in Technology

Safe document writing using Dropbox

dropbox-logoLots of people who write articles or create content in any form, often find themselves generating lots of files. A writer will for instance probably have lots of article drafts laying around. Everyone have different solutions for revision control and backup, ranging from a simple manual file copy to using a full-fledged revision control system such as Subversion.

For everyone else, there is a simple solution for keeping backups of your work in progress, as well as being able to retrieve any previous revision. In addition to all this, it even lets you sync files between multiple computers and access your files online from any computer with internet access.

I guess you know by now that I am talking about Dropbox, a service available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It installs a small application on your computer which monitors a configurable directory for changes and uploads them automatically to the Dropbox servers.

dropbox-revisions

The free version offers 2 GB of space, which should be enough for most people. For photographers and other people dealing with lots of large files, there also a premium option available which gives you 50 GB for $99 per year.

The web interface is beautiful and easy to use for navigating your Dropbox and downloading the files. This is also the place for viewing older revisions for your files and delete, copy, rename and delete them.

dropbox-events

A very handy feature is the ability to share folders with other Dropbox users! If you are working together with other people in a project, just share a folder between you and everyone will instantly have access to all changes in the project folder – automatically.

dropbox-publicThere is even a way of sharing files with non Dropbox users. There is a special folder in the root of the Dropbox named “Public”. Putting files here makes it possible to right-click on the files and copy a public URL for it. To let other people download the file, it’s just a matter of sharing the link with them. They can’t of course make changes to it, nor view its revision history.

Another special folder in the Dropbox root is the Photos folder, which creates instant photo albums for viewing on the web by anyone. This is definitely the easiest way of getting a photo album up on the web, since you only need to copy or move the pictures to this special folder on your computer – Dropbox does the rest.

All iPhone users out there, and possible other phone owners, can access the iPhone web interface too for downloading files in the Dropbox. It is even possible to view the uploaded photo galleries.

dropbox-iphone

There is a tour available on the website which explains all features more in-depth.

Upcoming features include:

  • Timeline based undo
  • Online visualization for any file type
  • An iPhone application/interface that let us download files of interest (pdf, docs, pictures..)
  • Watch any folder support (configurable per host)
  • Better shared folder controls (permissions, etc.)
  • Online edition for text files
  • Add friends
  • Improve Upload Speed
  • Group accounts

If you decide to give Dropbox a go, consider using my referral link when you sign up. That way, both you and I get additional storage for free!

Disclaimer: From this article it may seem like I work for Dropbox, but I don’t. I just like their service a lot!