Dropbox is a combination Backup/Syncing/Sharing service that is software based. The file backups are done incrementally, and versions are maintained, in case there is a mess up somewhere in the mix. Sharing of individual files, folders, or the entire dropbox is allowed, and security is provided for using the same standards that most large financial institutions use. They offer a lifetime free trial, though the storage space is fairly small. Upgrading your account for more storage is easy too. Updating files to be backed up is almost instantaneous, and the default set of backups is fairly complete, though, if you wish to customize the backup set, it is possible from within the client.
There are four levels to their account pricing, one of which we will discuss in the next section, freebies. For paid access above this here is how it works:
- Pro 50 Account: For $9.99 monthly you get 50 GB of storage, and all the goodies.
- Pro 100: This is $19.99 monthly, and you get 100 GB of storage along with all the other features.
- Teams: This account is for those in need of 1 TB or more of storage, you will be allowed up to 5 users for $795 per year, and an additional $125 each annually for additional users plus an additional 200 GB of storage.
There are other add-ons for each level of account, and you can pay extra to have what Dropbox calls the “Pack Rat” versioning feature. This is where no matter how old the version is, it will be kept so you can retrieve it.
Dropbox Free Trial
Dropbox offers one of the most comprehensive free trial accounts that we have ever seen. They will give you 2 GB of storage, and the client, all for the low price of your good email account and verification. The account is good for life, and you will be able to keep multiple computers backed up and synced with it.
Dropbox Client Details/Top Features
Dropbox works on most any computer, Windows XP and newer, Mac, Linux, and every mobile device we could think of. There are a lot of benefits to this service, we’ll touch on the highlights here:
- Works on almost any computer Mac, Linux, or mobile device.
- Sharing is easy, and quite secure.
- Restore files either via the client, or internet browser.
- Versions kept 30 days, but they can be kept longer.
- Access your files from anywhere on the internet.
- Editing and backups can be configured from your mobile device.
- Security is handled via SSL and 256 bit AES encryption.
Dropbox Product Installation
Installing Dropbox is easy, and you will have to set up an account on their website, so make sure the email address you give them is a good one, you will need it. Once installed you will have to connect the client to your Dropbox account using the email and password you set up in the beginning. Once connected, you can select the files you want to be backed up from the preferences, then the advanced tab in the preferences window. From here you can control where the Dropbox folder is kept on your computer, and you can also select which files to sync from here.
Dropbox Backup Process Overview
After the initial upload, the syncing of your files will happen in the background, and won’t interfere with your normal daily activities. You will be able to limit the upload and Download speeds. If you use proxies for anything, Dropbox will also detect these and make adjustments to it’s behavior. You will be able to pause the uploading, if you find that it is interfering with your activities, from the icon in the running tasks bar.
Dropbox Restore Process Overview
Restoring files is extremely easy. Log into your account using the client, select the “Files” tab, select your files, then click on the “More” arrow on the left side of the toolbar, then select download folder. Your download will start automatically. If you would like to restore all the files, you can download them in zip form, and replace them wherever you want to.
Dropbox Sharing Capabilities
Dropbox has one of the best sharing and syncing features we have seen among their competitors. Syncing is automatic with every computer you have attached to the account, (if the computer is online and available,) and sharing is a fairly easy affair. To share a file or folder all you have to do is select the file you wish to share, then click on the “Share A Folder” button on the toolbar. You will be presented with a window to enter the email address, etc., of the person, and they will be sent an email with a link to the file.
Dropbox Privacy/Data Protection
Security is insured using SSL data transfers, and once they have your data it will be encrypted using 256 bit industry standard. You have the option of having public galleries and folders, these won’t be secured, but shared files and folders won’t be viewable by anyone that doesn’t have the link. And people you share files with will only be able to view the files you share, they will find all your other files locked.
Dropbox Support Options
They provide support through email, forums, support tickets, and a FAQ. They also have a community suggestion box for those with feature requests, or suggestions. They also have a brief video tour of Dropbox, to help you get the most for your money. In their forums, the general attitude is friendly and happy to be there. Questions we asked were answered by other users with great suggestions, so the community is fairly knowledgeable.
Dropbox Common Problems
We looked around their forums and found few problems that didn’t have some kind of an answer, even if it was, “Let me check it out.” Most problems had been marked as solved.
Dropbox vs. The Competition
Comparing the free offerings that Dropbox has against the other guys, we were quite impressed. A fully functioning client for syncing and sharing with 2 GB of storage space is an unusual offering today. Compared to the other guys, there are less expensive online storage companies, but not many with the same syncing and sharing features.
Dropbox Company Information
The company was originally formed in 2007 by two MIT students that were frustrated by having to constantly email files and folders to themselves to be able to work on different computers. Today the team consists of more than 50 people that specialize in the computer industry in one way or another. They are constantly looking for more talent, so if you are of a mind to collaborate with them, feel free.
Our Conclusion On Dropbox
For a free service, we have found none better, for the offerings, and the service. For their paid accounts, there are cheaper, and some may have features that are more desirable to the average user. If you are needing to maintain sync, or share, files that total 2 GB or less in size, we would highly recommend that you check these guys out. If you need more than this, shop carefully, you may find cheaper with the features you want.