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Scott Cram
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I just discovered Dropbox, and I already think it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

If you're not familiar with it, it's a combination of online storage space and a special folder on your computer (or smartphone or tablet) that automatically keep everything synched across every machine on which you installed and set up access to your account. Basically, you're keeping your files up to date without e-mailing files, copying to disk, or using thumb drives, so it's nice and easy.

I think part of the reason I appreciate this so much right now is because I had to send a 40MB slideshow to a fellow Magic Café member recently, and it was a big hassle because I hadn't discovered this yet.

There's a 2 GB account for free, with more space available with paid accounts. Unless you want to back up your whole media collection (how does that get so big so quickly, anyway?) 2GB is usually enough.

Apparently, people have developed quite a few tips and tricks for it, mostly based on two features of Dropbox: The ability to save and read any file or files directly from your Dropbox folder, and the use of a Public folder (in which files are accessible to anyone with the link).

Simple example: Save an image you want to use as an avatar in your Public Dropbox folder. Go to the various forums you frequent, and give them the address of your avatar file. After that, any time you want to update your avatar, just replace it with another file using the same name, and all your forum avatars will be instantly updated! (Yeah, I know I'm probably not the one to be talking about custom avatars here, but still...)

A few other tricks:

• If your browser's preferences allows you to set the folder where it stores it's profile (bookmarks, settings, etc,), like Firefox, put the relevant folders in your Dropbox (NOT in the public folder), and point your browser's setting to find everything there. Now, everytime you open up a browser on any of your systems, they'll always have the same bookmarks, settings, and more!

• Use a password program like 1Password/RoboForm/KeyPass? Save the files into one of your private folders, and keep it updated across multiple machines.

• If your computer has a built-in camera, set it to take pictures under certain conditions (regular intervals, or motion sensing if possible), and have the pictures automatically sent to your private folder. Now, if your device is stolen, you can use back!

* Download torrents? If you have a BitTorrent client capable of automatically loading .torrent files from a specified directory, set it to your folder (Public, preferably, since you need to seed others), and you can even set many of these programs to auto-start downloading any torrent files they find there.

Does anyone use this or a service they've found is better? Have any tips and tricks? Let's hear them!
Scott Cram
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Interesting head-to-head challenge: Cloud Storage Faceoff: Windows Live SkyD......ud Drive
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Works great, recommended.
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I use dropbox professionally as well. A few other "a la carte" features:

- There's an app called BoxCrypt that allows one to encrypt the entire contents, or specified folders of one's drop box. That means that even if your dropbox account / password is compromised, your contents are still secure. (Or more generally, the contents are secure even to people or processes that can read your dropbox's contents -- like the folks at Dropbox. There are advantages and disadvantages. The advantage, obviously, is enhanced security. The disadvantage is that it's impossible (... or at least, meaningless) to share encrypted contents of one's drop box to another person, without sharing the encryption key.

- Dropbox for desktop systems works on a "push" paradigm. That is, any additions to or deletions from your dropbox are "pushed" to the various computers that are synced to the dropbox. The push paradigm is very convenient. The free dropbox mobile app for iOS and Android works on a "pull" paradigm. That is, if you want to grab something that's stored on your dropbox account onto your mobile device, you have to open the dropbox app and manually download it. It's less convenient, but it saves storage and bandwidth, which are often at a premium on mobile devices.

If you don't care about conserving storage and bandwidth, there are various iOS and Android apps that can emulate a "push" type of paradigm. The one I use is called DropSync. It manually syncs up the contents of your dropbox (or selected portions thereof) with your mobile device, at an interval (every 5 minutes, every hour, etc...) you choose. If you are nervous about mobile data usage, you can configure it to only sync over WiFi.

This is particularly useful if you think you might want to access something in your dropbox, but you're somewhere without internet access. (In my case, that happens most often on a plane; although that happens less and less these days, with the proliferation of in-flight WiFi.)
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