Dropbox is one of those handy inventions where the more you use it, the more you come up with reasons to use it. Now if you don''t have access to an online server to share your movie clips and graphics, this just might be the next best thing. Dropbox is a cloud-based file sharing service that syncs file across all your computers, supporting Windows, Mac and Linux. It works with files (video, graphics, text, anything) of any size, and it syncs automatically whenever a new file appears or a change is detected. Best of all, it''s free for a 2GB account.
Installation is easy. You just download the software (at http://www.dropbox.com) and create a Dropbox account. The program creates a folder on your computer, and you can create subfolders within this. Drag files into this folder, and you''re done. The content automatically starts syncing to the cloud. When you move over to your laptop or other PC and install Dropbox, the folder is recreated on that computer, and syncing begins. Once you have all your computers set up (mobile too, there is also an iPhone, Android, Blackberry and iPad Dropbox app), all your devices remain in sync. You can even access Dropbox in a web browser if you don''t want to install the program. The software uses “military grade encryption,” so transfers are secure.
File sharing works just as easily. To share a file, just click on it and set who can see it — the public or a specific user. You can even e-mail the link to a folder to someone, so you can work on some comps and immediately e-mail it to a client. Sharing folders allows numerous features; you can invite several people to the same folder, see others'' changes instantly, and even create sharable online photo galleries. Want to remove access to a shared folder? One click, and the sharing is disabled, and the folder is removed from the other person''s computer.
Pricing is flexible, with a free 2GB account to anyone who signs up and an upgrade of $9.99 month/$99 year for 50GB or $19.99 month/$199 year for 100GB. If that is not enough, you can purchase Dropbox for Teams. This offers advanced features such as shared quotas, centralized administration and Dropbox Rewind, which lets you rollback and “undo” sync changes. This is much easier than creating multiple new version numbers of projects; now you can just save to the cloud and then undo if you want to “un-sync” it.
Dropbox is perfect for working between creative teams remotely and sharing final versions with clients. It also is handier than using e-mail services for large files. You basically just click on a file to get the URL and then e-mail the client the link. If you have a fast broadband connection, files sync quickly. They are meant to sync quietly in the background, and you can even set the preferences to limit the upload/download (if you have other web stuff going on) or sync using unlimited full bandwidth to get things moving rapidly. Dropbox for Teams is handy if you want to go pro, with rates of $795 a year for five users and 350GB. And you can add more storage at $200 per 100GB per year.
Media artists and producers are now able to move graphics, Photoshop files, video comps and all kinds of creative content back and forth very easily. I have a team of designers, video producers and web developers, and we use it weekly to quickly move stuff back and forth. It''s perfect because it works just like any other folder on your HD, except we can update and change files quickly. I also use it to send clients a link so they can see the progress on a project. And remember that in addition to syncing to the cloud, it will sync to all your computers, so you can have backups everywhere. The software is slick and works just like the operating system. With a price of free for 2GB cloud-syncing, it''s worth a download to see what Dropbox can do for you.