Dropbox

I work in the IT field. I’m a help desk tech so I get to do all the dirty work and fun stuff. I also get to “escalate” problems to the higher ups because I don’t have rights to do so and so (that in itself is a rant for another day; I mean like, Hey, I can totally do those things, what gives?!) Anyway one of the main problems we face as a public facing organization is sharing of information. Whenever you want to share info, you run the inherent risk of a security breach. This breach can include passing of sensitive/confidential/personal data. Recently someone wanted to send a file, 15mb. In this day and age, sharing of information should be as seamless as possible no? This file was A OK to be sent out, but a few things prevented it from happening.

  1. Our email attachment limit was set “too low”
  2. The email attachment limit for some of the recipients were “too low”
  3. The sender wanted to BCC about 35 people

We fixed #1 quite easily, but something happened down the road and we had to reboot our mailserver. #2 is out of our control. #3 is also kind of out of our control. When a message is sent to more than x amount (depends on the receiving mailserver) of people listed as BCC, most mail systems see it as spam and handle it accordingly. One solution we have for our users is a public FTP folder where they can drop stuff and provide credentials to the outside public. This works, but it’s slightly cumbersome as in the end, you’re providing support to the people outside who don’t “get” how to use it (even with clear and concise instructions provided for them). One solution which I think would alleviate all problems is the use of Dropbox. Dropbox allows you to share files quickly and seamlessly across multiple platforms and devices. Anyone with a Dropbox account can simply plop a file in the “Public” folder of their account and give a unique URL to outsiders for easy, secure, and fast access. Only those with the link can download the file. Once everyone has partaken in the download, simply trash the file or move it out of the public folder. Easy peasy.

The cooler part about Dropbox is that there are many many many more ways to use it to sync files across your devices. One example is syncing your Firefox browser profile across computers, let’s say your work computer and your home computer. Simply store your profile in your Dropbox and your favorites, add-ins, and settings are synced between the two. When you sign up, you get 2gb’s of space free, and if you install the client, you’re given an additional 250mb. If you refer more people and they in turn sign up and install the client, you’re given another 500mb for free! Since they have a client for most mobile device platforms out there (iOS, BlackBerry, Android, etc) you’ll always be within reach of your most important documents. Stuff is securely stored on their server. They even offer 30 days of version control (on the free plan, longer for a fee). If someone makes a change, the old file is archived for 30 days and is easily recoverable through their friendly web interface.

I’ve been using Dropbox for a few years now, and I love how easy it is to use as well as all the functionality it provides. There are a few dozen apps out there that utilize the “cloud storage” mentality like LastPass (a password manager) and Dropbox makes it easier to store and sync your password cache across platforms. A few years ago, I met the Dropbox CEO, Drew Houston, in line for the iPhone 4 in San Francisco and he’s a pretty chill guy. Drew and Dropbox were recently featured on Forbes Magazine, you know, the one Bruno Mars and Travie McCoy sing about in Billionaire… All in all, get with the program and sign up for Dropbox, it’ll change your life and the way you store stuff!

PS Some organizations choose to BLOCK Dropbox (and related services) because it’s a file storage type service so don’t go installing it at work without reading your company’s Computer Use Policy! So with that said, I’ve done my job. Haha…

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