The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.Dropbox is a very popular file backup and replication program that is available for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Apple iPhone and iPad, almost all Android phones and tablets, Blackberry, and Kindle Fire. Lots of people use Dropbox simply for backup purposes, as an online storage area in the "cloud." They might create or receive a file of some sort (word processing document, photograph, video, genealogy database, or almost anything else) on any of the above devices that they want to safeguard. They place it in a Dropbox folder, and that file gets copied to Dropbox's safe and secure servers as soon as an Internet connection is available. Should a disaster ever strike, they can easily retrieve any or all the files they have saved on Dropbox's servers. You can do this, too, but much more as well.
Dropbox has many genealogy uses. For instance, I use it to keep the genealogy programs on my desktop computer and my laptop in sync all the time. I always have the latest version of the databases on whatever computer I am using at the moment.
Dropbox is a nice service to have if you own one computer. However, if you have more than one computer in your life, even a handheld computing device, you really need Dropbox. This online service is a quick and easy way to share files between computers and mobile devices. For example, you can snap a picture with your cell phone's camera, and then send it to Dropbox's servers. If your desktop computer at home or your laptop computer in the hotel room is powered on and connected to the Internet at the time, the photo will be also be copied to those computers within a minute or two. If those computer(s) are powered off, Dropbox's servers will patiently wait until they are powered on and connected to the Internet; then the files are copied at that time.
The same will be true for other files: word processing documents, recipes, income tax records, genealogy databases, spreadsheets, and any other files you place in the Dropbox folder. Of course, that folder also can have dozens, even hundreds, of subfolders as well.
Once installed on your computer, Dropbox creates a special Dropbox folder in your file system. All you do is drag a file to that folder, and it is uploaded to your online Dropbox account, making it almost instantly available at any of your other Dropbox devices. Just click on the Dropbox folder or app at the other end to find and download your file. This is a whole lot easier than emailing files to yourself or running back and forth between computers with a flash drive. You can access documents, automatically add photos, and show off videos from anywhere.
NOTE #1: Dropbox will automatically copy files to Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers since they normally have disk drives with large storage capacity. Storing hundreds of files on a computer with a disk drive of 100 gigabytes or more of available storage space is usually not a problem.After using Dropbox for a few weeks, I moved ALL the files in my Documents folder to the Dropbox folder. All files I have created since then that would have gone to the Documents folder have instead been saved in the Dropbox folder. My Documents folder now is empty. Instead, all the files I create are now safely backed up on Dropbox's servers and also stored on my laptop computers. All the files are also available at any time on my iPhone and iPad devices.
The process is a bit different on handheld computers with limited storage space, such as "smartphones" and handheld tablets. The Dropbox software for devices with limited storage space provides an index of all the available files and then waits for the user to ask for one or more files to be transferred. When the user request(s) the files, the items requested are then transferred over the Internet from Dropbox's servers to the handheld device. Only the requested files are transferred, not everything. In this manner, it is possible to have gigabytes and gigabytes of files available on request, but not transferred to the handheld device(s) limited storage space until needed.
Best of all is the price. The Dropbox software is always available free of charge, and the company even provides up to two gigabytes of free storage for each Dropbox user. Indeed, that is probably sufficient storage space for most users. However, anyone who needs even more storage space can purchase the required space for rather modest prices: up to 100 gigabytes of available storage space is available for $9.99 per month or $99 per year, if paid once a year. (I upgraded to the 100-gigabyte option although I still have not filled it.) Up to 500 gigabytes can be stored at higher prices. Dropbox will even offer more than 500 gigabytes of storage space if you upgrade to the Business version.
Note #2: The Business version of Dropbox has more storage space available and additional features for workgroups. However, I suspect that few readers of this newsletter have any need for the Business version. I will ignore it for the remainder of this article. If you have a need for Dropbox at the office to share documents amongst your coworkers, look at https://www.Dropbox.com/business.While these are reasons enough to sign up, this is just the beginning of what you can do with Dropbox.
The remainder of this article is for Plus Edition subscribers only. SUBSCRIBE NOW to read this article.
If you have a Plus Edition user ID and password, you can read the full article right now at no additional charge in this web site's Plus Edition at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=25839. This article will remain online for several weeks.
If you do not remember your Plus Edition user ID or password, you can retrieve them at http://www.eogn.com/wp/ and click on "Forgot password?"
If you decide to subscribe to the Plus Edition right now, you will be able to immediately read this article online. What sort of articles can you read in the Plus Edition? Click here to find out.
For more information about subscribing to the Plus Edition of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, visit http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/plusedition.html.