There are a ton of file-sharing sites out there. Most all of them force you to use a cumbersome Web interface, and few offer the ease of syncing your files between computers. Dropbox allows you to store, sync and share your files online as easily as drag-and-dropping your files or folders on the Dropbox folder on your desktop (or wherever else you wish to keep it). Files of any kind are automatically uploaded and made available online. Those files are also synced with any other Mac you have Dropbox installed on. But here’s where it gets interesting… The Dropbox application lives in your OSX menubar. The nifty little icon provides you a quick and easy way to open your Dropbox on your computer, or your personal Web-based Dropbox, as well as tell you how much of your storage space is being used. The menubar item also provides a list of recently changed items, as well as indicating whether or not the Dropbox is up-to-date or not. The Dropbox preferences allow a small amount of customizing. You can choose to use Growl notifications, have Dropbox open at startup, and choose a color or black & white menubar icon. Dropbox also allows you to set the maximum upload and download bandwidth rates and set your own proxy settings if you so choose. I found the defaults to work just fine. Once you add files to the Dropbox folder, you can view the contents on your Mac just as you would any other folder. You also have the option of using the Web interface, which lists your files and folders on your own Dropbox Web space. As you can see above, I have a few .jpg images, Illustrator .ai files, an Apple Pages document, and a few folders in my Dropbox. Clicking on the files in the list will download the files or open the folder accordingly. You can also choose to move the file to another folder in your Dropbox, delete it or rename it. It really couldn’t be more simple. Dropbox also keeps track of recently changed items for you, telling you what files you added or deleted and when. Very handy! If you wish to share a folder full of documents with a client, friend or family member, you simply right-click on a folder in your Dropbox on your Mac and select Share. Doing so opens a Web page where you can enter an email address of the person you wish to share the folder with. That person then receives an email invite with a link to the shared folder. In my tests, everything worked perfectly. A really nice feature of Dropbox that I’ve not seen elsewhere is the ability to recover deleted files. Dropbox archives all your files and can be restored with a few clicks via the Web interface.
Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage space when you register. For me, that was enough to sync articles and screenshots between my desktop and my laptop. Dropbox uses Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service) to store your files, and secures them using SSL for transfers. More storage space can be purchased if the 2GB of free space isn’t enough. Right now, 50GB of storage will run you $9.99 per month, or $99.99 per year. Because Dropbox is still in public beta, I suspect they may have other options available in the near future. What I like about Dropbox over other services is that the files themselves reside on my computer. If I choose not to continue using Dropbox, my files are still right where I left them on my computer. I also love the clean interface of not only the menubar application, as well as the Web interface. For sharing and syncing files quickly and easily, I can’t recommend Dropbox enough. This is definitely one of those services worth checking out!