- Portable Apps
Rather than carry all your portable apps around on a USB Key, you can share them between different computers using your Dropbox folder.
It can be very convenient to have certain utility apps available to you on the all the computers that you use without having to install them on each one. Small and useful applications such as Beyond Compare, NotePad++, SnagIt and Toad etc can all be installed once into a folder on your Dropbox and automatically synced across all the machines you use.
If you don’t already have Dropbox you can get a free 2GB account plus 256MB EXTRA free by clicking here.