How Dropbox Changed My Life January 26, 2010

I had a life changing experience.

OK, little clarification needed here. By reading some of the latest posts titles, one might think I have a rather small life. In fact, it’s the opposite. I just have many lives. Many many. The main one evolves around my wife and my son. Then there is the one around Mac Computers (which, itself, includes many others), the one designing, the one coding, the one listening to music, the one watching movies, and so forth.

Well, recently, some of these lives, Computer and Data related, have been profoundly altered by a not-so-new service called DropBox.
DropBox takes your data and put it in The Cloud (a very fashion word to say on a disk somewhere on the Internet…)¬†and once it’s there, you can then synchronize multiple machines with said data.
Let’s say you have a machine at work, another one at home, plus a laptop you carry around when you’re not in one place or the other.
Well, you install the DropBox app on these machines, select the folder acting as the DropBox and let the magic happen.
Data get sent on DropBox servers, and then copied back on the other machines.
It’s the new version of that USB thumb drive collecting dust in your pocket.
You also have a clean web interface to browse and download your files, for when you don’t have one of your machine at hand, SSL secured.
That was the original idea.
Since, the Dropbox team has been busy. The list of feature is long and keeps growing.
Versioning system. To access any previous version of your files ; LAN sync. Your machines will recognize they are on the same network and transfer files directly, bypassing the internet, thus greatly improving transfer rates ; iPhone app. Free, you can browse your drop box, and even open and read a whole bunch of supported files (image, music, movies, text, presentation, pdf) and upload photos or movies from your camera role (the closest thing to a Finder the iPhone has) ; Sharing. Specific folders and files can be public, enabling easy collaboration or punctual sharing ; Free. Not really a feature per se, but still very cool. 2Gb just by signing up. 250b more if you come from an affiliate link, and 500Mb more if you are the one bringing a new user.
Paid plans are not cheap, $99/year for 50GB, $199 for 100GB, but considering the amount of services, it’s fair.
Future development look promising too. The team setup the Votebox, a place for user to vote for the next features to be implemented. There are some great ideas, one of them being an API.

So, now that we have taken a quick tour of Dropbox services, lets see in what way it changed my way of working and organizing my digital life.
First, I got rid, once and for all, of all the thumb drives that were sitting all around my pockets.
It may seem trivial but for someone like me, always trying to consolidate stuff in pockets, it’s a big deal.
The great thing is that data stays on the local disk. Allowing you to use files just like any other. I put just about everything on my Dropbox. It has my web development folders (git repositories included), my graphic design files, my clients projects and every tools and documentation I use regularly (or not).
I use it to transfer data from one point to another, also: Need to bring home 500Mo of files ? Drop in in the box and leave. By the time you get home it will be on the internet, and, given your home computer is awake, it will be there too.

In the end, I’d say that Dropbox brought me peace of mind.
In the same way that, since the iPhone, I leave home without knowing where I go precisely: I’ll look it up on the way ; I leave home, without wondering if I will need any given file. I have them all available.
If you want to try Dropbox, and would like to enjoy 250MB of free (in addition of your free 2GB),use this link.