My files in “the cloud” with Dropbox

Recently some unfortunate events happened which made me think about the safety of my files.

So what happened? Well, because I’m using both my laptop as my home PC the documents needed to be on both. And they needed to be consistend and safe, of course. So I created a rather complex solution where a local USB disk made a backup of my laptop and a NAS at home that synced the laptop and desktop. This resulted in a situation where I had 4 locations with the same files… Oops.

The unfortunate events that got me thinking were:
a) It took a while to sync all the data to the NAS through Wi-Fi;
b) The NAS got broken (after 6 months…);
c) Installing XenClient resulted in an empty laptop,

There had to be a better way, something less complex. After hearing all the buzz about “the cloud” I figured this might be a solution, why not putting my data “in the cloud”? After some research (and experimenting) I ended up with Dropbox.

Dropbox is an online service which gives free online storage up to 2GB. This include free software that is easy to install and easy to use.
The software creates a folder (which you can specify) which then is synced to the online storage. No manual actions are needed, you just have to place the files. I moved all my data in the new folder and started using the new dropbox folder as the default. The application syncs the data in the background without annoying interruptions (or high CPU usage), you can even set a bandwith limit.

Next step is to add new devices. The software is available for Windows, Mac and Linux computers. Besides computers there is a mobile application for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry (coming soon) available aswell. So now I can access my files and pictures from my phone as well. Cool!

The files are available on a remote location (like a hotel, customer or family) through a website which gives you access to all the files, insight in your usage and billing. And, a photo gallery for you stored photo’s.

Overall I must say this is the easiest, most accessible and clean solution I found. 2GB for free, 50GB costs $9.99 per month and 100GB is $19.99. By inviting friends you can even get an additional 500Mb for free (and 250Mb for the friend). Not bad!

So how about security? That’s of course an important topic!
All data is transfered through an SSL connection and are stored encrypted (AES256). Without your password the files are inaccessible.

Other cool features are:
– File and folder sharing;
– Access control;
– Undelete, previous versions for 30 days;
– Photo gallery;
– Search through files online.

Ingmar Verheij

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