Do you worry when you leave home that you may need some files from your home computer? Do you worry when you travel that anything you create on your travel computer may get lost or destroyed before you get back home? Do you worry that the pictures you take with your phone will get lost or destroyed before you are able to transfer them to your computer? Do you worry that the USB drive where you keep your important files will get lost or destroyed, or that you didn’t update it with your latest work?
Don’t Worry! Use Dropbox!
Dropbox.com is a cloud storage service. There are many of them like Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive, and Google’s Drive. We use them all, but we like Dropbox the best for 2 reasons:
It ISN’T Apple, Microsoft, or Google! So it’s not tied in any way with one of those accounts, and it works well with ALL.
It does the best job of Synchronizing among all your computers and mobile devices.
Synchronizing means that Dropbox keeps a copy of your files on your computer – in the Dropbox folder – AND in the Cloud – in your Dropbox.com account – and it takes care of ensuring that when either one is updated, so is the other. All you have to do is save your file in the Dropbox folder on your computer, and Dropbox will create, or update, the corresponding file in your Dropbox.com account. It will also update that same file on anyone else’s computer with whom you have shared a folder, and make it accessible to any device that has the Dropbox App installed.
With Dropbox, you can:
Start working on a file at home, continue working on the same file on the road
Share a folder for a group of people to collaborate on project files, even when those people are spread all over the world.
Work on a file locally when you have no Internet connection, and it automatically synchronizes to the web and other shared group members when you do get online.
Create a group photo album where everyone automatically gets a copy of the pictures on their computer – not just a shared web album.
Start working on a file on your laptop, continue working on the same file on your iPad or Android smartphone.
Automatically upload all photos taken with a mobile device to your Dropbox.com account – AND synchronize with whatever computer(s) you have set up.
Using Dropbox has definitively eliminated any worries I have about my computer files. I know that I have access to all of my files and pictures (and they are the current, updated versions!) wherever I am and whatever computing device I happen to have available. I’ve been using Dropbox long enough now that I have actually forgotten what it is like to worry about my computer files. I don’t have a computer backup system any more. If a file is important to me, it’s in my Dropbox folder. In fact, I no longer use My Documents folder – unless it’s an unimportant file. I use my Dropbox folder in lieu of my Documents and I set up as many subfolders as I need to store my stuff.
How much space do you get?
The initial free allotment of space in your Dropbox account is 2 Gigabytes. For $10/mo you can upgrade that to 1Terrabyte. But, there are also many promotions that allow you to earn more free space. You can sign up for dropbox using this link and both you and I will get 500MG extra free space!
Every traveler needs a Dropbox! For more information, see the Dropbox Tour.
If you’re like us, you find yourself taking more and more pictures with your smartphone instead of your normal camera. That really messes up our procedures of getting the pictures from the camera to the computer and organizing them there. How do we get the pictures from the smartphone to the computer? If you are a Geeks on Tour member, you can watch some past tutorial videos on how to transfer pictures by attaching a cable from the phone to the computer: Import Pictures with Android and Import pictures from an iPad/iPhone. But now, there is an even easier option.
Dropbox, is the indispensible Cloud storage and synchronizing utility. We’ve written about it several times, and mention it in almost every seminar since it’s our Dropbox folder where we store all our seminar materials! Dropbox also has a special feature called “Camera Upload.” It is nothing short of magic! Now I take a picture on my phone and the next time I sit down at my computer, that picture is there in the Dropbox/Camera Upload folder.
Add More Dropbox Storage Space by Using Camera Uploads
The Free version of Dropbox starts you out with 2GB of storage space. If you’re going to upload pictures from your smartphone to your Dropbox account, you’ll need more! The folks at Dropbox realize this. If you install the latest version of the Dropbox App on your Android or iPhone, you will earn up to 3GB in additional storage. You will earn the additional storage for every 500MB that you actually use in Camera Uploads. Once you’ve used it, you can move the photos from your dropbox folder to your Pictures folders and you still have the extra Dropbox storage available to you.
Steps to use the Camera Upload Feature
You must already have a Dropbox account. This means you have an account on www.Dropbox.com and you also have downloaded the app to your computer and have a Dropbox folder on your computer.
Download and install the latest Dropbox App on your phone. Get it from the App Store on your iPhone or iPad, or the Play Store on your Android phone or tablet.
Make sure the Camera Upload option is turned on for the App on your mobile device. Notice in the screen image at right that you have the option to allow the uploads only when your phone is connected to WiFi. This means that it won’t use up the GB on your data plan. It also means that the upload may not be instant. If you want the upload instantly, and don’t mind using your cellular data plan, then choose the second option.
That’s it! From now on, when you take a picture using your phone, it will automatically be uploaded to your Dropbox account online, AND synchronized with your dropbox folder on your computer.
We have such fun showing this in our seminars. I feel like a magician. I take a picture of someone in the front row of our seminar using my phone. Then I immediately set the phone down, raising my hands in the air. “Look Ma, No hands!” While Jim is sitting at the computer, which is projected onto a big presentation screen, he opens the Dropbox Camera Upload folder and voila! the picture I just took is there.
Viewing the Camera Uploads with Picasa
The Camera Uploads folder on your computer, is within the Dropbox folder. You can view it using Windows Explorer (or Macintosh Finder) just like any other folder. I check it regularly and move the pictures from the Camera Uploads folder to a current folder in My Pictures. This leaves the Camera Uploads folder empty for receiving new uploads, and Picasa will see the new pictures in My Pictures the next time you open Picasa.