I got a beta invite to Dropbox last week and have been playing with it ever since. You can think of Dropbox as a free version of Amazon’s S3 service. It allows you to sync any files from your computer, PC or Mac, to there web interface. But unlike S3, any changes make to any file in your Dropbox will will be updated on any computer that has that file. Lets dig a little deeper.
To get started you have to install a small file on your system and it sits in your tray. You then link through there site your computer to your Dropbox. After that your ready to go. On Vista it puts a new folder inside your Documents folder called My Dropbox. On a Mac it’s under your Home folder. Now your ready to share.
Public vs. Private
To start any files that you have are private and can only be seen and changed by you or any computer linked to your Dropbox. But if you wish to share a folder with another user its as easy as making a new share folder through the site and putting in the email address of the person you want to share it with. But if you only want to show someone some photos its even easyer. On your system just go to your Photos folder and right click on it and go to down to Dropbox and click on Copy public gallery link. You now have images that anyone can see like this one.
Simplicity by Design
One thing that stands out the more I use Dropbox is that how easy it is to use. Now I am not your average use but even the so called “AOL user” should be able to understand quickly how to do anything. Most people would use this just to keep files backed up or to be able to get files from work and home. And if they wanted to add new files its just drag and drop. Everyone knows that. The web layout is also clean and easy to understand. There is no real Web 2.0 stuff going on. Just the info you need.
Deleting Files and more
No such thing as losing files here. If you or someone else deletes a file its not really gone. Just go back to the web site and there is a link at the bottom that says show deleted files. From there you can restore any file that you have recently deleted. Dropbox also saves the changes to your files each time and labeling them different versions. Again you don’t lose anything.
Overall i really like Dropbox. It is easy to use and understand. Can be used on PC or Mac at the same time (sorry Linux). It is free and you get 2 gigs of space. That is not a lot once you start adding files but this is still a start up and still only by invite. The only thing that I wish Dropbox had is a way to add files through email. I was thinking of this when I was checking my email on my iPhone. If I receive a Word file or a picture on my phone I could foward that email to my Dropbox address and have it pull out all the files and put them in a folder that I choose. That would be nice.
This is a very nice and will thought out cloud computing idea. I can tell I am going to be using this for some time. And being in beta I hope it only gets better. If you would like to check out a good screencast of what Dropbox can do check out getdropbox.com.