by Sandy Berger
Dropbox is a simple, reliable file-syncing and cloud storage service that’s been around since 2007, which is long before “cloud” was a buzzword. The basic service provides 2GB of cloud storage at no cost.
While most people may think of Dropbox as a quick and dirty way to store and transfer large files, it’s actually well suited for the traveler who wants to save and access files and photos from anywhere.
Hopefully, by now you know when you’re traveling that you don’t share your photos on social media until you get home. When you post your photographs with the embedded geotags, you are not only telling criminals that you’re out of town but just how long it will take you to get back. It’s a bad idea.
It’s also a bad idea to keep the photos on the phone because you may lose it on your trip, or you may max out your storage. Instead, you want to upload your photos to a cloud storage space. Dropbox has 2GB of free space to so you can upload all the photos and videos that you shoot.
With the app, uploading is completely automated. It works on iOS, Android and – wow – even Windows phones.
Dropbox is also handy for storing those important digital files for quick access on your phone. Dropbox (the company) recommends saving your files in Dropbox and mark them as favorites. Anything that you print can be sooner be left in its digital form and consolidated to one location. It also goes a tiny way toward protecting the environment. Even if you don’t use the service to backup your photos, you can reserve it to store digital images of your boarding passes, contact info for your travel companions, hotel details, maps, itineraries, etc. When you save them as favorites, you don’t need an Internet connection to access them.
There’s also a Pro version for business and power users. For $9.99 a month or $99 per year gets you 1TB of space, priority support, and real-time collaboration for Microsoft Office Online, which actually has a bit of growing up to do, but that’s a column for another day.
With the Pro version, two people can access and edit the same file at the same time and see each other’s changes on the screen.
The Dropbox servers are dependable. I’ve been using the system for years without a glitch. The one thing you should keep in mind is that it’s basically a file-syncing service. As such, if you delete files from the Dropbox folder on your one device, they will also be deleted from the Dropbox cloud and other devices on which you have Dropbox installed. The service, however, does allow access to deleted files and earlier versions for up to a month. You can also pay for longer storage of deleted and changes files if you need it.
Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive offer more free storage than Dropbox (they both provide 15 GB). Although the free storage amounts from these other services look good, I find that the Dropbox free service provides enough storage for all the text documents and images I need. But be careful. Too many photos and videos will eat up space quickly. Also remember that Google’s 15 GB of free storage is spread across Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos, so it may not be as good as it sounds. Google also scans your uploads so it can later advertise to your interests.
One note about Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, or any cloud service. They can be real data hogs when you are trying to surf the net or watch a video. Be sure to turn these services off when they’re not in use.
Sandy began her career as a computer programmer and over the years has become a trusted authority on a variety of tech, gadgets and gizmos. A regular on TV, radio and podcasts, Sandy speaks at tech events around the world.