Dropbox - Sharing, synching and backup has never been so easy

I wanted to write this post already for a longer time, actually I had it (between my other approx. 30 not yet finished posts) in the draft folder. Anyway :)

What is Dropbox?
With easy words, it is a tool that allows you to synchronize, backup as well as share your files and photos over the internet. And it's really easy. All you have to do is to sign up for an account and download the Dropbox program. It will run in the background, synchronizing a certain folder (which obviously you can specify) from your hard disk to your online account. On another computer (e.g. at home) you repeat this and voila, all of your files will be synched by Dropbox.

You work always on the same computer and so synching with Dropbox is useless?
I don't think so. Dropbox does not just simply synchronize your files, but it does also a great job in backing them up. Every modification on your files which are managed by Dropbox are automatically under version control. What does this mean: You can always revert to a previous version of your file. Take the following: you write on a document, on a report or something, directly in the folder which is synched by Dropbox. After some time you recognize that you've overwritten parts of the text assuming to make it better, but at the end you see that still the old one would have been better. Now, "undo" may not work any more since the modifcations may have been days ago and you obviously don't have any backups :) Your lucky, Dropbox did it for you. What you have to do is to just go to the main Dropbox website, log in and navigate to your file on the web interface. There you click on "Revisions" and you will see all of the versions of your file. you can simply click restore to and you will have the previous version again on your file system.

And the greatest thing, you can even restore deleted files.

This can also be quite interesting for software developers. Most of us use version control systems (SVN, CVS, TFS,...) for tracking the source code versions and for also having a continuous backup. I'm versioning quite all of my code because there are just a number of advantages I don't want to miss. However for small experiments or projects, setting up a repository is often quite tedious. So what I do now is to just put my Visual Studio solution or Eclipse workbench directly into the folder managed by dropbox. In this way my files are automatically versioned and I don't have to set up anything.
But attention, this works great if you work alone on a project, if you're a group, it's still better to set up the normal version control system :)

Why is Dropbox so great?
Because it's so easy to use and it's free! You have just to register for an account and install the application on your computer. Then you can just work normally as you always did on your Windows Explorer, on Linux and even on MacOS X.

Do you want an account?
Dropbox is out of beta and is now open to everyone. But still, if you want to join, I ask you to just leave a comment with your email (don't write it totally, but use some replacements such as [at] for @ in order to not be catched by spammers) below and I'll send you an invitation. We will both have the advantage of getting extra storage space on Dropbox :)



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