How I Use Dropbox For Maximum Productivity

53 Comments

Dropbox LogoThe 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.

53 Comments

Andrew

I am new to dropbox. It seems I don’t end up with a local copy of files on mi ipod. So I can only view pdfs etc if I have wifi. Am I missing something?

Jason

I have a few machines, and just discovered dropbox. I am now using it to:

– sync my favourites
– sync my password storage with keepass

I am also experimenting with a small TrueCrypt file (synching via dropbox) to keep a few personal things secure.

roboform

jocko, can you elaborate? Roboform files are quite small compared to the free Droppbox allotment. Please see my comment above.

Feel free to email me for an answer to your specific question.

Simon Davis
Marketing Manager/Siber Systems
s2davis (at) roboform [dot] com

jocko jackamone

you dumb cock, dropbox only moves a certain amount of my roboform passwords. not all of them. disinformation

Øistein Gjøvik

I use DropBox ALL the time. For example for syncing my genealogy database. It can’t be kept online and I prefer Family tree maker 2009 before web2.0 solutions like Geni.com.
Another incredibly useful thing is that utorrent can watch a folder for any .torrent file in it. So it’s very easy to start a torrent download from a remote computer. Just upload the torrent file and the sync’ed computer with utorrent running will pick it up.
Software with watched folder options are great with dropbox. For example Evernote could perhaps make use of it (haven’t tried it).

And when one of my laptops was stolen, I could see in dropbox when it was connected to the Internet, and thus tell the police that “sorry, the bandits (who commited the crime in Norway) are noe in Poland, or have sold the computer to some Polish person”. (Not that it helped, but in principle it could :)

Rude

I heard with dropbox you can only sync one folder – is this still the case?

I use syncplicity as I can specify any folder i want to sync to all my computers.

elldove

I know Dropbox is on its way with its own iPhone app, but I just figured out a great way to access dropbox on my iPod Touch:
Soonr.
Soonr is pretty similiar to Dropbox– more cloud file sharing goodness. It is more oriented towards projects and team cloudness, and if you’re more interested in something more as an informal, personal file cloud Dropbox is better.
But, Soonr has a free iPhone (and desktop) app. It’s desktop (I’m on a Mac but there’s a windows version) app works pretty similiar to Dropbox. You assign a sync folder.
The trick is, if you assign your PC’s Dropbox folder as Soonr’s sync folder then when you add a file, pdf, document, photo to dropbox it syncs up to both soonr and dropbox.
On the Soonr iPhone app you can then access, view, and manage these files pretty nicely.

roboform

Thanks for the article :-)

We’ve heard a number of our users use dropbox to sync/backup their RoboForm files.

I should caution that the only difficulty with Dropbox is that (at least as of a few weeks ago), they did not offer the option to create an ‘exclude filter’ for a particular file or file type. Within the RoboForm User Data folder, certain files should not be synced across computers. If Dropbox would add this exclude functionality all would be perfect however :-)

We currently propose 2 things for Dropbox users in order to complement their existing set-up:

a) Try out RoboForm Online: https://online.roboform.com This is our own free online synchronization for RoboForm data that allows them to access their RoboForm data in the cloud.

b) Use a desktop sync application that has an exclude feature to sync from the RoboForm User Data folder to the Dropbox folder. We have our own file synchronization software GoodSync (www.goodsync.com) but most programs out there will do the job.

In addition, we have a lot of GoodSync users that would *love* it if Dropbox offered WebDAV access (they currently don’t if I’m not mistaken), but I digress.

-Simon @ RoboForm.

Ian

Simon,
Will the lack of an exclude filter in DropBox cause any problems for RoboForm other than a gradual increase of “conflicted” versions of some files (e.g. cache), and forcing common options across all machines?

roboform

Common options are one possible problem (though not a big one for most people), the bigger problem is that the license file gets propagated and this causes RoboForm to require multiple activations on the same machine.

This only affects Pro users. Free users need not worry about this.

As mentioned, you can sync from your RoboForm Data folder to the dropbox folder with a different program that excludes the .rfo files and be fine for now until Dropbox is able to exclude files.

Scott Blitstein

Interesting – I’ve never had any issues but will have to look at this further. I have a copy of GoodSync (which I like a lot!) so that could work for me.

Thanks for the heads up.

SB

Theo W.

Dropbox is great. But why bother manually sync’ing roboform passwords with it.

I use LastPass. It is *free* and all synchronization is done automatically.

I swear by LastPass. It is awesome.

Scott Blitstein

I found LastPass to be a bit clunky compared to RoboForm when I looked at it last. Plus this works and all my data is already there.

SB

Juergen

a more secure alternative for password saving – KeePass (http://keepass.info/download.html). it uses a combo of password and passkey file to authenticate. I keep the key file local, the data file on DropBox. works well, and I feel good about the level of security.

one app that did not work out for me (and I dropped it by now, as I need the DropBox sync features by now :) ) is Personal Brain (http://www.thebrain.com/). for some reason, the app is constantly writing to file, which in the end did not work out w/ my DropBox setup. Instead, I’m not using FreeMind for my mind mapping needs (www.freemind.org), and am quite happy.

+1 for DropBox!

Scott Blitstein

I remember looking at keepass in the past but can’t recall why I dismissed it. I’ll take another look, particularly if it has Chrome support.

SB

OrganizedFellow

The best thing about KeePass in my opinion, is that it is cross-platform. There are versions available for Win, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Androidâ„¢ and I think also for BlackBerry.
I have a Windows machine at home with Dropbox. My wife and I both have our Androidâ„¢ phones, with Dropbox. They sync our KeePass database on the desktop.
Easy.

teddy

I found dropbox to be kind of slow: one of the major defects in it.when two of my other colleagues sitting next to me side by side upload files (say 20 odd files say 8mb each) to my boss in the US and if one of the machines were switched off, then when you return the next day and switch on your machine it sometimes about 48hours to synchronize the same files in my system. I believe dropbox is good for small number of files.

Scott Blitstein

I’ve experienced that sudden sync when offline for a while but that seems like an excessive amount of time. I’ve never experienced that sort of delay.

SB

Brian Jarvis

I tried Live Mesh and Dropbox and settled on Dropbox because it was much faster, more intuitive, and I liked the version control that is built in.

Olukayode

I use Live Mesh to achieve the same purpose, my roboform folder also syncs across multiple pcs with live mesh. Your review and dropbox website seems interesting and would like to give it a try but want to avoid duplication of services. Any thoughts in the difference (if any) from Live mesh. Thanks.

Scott Blitstein

I started using Dropbox first and never really saw any compelling need to switch or look elsewhere. Mesh looks like a great service though. The mobile client for Mesh might be of interest to me when / if they release it.

SB

puniaf

Thanks for reminding me about Dropbox – I’m finally going to check it out tonight. Isn’t it a good sign when you realize that it’s time to better organize your work flow ;)

Matthew Ash

Thanks for the tips. I’m a big fan of Dropbox myself. I’ve had a premium account for awhile now, and I tell everyone I know about it.

About RoboForm though. Why not use a service like http://www.mitto.com instead? With Roboform you still need to have the app installed, and be on a computer that you have your Dropbox synced with. You can use your Mitto account from anywhere though.

Scott Blitstein

Mark – After you move your roboform data to a folder in your dropbox, go to roboform options / user data / and use the set folder button to tell it to use that data in your dropbox. If you do this on all the machines you use, it will always update and use the current info.

Does that help?

SB

Jordan D

Scott, I have a question about roboform. It appears that I am using “goodsync” to sync my roboform data. Is there a way I can skip using goodsync b/c it looks like after a 30 day trial it’s no longer free. Is there a “Free” alternative? Your instruction would be greatly appreciated!

roboform

Hi Jordan, in the near future, RoboForm will not require the use of GoodSync for synchronization.

For now though, FYI if you are using GoodSync only to sync your RoboForm Data to our server it is 100% free in perpetuity, see our FAQ: https://online.roboform.com/faq#whatisgoodsync

Best,

Simon Davis
Marketing Manager
twitter.com/roboform
facebook.com/roboform

Mark M.

Can you explain what you mean when you write, “just point your computers to it”, regarding passwords?

Scott Blitstein

Thanks for the comments, am glad that others are finding Dropbox useful.

Thanks to Judi for clarifying the encryption of the password key. With a strong master password I feel that data is safe.

SB

Matt

Great Post.

Dropbox helps me to sync Firefox User Profiles in home, notebook and office computers.

Bernard

I have made the same discover and I fall in love literally with DropBOX..at the point I have made a web site in french (i am frenchie ;-) ) to explain how good is this service..
Really necessary…
My web is directbackup.fr and I have some reports in french indicating how I use this service.. even how to get a discount for the 100 GB option !
Bye
Bernard

Judi Sohn

Buddz, RoboForm (and 1Password) profile/keychain files are encrypted. As long as 2 different computers can use the same file at the same time, which I knew 1Password allowed and it’s nice to read from Scott that RoboForm does as well, there’s no security concern. Of course, it’s important to have a really safe master password to unlock the file.

buddz

Do you have any security concerns putting your passwords on their server? Maybe I haven’t thought this through enough but that is why I am hesitant to use Dropbox for sensitive files and passwords. let me know what you think about that.

Frank

I have Ubuntu doing daily incremental and weekly full backups to my dropbox for my more important folders. I also extract my installed apps list from dpkg on a daily basis , ready to restore in a flash.

I maxed out my box size, but I still hardly use more than 10% of my box.

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