How to easily share, back up, and sync your documents across devices

Scenario: One of my clients in Canada, let’s call him Al, just got himself a fancy schmancy smart phone (Samsung Galaxy IIX, an Android phone). Al has a PC in his home office (Sony Vaio) and acquired a 13″ Macbook laptop for travel. Now he needs to figure out how to easily transfer files between devices and make sure he’s only dealing with one version for each file. What’s the easiest solution?

Dropbox, a web-based file hosting service!!

There are many web-based services available to you to share, back up, and sync your files. After using Dropbox personally over 18 months, it’s quickly become my go to, and only,  file management provider. You need to sign up for a free account which will give you 2 GB of free storage in your Dropbox web-based account. If you like Dropbox and recommend it to friends, Dropbox will give you another 250 mb free of storage up to a max of 8 GB of free storage (at the time of writing this posting).

OK, so why is it so good?

  1. Dropbox encrypts your documents on the web using the same security measures that banks use for their online banking.
  2. Dropbox works behind the scenes when you have an Internet connection to transfer any updated or new documents that live in the folder(s) that you have told Dropbox to monitor. This means that you can still access your files when you don’t have an Internet connection (something that other web-based file hosting services don’t permit you to do). Plus if you open and modify a file when you’re offline, the next time you establish Internet connectivity, Dropbox updates your information automatically. Sweet!
  3. AND Dropbox easily lets you share specific folders with others.

Imagine this –  you are collaborating with a few others on an upcoming conference workshop and you need to finalize the outline. You set up a Dropbox folder called “conference workshop”. You share this folder with your colleagues (who also need a Dropbox account – again, it’s free to get). You create a new document called Outline and you put it in the “conference workshop” folder. Almost immediately your colleagues are notified of a new document. Amazing! One of your colleagues opens up the new document, reads the content, makes a small change, and resaves the document. Now you, along with everyone else who shares this folder, are notified of the modified document. Again, amazing! Dropbox makes file sharing so easy! And fun to use!!

Now back to Al. How does Dropbox help him with his situation of multiple devices? By installing Dropbox on his smart phone, on his PC, and on his Mac laptop, whatever documents or photos he puts into his Dropbox folders get immediately synced to his other devices. There’s no need to burn a CD, or save content to a USB stick. Simple and sweet! If Al accidentally loses one of these devices, or heaven forbid, he loses all three in one go, Al can still get access to all the information he put into his Dropbox folders by going to his web-based account on Dropbox. Whew!

Personally I use Dropbox to share, collaborate, and back up important information that I can’t afford to lose. That being said I do not use Dropbox for critical, sensitive information (like banking information, etc) nor do I use it to back up my photos (due to storage limit).  There was a minor breach of Dropbox earlier this year and the company fixed the security breach as soon as they found out about it. But it’s better to be safe and use the file hosting service to your own comfort level. I hope you like it as much as I do and now as much as Al does.

Published by

Susan Wheeler

I love to provide technology skills training and help in the workplace. There are so many wonderful tools and resources available to you so if you are not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

5 thoughts on “How to easily share, back up, and sync your documents across devices

  1. Susan, as you know I’m also a huge fan of DropBox – it’s part of my daily workflow. But there is a caveat that users need be aware when sharing a folder. Some, let’s call them “less technically-inclined” users with whom I work don’t “get” the idea of sharing 😉 If it’s in a folder they can access, well, it’s theirs to do with as they please, including toss in the trash. For this reason, while I do keep the main collaborative document in the shared folder, I also keep an up-to-date backup outside of DropBox in case something goes missing.

    Advanced DropBox users will know that you can undelete items, but it’s not an obvious option, and there is likely a time / size limit to the undelete feature.

  2. I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility problems? A small number of my blog readers have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any advice to help fix this issue?

    1. Thanks for your comment. No browser compatibility problems that I am aware of. As for advice? hmmm, not something I like to do when I don’t have firsthand knowledge of an issue. Reading between the lines it sounds to me like you are now testing your web site in various browsers, always a good practice for new web pages or web sites. Nice of your blog readers to let you know of the problems – use them as future testers. Good luck.

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