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DropBox – Foolproof filesharing

March 12th, 2009 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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dropboxI’ve mentioned DropBox briefly, but wanted to give an idea of how it can be used by writers. It is designed as an easy means of transferring documents automatically from one machine to another. And the key word there is ‘automatically’ – as long as you have an active internet connection you don’t have to turn on and off (most people), you never have to even think about it.

It works by installing a bit of software that allows a specific folder to be designated as your ‘DropBox’. The contents of this folder is then automagically uploaded to DropBox servers whenever your computer is on, including any changes you make. Anything on the server that has changed is also automatically downloaded.

Where it gets clever is that you can install it on several computers, and register those computers on the same DropBox account. So, if I’m editing a file in my lunch break at work, that sits in my DropBox folder, it will automatically get uploaded. Then, when I’m at home and I turn on my computer, the document will be automatically downloaded to my home computer. And it works on Mac (my work PC is a Mac), Windows (my home PC) and even Linux, and files can be sent between these different operating systems.

There is also a web interface, that tracks changes to documents, allows you to compare them and roll back changes! Plus, a way of sharing photos between family members and friends.

dropbox screenshot

Another use for writers might be as a collaboration tool – the same document can be updated among different writers.

Of course, some of you will be concerned over issues of copyright. I recommend you read the license agreement if you are worried. But, the quick and dirty version is that you own everything you upload, you agree that you own it, and you agree that it is your responsibility. And here comes another warning – it is not intended as a backup system, even though files are being stored on DropBox servers.

So there you have it. If you give it a go (or have done already), or have thought of another use for it for writers, let us know what you think below.