The following Plus Edition article is written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Note: This is an updated version of an article I published last year. Several details have changed since then so I have updated the article.
I love the program called Dropbox and have written about it several times. You can read my earlier articles if you start at http://goo.gl/dWzhB. Judging by the feedback that newsletter readers have posted at the end of those articles, many people agree with my opinion of the program. Dropbox appears to be very popular.
Dropbox is a multi-purpose program. It provides off-site backup of files that you select. Those files can be almost anything: text files, word processing documents, genealogy databases, pictures, .mp3 music files, or most anything else.
In addition to backups being stored on Dropbox's servers, the files also can automatically be copied (replicated) to other computers you own or to computers owned by friends or relatives. For instance, if you own both a desktop and a laptop computer, Dropbox can be used to make certain you always have the latest version of a file available on both systems. This can be great for keeping the latest version of your genealogy database on both systems.
Dropbox also can create backup copies of data on your office computer by automatically copying it to your system at home. Dropbox also has an option to either copy everything or copy only specific folders. For instance, I have one folder under Dropbox that is shared with my daughter. We use it mostly to exchange family photographs, especially of my new granddaughter. However, we also have old family photographs in the same folder and sub-folders. Any time I add a new photo to any of my computers, my daughter's computer gains a copy of it within seconds and vice-versa: when she adds new photos to that folder, my computer has a copy almost immediately.
Dropbox also allows for file retrieval from any web browser. When traveling, I can use a friend's computer or a computer at an Internet café or at a public library to access my files and photos.
Dropbox is a great service that is free for storing up to two gigabytes of data. Even more storage space is available for a modest fee. Details are available at http://www.dropbox.com.
In the past, I protected my private information by encrypting it immediately when stored on the local hard drive in the Dropbox folder. Since the data is already encrypted before being sent to Dropbox, even the Dropbox employees cannot access it. If any Dropbox employee looks at my data, all he or she will see is a bunch of gibberish. Data being sent and received is also protected since it, too, is fully encrypted before being sent.
Manually encrypting each file that I want to keep private is an effective, but somewhat unwieldy, solution. I have to remember to encrypt each file manually. Once the encrypted files had been replicated to my laptop computer, I had to manually decrypt them before use. Luckily, I have found a better solution.
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