The other day, some friends and I were discussing the various productivity tools and services that we rely on to manage our lives and our businesses. The usual question came up, “What application or service do you really rely on the most?”
To answer this question, I wanted to move beyond the standard CRM and invoicing tools which are critical to the day-to-day functioning of my business, and share something that might not be so obvious. The first thing that popped into my mind was file sharing and syncing app Dropbox, and even after more discussion and heated conversation, nothing could change my answer. The benefit of synchronized files and access from any PC is obvious, but as I’ve been using the service it has really become a critical part of my daily process.
Dropbox is a file sharing application that is amazingly simple to use. The installation creates a Dropbox folder on your computer — drop in a file and it miraculously appears on all of your shared computers. Individual folders can also be shared with other users. Here are some ways that I use Dropbox for maximum productivity.
Password Synchronization: With the sheer volume of user accounts I manage, a good password management system is critical. I’ve come to rely on RoboForm for this purpose, and Dropbox makes it dead simple to keep all of my account information and passwords in sync. Just move your RoboForm profile to a Dropbox folder, point all your computers to it and voila — easily log in to any of your sites from any of your computers, and never forget a password again.
Simple Network Sharing: For some of my home or small business clients, particularly those using laptops away from their offices, Dropbox is often a better solution for file sharing than setting up a shared network folder. The built-in versioning functionality is really handy and the ability to access files when away from the home or office is much appreciated. When the client returns to the office or checks in from a coffee shop, any changes to the files they are working on are automatically pushed back to the other users on their network.
File Distribution: I’ve set up shared Dropbox folders for a number of my clients and find it a great way to distribute reports and other information to them. The “push” of the information to them removes the need for them to seek out or retrieve the data that they need. It also makes it really easy for them to share files back to me, without needing to worry about email limits and such. Because there are no new interfaces to learn, it also has a very shallow learning curve. This makes adoption for the less tech-savvy much easier.
The fact that Dropbox is so easy to use and so flexible makes it a great addition to my services toolbox. Dropbox is free for up to 2GB of storage with monthly plans available, up to $19.99 for 100GB.
How are you enhancing your productivity with Dropbox? I would love to hear about your creative uses for the service in the comments.