Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cloud: Dropbox Is A Must Have Tool For Any Mobile Warrior

I've been using Dropbox since Dave the Mobile Sage let me know about it eons ago.  And I'm sure you're aware of it or have heard of it before.

If you don't, let's look at what Dropbox is in a minute or less. It is a storage service that is stored on the Internet, or these days, people call it the "cloud".

 Basically, your files, documents, pictures, or videos, do not reside on your laptop or mobile device but on a server owned and operated by Dropbox. The purpose is accessibility. And security in the sense that the files are there if something was to happen to your own hardware - disaster or theft for instance.

 We use Dropbox in our work. We use it as a depository to share files - mostly large files that have a problem getting through e-mail systems.

 And its inexpensive. The free service gives users 2 GB of storage. And if you refer others to use Dropbox, you can gain additional storage capacity. There are two other main paid services that provide more storage. For most individual users, 2GB is more than enough. Consider that your thumb drive is probably 1 to 4 GB, Dropbox will serve your needs just fine.

 And speaking of thumb drives, services like Dropbox make them obsolete in some instances. If you want to save a Powerpoint file or a series of pictures that are 30 MB. Well, they're too big to e-mail. Before Dropbox, your only option is to burn them onto a CD or move them onto a USB drive. Then you have to physically transport it somehow.

 With Cloud-storage, you can share them as you wish with whomever you want. It's a service I definitely recommend you give it a try.

And it is free. There is a "however". It isn't a major concern but it is one that we all want to keep in mind. Privacy and ownership.  According to the Wiki page, its security for authentication is lacking. And the ability or inability of Dropbox employees to access private files are also in question.  And earlier in June, files for all Dropbox users were publicly accessible without the need for a password.

I know, this is horrible and no excuse at all.  At the same time, you do want to keep in mind that this is a free service (unless you're willing to pay for it) and the company is still going through growing pains.  And you also don't want to be using this to transport state secrets or eyes-only documents. In fact, you probably don't wan to do those things using e-mails as well.

Despite that, I continue to value it and use it.  Like I said, we use it in our work.  We just don't store confidential or financial information on it.  A few pics of the last vacation trip seems okay to upload.  Again, its a great service in and of itself that I highly recommend.  I'll also check out other services and let you know what other cloud-based storage solutions are available.

Note:  There are ways to encrypt your files and still use Dropbox in a more secured manner.  Here's is one idea at Tech Talk.

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