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Dropbox, cloud file storage

Dropbox is a free cloud file storage service. It was one of the first to appear, and its use is widespread. If you don’t use Dropbox yet, you should seriously consider trying it out.

With Dropbox you can store files for your personal use and use them wherever you need them. You can also transfer files between two computers, or transfer files to your mobile. Finally, you can share files with your friends, or make them public for everyone. How do you do all this?

Below is a small manual to start using Dropbox.

Storing files

Starting to use Dropbox is very simple, you just have to follow the following steps.

That’s it. The program creates a folder in “My Documents”, called “Dropbox”. This folder is a “normal” folder, you can create subfolders, save any type of file, etc… To open it quickly, double-click on the Dropbox icon on the taskbar (bottom right, next to the clock).

The Dropbox program takes care of “synchronizing” the files between the folder on your computer and your Dropbox, copying the necessary files in both directions, until they are the same.

Using Dropbox as storage

To retrieve your files from another computer, you just have to install the Dropbox application, and enter your username and password. The program will download the files to the new computer. This way, it’s like carrying a USB memory stick with you at all times.

If the computer you are going to use is not your own, and you don’t want to synchronize all the files, it’s best to access your files through the Dropbox page, which allows you to download or upload files, without installing the program or synchronizing folders.

Finally, if you want to use Dropbox on your mobile or tablet, there are free applications in the Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry market that allow you to download and upload files from your Dropbox.

Sharing files with your friends

You can share a folder with one or more friends. To do this, you must,

  • Open the Dropbox folder on your computer.
  • Create a subfolder with the name you want (i.e. Shared with Alberto and Ana).
  • Right-click on the folder, and select /dropbox/share.
  • A window appears where you enter the emails of the people you want to share the folder with. Invitations to share the folder are sent to your friends.
  • Your friends accept the invitations and, if they want, change the name of the folder (i.e. Antonio changes it to “Shared with Benito and Ana”)

This creates a shared folder among all the members. The files that any member puts in, will appear to the others. It is a quick way to exchange files between two people, collaborate on a project, or, for example, share music with a group of friends.

Sharing files with everyone

Finally, Dropbox has the “Public” folder, which allows someone to download a specific file from your Dropbox, without creating a shared folder. It is useful for transferring large files, for example, a project to a client, or a program to a classmate, etc… To do this, you must,

  • Copy the file you want to share to the “Public” folder
  • Right-click, and select /dropbox/copy public link.
  • Send the link you copied to the person you want to share the link with (by email, post it on your blog, etc…).
  • The person clicks on the link and downloads the file.

It is important to say that at no time do they access your computer, they download it from the Dropbox server. It is similar to a Rapidshare account. At any time you can delete the file from your Dropbox, and it is no longer available for public download.