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Monday
Mar152010

Drop it like it's hot...?

Ah, the seemingly never ending quest to find the ultimate online backup solution!  Becoming increasingly aware of the need to back up my important documents and photo's at home I've been on the lookout for an online backup service in recent months.  Whilst having found Amazon's S3 technology impressive, without a standardised client app from Amazon themselves, I found most of the S3 compatible software on the internet to be in beta and/or just plain rubbish.  Then a friend of mine (thanks Nick!) pointed me in the direction of Dropbox.

Far from new, Dropbox has been around for a few years and support for it has grown to the point where they have over 4 million users and have received numerous awards and press coverage.  So I decided to take a look and see if it provided what I want out of an online backup service.  Basically Dropbox is a synchronised folder between your PC, your Mac, or your iPhone.  So whilst not directly aimed as an online backup solution, the fact that it achieves this synchronising via its 'cloud' means it can be effectively used this way.  In fact, in my opinion this offers far more flexibility than the standard online backup offerings.

Installation is extremely simple and you get 2Gb of storage for free.  Once installed, you get a new Dropbox icon on your desktop.  Then, any files you drop into the folder will be synchronised with the Dropbox 'cloud', and subsequently any other PC, Mac or iPhone you have connected to your Dropbox account.  You can even use their website to publish public content to share with non-Dropbox users such as image galleries a la Picasa or Photobucket.  It really does have to be seen working to appreciate just how simple and slick the process is.  I sat with Dropbox open on my work laptop and at the same time opened the Dropbox app on my iPhone.  I deleted a file on the iPhone and literally within 2 seconds the tray icon on my PC indicated the file had been deleted.  Impressive stuff. :)

I'll certainly play with it a bit more before I opt for one of the pro packages ($9.99 per month for 50Gb or $19.99 per month for 100Gb), but I'm convinced this is the closest I've come to finding the right package for my online backup needs.  Just the sheer slickness and ease of use has impressed me along with features such as the 30 day deletion history.  That coupled with being able to take advantage of how it works to do some really clever stuff, such as centralising your World of Warcraft interface folders for a persistent interface between multiple PC's, I can really see myself finding alot of use for Dropbox.  

And hey, any company that uses the DeLorean from Back to the Future in one of their product tours means it has to be awesome right? :)

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