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Friday, June 6, 2008

DropBox is very cool

Ever try to find a file that you know you have, only to later realize you only have it on your work pc or you laptop or the upstairs computer? DropBox is a new service to help those of us with multiple computer disorder. I have been using Google Docs and Spreadsheets for some things and a 20GB USB drive for others, but DropBox appears to be much better than either of those solutions.

The downside to the Google tool is you need to upload any document or spreadsheet you want to access from somewhere else. The downside to the USB drive is you need to carry
the drive around with you and remember to copy stuff to and from it. You can simply use the USB drive for all files, but then if it dies or gets lost you are up the creek without a drive.

This is a great tool to share with yourself and keep those handy SQL or shell scripts in sync automatically. It is also useful to keep versions as DropBox allows you to get earlier versions.

You can share with others either by invitation or by making a file/folder publicly available on the web.

Unanswered questions (for me anyway) are:

- How tight is the security? Will my private files ever be exposed to others? Will files/folder I share with others be accessible to non-invited people?

- How stable will this be? There will always be times when any application is unavailable, but I will want to see how stable these folks can keep this before I put too many eggs in the DropBox basket.

- Organizing files and folders on the web interface is not immediately intuitive. I am still digging around to see how to move things from one folder to another.

- Cost. Currently is free for 2 GB and they claim to want to keep a free tier even after the initial beta period. Google has managed to keep a very generous free tier for all of their offerings, so if the folks at DropBox have studied hard, they may well be able to deliver on this.

Now that you are all excited to try it out, sorry to burst your bubble, but it is still in limited beta (remember the early days of GMail?) where participation is by invitation only. The good news is that I do have some invitations. The first 10 requests in a comment to this blog will get them (unless they reduce the number I have of course).