Okay, so love is a pretty strong word. But Dropbox is one of a few programs that I feel have been necessary to survive law school.
Why? That’s also an easy question. It provides virtually instantaneous backup to the “cloud” and on my computer; the ability to share instantly with friends and between my computers; it’s free.
Why Dropbox is Better
If I’ve learned anything by watching panicking fellow 1Ls, its back up your stuff. I’ll start by quickly covering other methods for “backing up” and how Dropbox has outdone them.
The USB “dongle”
Besides just being old school, jump drives are prone to getting lost, misplaced, dropped in hot coffee, wearing out, not having enough space, and costing money.
Does anyone really regularly use CDRWs to backup their files?
First, it costs $99 a year (although you can find the occasional discount on Amazon). It’s also S-L-O-W, and in my experience, prone to syncing errors. On a couple of occasions it’s taken over a minute to backup a single 5 page Word doc.
Time Machine and other backup solutions
These solutions can be great if you’re looking to backup your ENTIRE hard drive. Drawbacks include SLOW backups, having to remember to connect to back up, and you generally have to pay money.
Primary limitations here are file types, inability to have files managed in a folder on your computer, and having to access the Web in order to access your files. While Gears is a solution to having to access the Web, it doesn’t like the latest version of Safari.
They’re Microsoft products. Translation: If you were using Live Sync, you would have been unable to access your files after upgrading to Snow Leopard for almost 3 months.
Dropbox Addresses All These Issues
Dropbox lets you create a folder on your computer. Drop anything in the folder and almost instantly it’s backed up to the web. Make a change to a document? BAM, backed up. Can’t get to your computer? Go to www.getdropbox.com or to the free iPhone app and you’ve got access to all your files, to share, email, or delete them. One of the best things about Dropbox is that it’s seamless. Once you’ve installed and setup Dropbox, you won’t even know it’s running. Anything you drop, change or save in the dropbox folder automatically gets synched to the web. You’ll never have to worry whether you backed something up, or what to do if you left your computer at home.
Space. Dropbox starts by giving you 2GB free. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, for me it’s been more than sufficient for all my law school related documents, web files, pics, etc. Dropbox also allows you to “earn” extra space by inviting a friend. If you invite a friend who joins, you BOTH get an extra 250MB. You can earn an extra 3GB of space, totaling 5GB, which makes Dropbox competitive with every other free service. If you’re looking for more space you can always upgrade, but the plans are pricy.
Overall, Dropbox is a great online file sync system that’s fast, free, and reliable. It’s a definite must have for any law student’s Mac.