Reviewed Mar 2, 2012
Dropbox rated 3.93 stars based on 75 votes
Dropbox is a simple solution for saving files to the cloud. With it, you can make the same files accessible across multiple computers by simply installing Dropbox on every computer that you use regularly and dropping files there.
This action enables you to sync files across computers with ease. However, a closer look at this program reveals that it's not suited to be used as a comprehensive online backup solution.
The Dropbox folder, which is conveniently placed on your PC's desktop upon installation, serves as the main graphical tool that connects you to Dropbox's servers on the Internet. Basically, for any of your files to be backed up online automatically, you need to copy/move/save them to the Dropbox folder.
While this may seem like a nifty tool, it also essentially means that if a program saves at another folder by default, files created through it will not be saved in the cloud.
One benefit of saving your files on Dropbox though is that you can revert to previous versions that have been stored in their servers up to a maximum of 30 days. What's more, if you upgrade to a paid version of Dropbox, that limit will be waived. That means you can perform an unlimited number of
undos until you find the version you want to revert to.
This is where Dropbox shines. If you start working on a Word document or Excel spreadsheet in your office computer and want to continue working at home, you simply copy your file to the Dropbox folder. Then once you arrive home, you turn on your PC, open its Dropbox folder, and that same file will be waiting there.
Unlike other web-based apps that require a constant Internet connection, Dropbox allows you to work even when you're offline. That means, if you're working on a laptop and you save the file in the Dropbox folder, you can still work on the same file even when you move to a location where you have no Internet access. Once you get back online, the system will automatically sync your file.
If you work within a local area network (LAN) and have Dropbox folders in different workstations, file syncing can take place much faster. That's because when its LAN Sync feature is enabled, Dropbox will only have to look for the newest copy of the file within the network and share it with other Dropbox folders found there. For this feature to activate, you'll need to be connected both to a LAN and the Internet.
Sharing files and collaborating with your team members can be easily done with this program. In just a couple of steps, you can already share files with existing Dropbox users. Non-Dropbox users will receive a registration invitation via email. After registration, they can then have access to the files you shared with them through their own Dropbox folder, allowing all of you to work on the same file at the same time even when you're all in your respective homes.
You can also specify who has access to which file or folder if you only want to share certain files with certain people. Files placed in the public folder, on the other hand, are viewable by anyone.
As for images, you can share them even with non-Dropbox users because they will be displayed in a gallery that can be viewed online. This is particularly convenient for non-Dropbox users who don't want to go through the registration process just to view your photos.
If you need access to your files from another computer, but doesn't have Dropbox installed, you can simply login to the Dropbox website and download your file from there. Then when you're done, you just upload the file back via the website so you can have the latest copy available synced to all linked computers.
Dropbox is backed by ample security features like SSL, which provides security while you send files to the servers and back, and file encryption, to prevent malicious individuals from prying into your files.
If you're a regular computer user, chances are you will have multiple applications installed on your system. Common files like saved games, downloaded installers, MP3s, videos, images, as well as not-so-common ones like downloaded HTML pages, PDFs, IM conversations, and drivers, may be important to you. The apps from which these files were created or downloaded with will understandably use their own default folders for saving. Having to ensure that each one is dropped into that Dropbox folder can be time consuming and even downright impossible. That is why, while Dropbox does have some neat features like syncing and sharing, it is certainly not your best online backup solution.
That being said, Dropbox is great for syncing files between multiple computers and sharing with others. So go ahead and sign-up with Dropbox for free, but use another online backup solution for your primary backups.