Drop­box is among the best third-party cloud sync­ing and stor­age ser­vices

Mac Format - - CLOUD SYNCING -

WWhat is it? Drop­box is a plat­form-neu­tral file sync­ing and stor­age sys­tem that isn’t tied to any par­tic­u­lar hard­ware. It of­fers a de­cent amount of free stor­age with up­grade op­tions. It’s among the most popular ser­vice of its kind. What does it work with? It works on OS X, Win­dows,Linux, iOS and An­droid, and there are free apps avail­able for each plat­form. It also works in a browser and of­fers use­ful func­tion­al­ity such as watch fold­ers for au­to­matic up­load­ing and has ba­sic in­line edit­ing and view­ing tools. e’re not sur­prised that Steve Jobs once tried to buy Drop­box: it’s slick, easy to use and re­mark­ably pow­er­ful in the same way that Ap­ple strives to make its prod­ucts. It was one of the most im­por­tant ser­vices in driv­ing the av­er­age in­ter­net user to embrace cloud stor­age, be­cause it un­der­stood that this stuff should seem sim­ple to or­di­nary users, even if the tech­nol­ogy be­hind it was mas­sively ad­vanced; ser­vices that look too com­pli­cated tend to scare peo­ple off. If you see peo­ple us­ing a cloud ser­vice to sync to store their files, it’s very of­ten Drop­box that’s sit­ting in the menu bar.

A free, ba­sic ac­count starts with 2GB of stor­age space, but it’s pos­si­ble to in­crease this by ‘earn­ing’ more (up to 16GB) through invit­ing oth­ers to join up. Drop­box has an ex­cel­lent se­lec­tion of dif­fer­ent ways to ac­cess your stor­age space. The sim­plest is through a web browser where you can up­load and down­load files, cre­ate and man­age fold­ers, send shar­ing links to oth­ers and man­age pri­vacy with pass­words and link ex­pi­ra­tion dates, copy and paste stuff and even cre­ate photo al­bums.

If you in­stall the Drop­box app on your Mac or PC, it sits un­ob­tru­sively in the menu bar un­til you need it and lets you jump straight to your on­line stor­age space in a browser, as well as cre­at­ing lo­cal copies of the on­line fold­ers for off­line ac­cess (un­less you choose to switch this fea­ture off ). It cre­ates a ‘watch folder’ that au­to­mat­i­cally up­loads any­thing you place into it and also in­stalls a con­tex­tual menu plugin so you can right-click on any­thing on your Mac and choose to move it to Drop­box, pro­vided there’s enough space. In the Pref­er­ences you can choose to en­able au­to­matic up­loads of pho­tos and videos from de­vices that you con­nect to your com­puter, and also copy stuff from iPhoto into your Drop­box folder, thus lib­er­at­ing it from Ap­ple’s walled gar­den. It’s pos­si­ble to share screen­shots to Drop­box and also limit the band­width it can use, so it doesn’t use all your data or slow down net­work traf­fic.

The iOS apps are equally use­ful and have a sim­i­larly fo­cussed feel to them. As well as let­ting you up­load and down­load files to and from the cloud, you can also view all ma­jor file types such as text, mu­sic, pic­tures, PDFs and movies in the app it­self, and it shares the same func­tion­al­ity as the web­site with the abil­ity to cre­ate fold­ers and share links to files. A num­ber of Mac and iOS apps also have the abil­ity to up­load files and other data to your Drop­box ac­count di­rectly from their ex­port or file menus, since it’s one of the world’s lead­ing cloud ser­vices. Although many apps will now start to in­cor­po­rate iCloud op­tions in those same menus, it’s un­likely that they’ll for­get about Drop­box: the two ser­vices are likely to co­ex­ist as des­ti­na­tions for your pre­cious files. You can pay to up­grade your stor­age; you get 1TB of space for £7.99 a month (or £79 a year). There’s also a Business plan avail­able, though it costs sig­nif­i­cantly more.

Drop­box is a slick cloud sync­ing and stor­age sys­tem that works across all your de­vices, and is great for stor­ing smaller amounts of stuff with its 2GB ba­sic ac­count. Although you can view files to a limited ex­tent on­line, you can’t work with them in the same way you can with iCloud Drive or Google Doc­u­ments; and although Drop­box in­te­grates into OS X and iOS as far as Ap­ple will pre­sum­ably al­low it, it can’t achieve the same de­gree of in­te­gra­tion that iCloud does with your de­vice, sim­ply by virtue of the fact that it’s not made by Ap­ple. Nonethe­less, it’s easy to use and its tools are ro­bust and well de­signed.

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