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Review: Dropbox

For those of you that haven't heard of DropBox, it's essentially a synced drive that is stored on DropBox's servers (in the cloud).  Any file you put here is automatically synced to all the computers that you have the Dropbox software installed on.  Sort of like push email, but for whole files.

Signup was easy (I was given a beta code number), and took about 3 minutes from signup to download of the software, to installation, to the syncing of my first file.  Files are instantly synced and are very easy to tell the status of the sync by looking at the icon on the top of the screen (on my mac) as you can see in the below example.  A small unobtrusive icon that has the two arrows syncing when a file is being transferred.

Once all your files are sync'ed and the status is good, the icon will look like this:

So it's very simple to be able to see the status of your sync at any time.  How easy is it to drop files and get them uploaded?

See the DropBox folder the software installed?  That's all there is to it.  You can also upload and manage the files via their web page.  Here's a screenshot of the webpage with a file I uploaded (the backup of my Address Book)

Dropbox has software for both Windows and the Mac.  Linux is excluded, however, I am sure you could use the web GUI to get to your files.  

Now the obvious thing for me is, since I'm a Mac user is, how is this different from iDisk?  Well, one thing that is the most different, is files are pushed to the remote systems.  So if I upload a file at home, and at work on a separate computer I have the software installed the file will be pushed down to the local machine.  iDisk at this time requires a manual sync, which of course, can be automatic, but it's a bit different than a push.  I don't know if this will change with the MobileMe roll out from Apple in the beginning of July, so we'll see.

It appears as if you get 2 Gb of storage in the beta program, I imagine with tiered pricing once they come out of beta, there will be more storage.  But that remains to be seen.  As for security  all connections with the Dropbox servers are SSL encrypted.  All file transfers take place over 443, and you can navigate to it via https.

Now, being as I am security guy, what kind of security risk does this pose?  Well, no more than any other cloud storage option, however, since all traffic takes place over https/ssl/port 443, this will easily transverse proxies and other web limiting devices.  Which is good for ease of use, not so good for people trying to keep their files on their networks without your employees opening (basically, uh, yeah) a backdoor into your network introducing files into your network.  But again, it's no different from them bringing in a thumbdrive or using some other cloud storage service.

Overall, I think it's excellent, setup was easy and intuitive, and the software was easy to use.  Cross Platform integration is great, and am glad to see that someone is doing cloud storage well.

I have 10 invites to Dropbox, so if you are interested, please leave me a message in the comments.  I'm not going to give any invites to "Anonymous" so if you are interested, you have to have a name.  :)

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Peter said…
:) I hope you won't mind I find your blog through Google on DropBox. I was watching the growth of the service for a while until I wanted to try today. Joel, can I have an invitation from you to
Anonymous said…
Huh, works for mac? Spiffy, I'll take an invite.

Somehow, I want to say I've seen similar services though. Would have sworn Microsoft has something like this too... (and... Apple's iDisk, of course.)
Joel Esler said…
ibneko, i'll need your email address :)!
Raffi said…
Interesting. These apps have been popping up lately. I've been using Foldershare from MS to sync docs between my two Macs (go figure). The only problem is that there isn't a place on the web I can go to upload, view, download documents. This kind of solves that. looks interesting.
Pete Wood said…
Great write up, would love an invite if you still have some..
Joel Esler said…
Pete, email me your email.
Anonymous said…
This DropBox sounds exactly like Novell's open source IFolder, which works on Windows and Linux (either client or server on each), and is based on Mono. I think they have a Mac client too. I have built many of these servers in the past, and everyone loves it. Also can access via browser. Files are synced back to the server every 5 minutes or whatever time you wish.
Anonymous said…
On the subject of file backup, sharing and storage ...

Online backup is becoming common these days. It is estimated that 70-75% of all PC's will be connected to online backup services with in the next decade.

Thousands of online backup companies exist, from one guy operating in his apartment to fortune 500 companies.

Choosing the best online backup company will be very confusing and difficult. One website I find very helpful in making a decision to pick an online backup company is:

This site lists more than 400 online backup companies in its directory and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.
Karlo said…
An invite will be appreciated, thank you.
Michel said…
Would love to have an invite!
Ara said…
Hi Joel - I'd appreciate an invite too, if you still have any:

if you don't, maybe you or one of your readers could clarify whether the files stored in the dropbox cloud stay there until you need them, or take up HD space on all connected machines as soon as they are pushed. if that's the case, the advantage over idisk you mention could also be a disadvantage.
Joel Esler said…
yes the files are stored at each location.
could someone spare an invite to me, i'm stephen.jeffers at gmail dot com
l.y. said…
Would love an invite if you still have one! Thanks in advance :) - lesleyyeo at yahoo dot com
Joel Esler said…
Hey everyone, thanks for being so responsive. But I'm all out! If you still want one, send me an mail, and I'll file you in a folder in case I get more.

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