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Published:

March 1, 2011
 
Tagged: Faculty Center for Professional Excellence

Dropbox: Your Free, Secure Online Flash Drive

Newsletter


 
by Benjamin Rosner
 

15buzzWhat is Dropbox?


Dropbox (dropbox.com) is a free online cloud storage tool that stores and automatically synchronizes your files to as many devices as you own. After creating a free account, users are provided with two gigabytes of storage space for their files. Files can be uploaded1 to this virtual storage device through the Dropbox website or through the Dropbox client. The Dropbox client2 can be installed on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS (Apple) devices; that will cover everyone and every device we own. In other words, you will never be without access to your documents wherever an Internet connection is available.

Advantages to Cloud Storage

Never Be Without Your Important Files
Dropbox is a virtual thumb drive that you can never physically lose, damage, or have stolen; it is a universally portable copy of your files and documents that is safe and secure. Couple this with the fact that the Dropbox client will automatically sync your files and can be installed on practically every device you own, you are guaranteed to never be without your files. This means that those important documents, spreadsheets, and audio and video files you created on your work computer are synchronized to your home computer, laptop, and cell phone. Talk about taking your work with you everywhere.

Sharing Your Files Easily
Sharing files is also very easy with Dropbox. There are two scenarios that allow files to be shared with colleagues working with Dropbox. If you know the person you are collaborating with has a Dropbox account, you can share the contents of an entire folder with them by invitation. When your sharing invitation is accepted, their Dropbox account automatically starts synchronizing with your folder. Both accounts access the same, up-to-date files without worry about which version of the document the other is viewing. The second advantage of sharing in Dropbox is perhaps how easy it is to distribute a file to multiple parties. Placing files in your public folder gives them a website address (i.e., a URL) that can be shared through email. Sending the website address will allow users to download and save a copy of the file; the copy will not be synchronized with your original file.

Security and Privacy in the Cloud

Dropbox does a great job mitigating concerns over privacy and security when storing your important files in the cloud. The Dropbox system uses strong data encryption (AES-256) so that your files, even if compromised, are useless without your password. Furthermore, the data transmitted to and from Dropbox and your device happens over a secure channel (SSL) so that no one can eavesdrop and steal your data. From the Dropbox website, “we use the same secure methods as banks and the military [to secure your data].” Read more about how your data is safeguarded at dropbox.com/help/27. Please, always remember to password-protect your accounts with a strong password and to change your password with some regular frequency.

Summing Up (Dropbox Is Great)

Dropbox is a fantastic and free utility that provides synchronization of your files across all of your devices. Files no longer need to exist in just one location, but can exist in all of the locations you desire on all of the devices you carry. Files can easily be shared with collaborators and/or distributed widely via the website address using Dropbox. Most importantly, all of this happens in a safe and secure environment, so that your data is safe, not only from washing, losing, or breaking your thumb drive, but also from those who may intend to do harm by stealing your data.


For help using Dropbox or other related questions you may have, please stop by or contact the Faculty Center Support Lab in Alumnae Hall 01, or at campus extensions 4220 and 4228.

P.S. This article was written at multiple locations, and proofread on a cell phone thanks to Dropbox’s free file storage and synchronization.

Definitions

1: To upload a file is to move files from a local location to a distant location; in this case, from your computer to Dropbox’s secure servers.

2: A client is an application that is installed on a device (typically your computer) to provide a user-friendly gateway to a service. An example of this is the Groupwise Client installed on Adelphi computers to access your email.

rosner

Benjamin Rosner
Instructional Technologist
Faculty Center for Professional Excellence

This piece is from the Spring 2011 Issue No. 15 of the FCPE Newsletter.
 
Tagged: Faculty Center for Professional Excellence