One of the things I take for granted is the ability for me to work just about anywhere and on any computer. Naturally I have my own laptop that I can use for web design, updating content, connecting with people through social media, etc. but I can just as easily sit down at our desktop computer and pick up right where I left off. All thanks to the…

…cloud…

It’s a word that even non-techie folks are surprisingly aware of. But it is the key to how I’m able to work so easily without having to worry about keeping all of my (and my client’s) data in sync and up to date. So I thought I’d write a post about how it all works.

Dropbox

Dropbox (signup for this free service here) is the best thing to come along since sliced bread. It is a program that you install on your Mac or Windows PC that keeps any documents that you throw at it in sync and up to date – across multiple computers and, even better, multiple people.

The way that I use it is to save any documents a client might send me (photos for a website, Word files with content for a newsletter, logos for a video) into a folder on my computer labelled something like “2011-09 Website”. That folder happens to be inside another folder called “Dropbox” – which is the key to the whole thing working.

The standard configuration of Dropbox puts a new folder named “Dropbox” in your user folder on Mac OS X or in your My Documents folder on Windows. Once configured and running, Dropbox then watches that folder for any changes – new documents, saved documents, renamed documents, moved documents, etc.- and then updates the Dropbox servers with the changes. Any other computers that are also hooked into your Dropbox account will automagically get the changes.

So going back to my “2011-09 Website” folder that I have for a client’s files – if I save a logo.jpg file to that folder on my laptop and then later in the day decide I want to look at it on my desktop computer, I can. I just pull up that same “2011-09 Website” folder on my desktop and the logo.jpg file should be there just as I left it on my laptop.

It takes people a bit to wrap their head around what’s going on. But it’s basically like having your own server to connect to from anywhere at anytime and get the latest version of your documents without having to remember if you saved it most recently on your laptop, desktop or at your friend’s house.

It’s also a great backup plan. Keep key documents on Dropbox and you’ll have access to them even if your computer breaks down.

Dropbox is free for up to 2GB of storage and moves up to $10/month for 50GB of storage or $20/month for 100GB of storage. With a paid plan, Dropbox adds version history so you can go back and restore a previously saved copy of a document.

While it’s fairly simple to get it started, if you’d like help setting up Dropbox for your home or office, please get in touch with me as I love to help technology make people’s lives easier.

Published by Chris Enns

Hi! I’m the guy behind Lemon Productions. I love to help people use technology and the web to create, promote and build neat stuff.

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