My MobileMe subscription ran out last month, and I decided not to renew it, as I didn’t use the 20GB online capacity you’re given with the service. In fact I only ever used it as file sync software to transfer a few documents between home and wherever I happened to be, and for me that wasn’t worth £59 a year. Naturally, I needed a replacement, and decided to go with an application called Dropbox, a free application available for Windows, Mac OS X, the iPhone and Linux which allows you to share files between your computers or over the internet on a public computer.
The thing that attracted me to Dropbox was the fact that it isn’t just a web-based file hosting service, it’s an application that you can install on your computer whatever OS you’re running and just drag and drop files into your “Dropbox” folder on your hard drive. When you add or remove files from the folder, every other dropbox you have that’s linked to the same account will automatically sync and update the files in its own folder – so it’s also working as a form of online file backup.
When you open Dropbox for the first time, you’re asked to either log in to your account or create an account, and then choose your data plan. By default, you’re given 2GB of storage for free, and you can choose to upgrade to the “Pro 50” package giving you 50GB of storage for $9.99 a month or the “Pro 100” package giving you 100GB of storage for $19.99 a month.
After installation, you barely notice its presence except when you need to use the service, as it just sits on your task bar or menu Bar (or Home Screen) and waits to be called in to action. What impressed me the most about the service as a whole was the speed at which it was transferred to other computers using my Dropbox. I dragged a 10MB movie file in to the Dropbox folder on one of my Mac’s, and as soon as it was in the folder, every other Dropbox on my other machines (one running Windows 7 and another running Ubuntu Linux) immediately synced with the server and downloaded the movie file I’d just uploaded from OS X. Within no more than a minute, that same movie file was on every Dropbox I had with absolutely no fuss.
To see how well the web interface worked with my files, I went on a Windows computer which didn’t have Dropbox installed and went to the website to see if my file was in the folder on the web available for download, which it was, only a few seconds after uploading from OS X.
Dropbox is an absolutely fantastic and easy to use file sync software service that I will continue to use for a lot of file transfers between my computers over the web. I found it to be an efficient and non-intrusive way of sharing and synchronising my files between every computer using a variety of operating systems, including my iPhone (the Dropbox iPhone app is a free download from the iTunes store) which was great, as I could view all my files on the go wherever I needed them, so I have that convenience and safety net of it providing some online file backup. What can I say? I’m officially over MobileMe…
UPDATE: Once you’ve got signed up with the Dropbox system, not only can you use it for standard online file syncing, but also take a look at these suggestions for extra uses for Dropbox that you might not have thought of already.