Dropping the Science on Dropbox

I have been an active user (and mostly a fan) of Apple’s iDisk feature. It is probably the main reason I have kept my .Mac membership for so long. With the recent increases in storage there I thought I would never even look in any other direction. That being said, along with the recent storage increase has come even more flakiness. Sometimes, my iDisk will go for days with a “failure to sync” and then, mysteriously, just start working again. After trying everything possible to fix this, it still remains and has become something I just have accepted as “part of doing business” with .Mac because, well, I know I am not alone in my troubles.
Dropbox is a new file synchronization service that has just entered into private beta, and boy is it exciting. It takes all of the features of of other similar services (Box.net, FolderShare, and the aforementioned .Mac iDisk feature) and does them better, faster and more elegantly. I have been happily using it for a couple of weeks now and, dare I say, I am about a few days away from disconnecting my iDisk and never looking back.
In my mind, here are the ways that Dropbox beats iDisk:
* Syncing is faster. Way faster. As in “I can’t believe it synced the files that fast. I better open the file to make sure” faster. This is due, in part, to the fact that once a file is synchronized, and you then make changes to that file, only the changes are then synced. It is also due to the fact that the underlying technology is not Apple’s slow-as-dirt implementation of WebDav.
* It keeps a copy of any and all changes to your documents and files. Make a change that you wish you had not? Delete a file or folder by accident? No problem. Just log into the web interface and revert to a previous version – any pervious version. Or if it was a deletion, undelete it. That change will then sync to your machines. Awesome!
* You can login to the web interface and have access to your files from any machine. Therefore, if you are not on your machine and need to retrieve a file and have synced it with Dropbox, you can do so using a web browser. You can also upload new files via the web interface and those will then sync to the machines you have interfaced with Dropbox.
* You can also share any folder in your Dropbox with others, even if they do not have Dropbox. Simply enter the e-mail address of the person you wish to share with and they will get an e-mail with a link to that folder, granting them the access you have per the permissions you have given them.
To get an even better idea of Dropbox, they have a video demo up on their site that is worth checking out. As stated, this is still in beta and there are many more features coming down the pipe. The beta is closed right now but keep this service on your radar screen and sign up for an invite if any of this stuff may be even remotely useful to you.

One thought on “Dropping the Science on Dropbox”

  1. So, I have been experimenting with Dropbox for a while since getting in on the act. I have to say that if it works better for you than you had hoped, it works better for me than I had hoped after reading your glowing post. How’s that for recursion?
    I tried using it at work but we’re behind a psychotic firewalled proxy. Word is they’re working out the kinks in that regard.
    I only really use one computer, my MacBook. But I have installed Dropbox on the wife’s computer on the off chance that I need to use it. I don’t do cross-platform stuff with Windows much either. The main attraction for me was the versioning. That is so friggin hot I can’t begin to laud it enough. I have been wanting to have my documents under version control like some other hardcore users of SVN do, but it just seemed like it had way too much overhead. On the other hand, now that my resume (for instance) is in Dropbox, I can go back to any version of it back to the point that I initially put it in Dropbox. Templates for business forms like contract boiler plate text, quotes and estimates, and our hosting plans flyer. All this is now in Dropbox.
    The other thing this does is help unclutter my ~/Documents folder. Since so many programs get in my user space (unfortuately, including Apple) getting my actual documents into another, cleaner directory is great.
    Thanks again for introducing me to Dropbox! I’ll still be keeping .Mac because I have a lot of stuff tied to it, but it won’t be primarily for iDisk.

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