Dropbox is a service that lets users safely and securely store their files -- photos, videos, documents and more -- on its own servers, which can be accessed by users from any device, at any time. This is type of remote file storage is referred to as the cloud.
The use of cloud computing services by both individuals and businesses are now on the rise. As technology continues to advance and people increasingly embrace Internet browsing via tablets and smartphones, the need to access and sync information from a variety of devices is becoming more important than ever.
This is why so many people are turning to cloud storage services like Dropbox.
Why Switch from Storing Files Locally to Storing Files in the Cloud?
If you've ever needed to access some type of file on one computer that has already been created or stored or updated on another computer, a cloud storage service like Dropbox can eliminate steps like saving that file to a USB key or emailing that file to yourself so you can access it from a different computer.
In addition, it's no secret that lots of people these days own web-based mobile devices or multiple computers in addition to their main computers. If you want to seamlessly access photos, music, ebooks or anything else from any computer or mobile device without needing to go through the tedious task of transferring those files, Dropbox can take care of all that for you -- while even syncing any changes to files or documents across all platforms.
How Does Dropbox Work?
If you're feeling a little intimidated about the tech-y details behind what's involved with "the cloud" and "cloud storage," then that's okay. You don't have to be a tech whiz to understand cloud computing, or to use Dropbox.
Dropbox gets you started with signing you up for a free account, which only requires an email address and a password. Then, you'll be asked if you would like to download the appropriate Dropbox application to your computer, which makes it easy for you to start uploading files to your account.
Those files can be accessed from any computer when you sign in to your Dropbox account, either from the Dropbox application or Dropbox via web. You can also install one of the many free mobile apps Dropbox offers to your mobile device to easily access your files on the go.
Since the files are stored on Dropbox's servers (in the cloud), accessing your files works by connecting to your account via an Internet connection. Here's how you can enable offline access to Dropbox if you want to access your files without a connection.
Dropbox's Main Features for Free Users
When you sign up for a free Dropbox account, here's what you'll get:
2 GB of cloud storage space: As soon as you sign up for a free account, you get 2 GB of storage space for your files.
Up to a total of 16 GB for referrals: If you refer a friend to sign up for a free Dropbox account, you can increase your free amount of storage space up to a total of 16 GB without needing to pay for it.
Compatible with the most popular operating systems: You don’t have to worry about accessing your Dropbox files from an iPhone and then being unable to access the exact same file it from a Windows PC. Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlacBerry.
Minimal file changes: Dropbox only transfers the part of a file that has been changed. For example, a Word document that is saved several times in Dropbox will only have the edits transferred to your Dropbox account.
Manual bandwidth settings: You can set your own bandwidth limit so Dropbox will not take up your entire Internet connection.
Collaborative access: You can invite friends, family or colleagues to gain access to your Dropbox folders. This is a great option for team projects. You can see other people’s changes to files immediately and send links to any file in your Dropbox public folder to be viewable by anyone.
Public file link sharing: You can store files in your Public folder to be viewed by other people by sending the public URL to anyone you want.
Offline access: Access your files any time, even when you're connected to the Internet.
Secure storage: Dropbox ensures that your files are storied securely with SSL and encryption. A one-month long history of your files is maintained, and you can always undo any changes to any files, or undelete them.
Dropbox User Plans
2 GB: This is the free plan that Dropbox offers. Remember that you can get additional storage space up to 16 GB by referring friends to sign up through you.
100 GB: Get 100 GB of cloud storage for $10.99 per month of $109 per year.
200 GB: Get 200 GB of cloud storage for $21.99 per month or $219 per year.
500 GB: Get 500 GB of cloud storage for $54.99 or per month or $549 per year.
If you'd like to scope out other alternatives to Dropbox, check out these additional services that offer comparable features and pricing for cloud storage solutions.