In the past I was using two products from Microsoft - FolderShare and SyncToy for keeping my files in different places up-to-date. And I was rather happy until FolderShare started having downtimes and bugs that killed people's files while SyncToy decided to require .Net Framework and SQLServer while messing my directories structure at the same time. Now that I think about it they are products from Microsoft. :)
I use different software now (which is sure to be reviewed) but I remembered that FolderShare discussions in Internet were often filled with rumors of some upcoming Dropbox service that is going to own all other competitors.
Yesterday Martin of gHacks reviewed Dropbox Beta and sent me invite so I managed to check those rumors personally. :)
Downloading and installing client was smooth until the point when I registered and was told that my account is linked to computer and is ready to use. All was fine except my computer wasn't linked to anything and local client clearly wasn't working.
After few retries and sudden idea that it might hate Opera I tried same in Internet Explorer and it immediately worked. Epic fail - if your registration process is browser-dependant at least code it to open link in browser needed, not default one.
So what is Dropbox exactly?
It is local folder in windows documents folder that (with the help of local client) is kept constantly in sync with online storage. Working with it is as easy as with any local folder and there is actually no special interface - you can use whatever file manager you want.
- only binary difference is transferred if file is changed
- beta account is 2Gb (and you keep them after release), free accounts are going to be 1Gb, more is going to cost money
- online storage keeps deleted files and overwritten files revisions (I assume as long as free space for them is available)
- you can create public http links for files in special “public” subfolder (but not to directories :( )
- you can share folders with other Dropbox users
- everything is encoded bla-bla-bla for the sake of nervous people who think someone is interested in photos of their cat :)
Basically service works with anything (I can imagine plenty ways to use it) as long as it fits in storage size. It is good for anything document-size and bad for anything more than bunch-of-photos size (unless you pay for additional storage whatever it is going to cost).
Shall I use it after final release? Maybe for collaboration on documents only. I tend to carry enough devices capable of data-storage to freak people out and my home machine has private http server with access to whatever I may need (and that “whatever” clearly won't fit in 1-2Gb of Dropbox).
My overall opinion - concept is size-limited but perfect in it's niche and very easy to use. Also some additional features might appear by the time it reaches release. Home page has nice video up that shows everything Dropbox is capable of at current stage.
I can give away 10 invite codes so drop a comment if you need one. First batch gone, but kind Dropbox developers supplied me with 25 more to give out. :) Invites no longer needed! :)
Dropbox home page https://www.getdropbox.com/
Dropbox download page https://www.getdropbox.com/beta