Ever rushed to the computer lab on the morning the paper was due to print out a paper? If so, have you ever popped your USB drive into the lab computer only to find an outdated draft of said paper? I have, and rushing back to my room to update files is not on my list of fun things to do before class.
Dropbox solves this and many other problems in my life, and it can help you out tremendously as well. Dropbox is a file sync service that creates a special folder on each of your computers. When you edit or add files to this folder, those files are synced to all of your devices. In addition, you can access your files from any computer via the Dropbox web interface. All of your files are backed up to their secure servers, and are only a login away when you need them. Finally, your files can be with you on the go by using the Dropbox iPhone and Android apps (It’s also coming out for Blackberry soon).
I’ve been using Dropbox to sync files on my Windows 7 desktop and my Macbook Pro, and it’s been working beautifully. I also use the iPhone app on my iPod Touch, and while it can’t display every filetype (particularly some leftover .odt’s I have yet to convert to Microsoft formats), it does a good enough job for when I’m sitting on the bus or in class without my laptop.
Dropbox is also useful for sharing files with other people. The service gives you the option to create a “Public” folder in your Dropbox folder and make this folder accessible to other people. I’m still experimenting with it, but I think this feature could be great for collaborating on documents. I’m also experimenting with making a web directory inside of it to allow collaborative web development across local web servers.
On the mobile front, Dropbox partners with other apps in order to provide more functionality. I use DocsToGo on my iPod for editing Office documents, and being able to sync my edits from my iPod to my computers is great.
Whatever you use computers for, Dropbox can probably be of use to you. It doesn’t completely replace Google Docs or Evernote, but for a lot of files it’s very useful. A free Dropbox account gets you 2gb of online storage – more than enough for most college students. Similar services like Box.net also offer free storage, but make you pay for desktop sync; they only offer online file access for free. For this reason I submit that Dropbox is the best option for your file syncing needs. Go make an account!
Have another service or tip to share? Post it in the comments!