DropBox : Great utility for syncing files between computers

When I purchased my Apple iMac last month, I was offered the option of signing up for an Apple subscription service called MobileMe, which has several nice online features for syncing and staying connected with my Mac. For example, with MobileMe you can sync your mail, calendar, contacts, etc. between your Apple devices (e.g., Mac, iPod Touch, iPhone). You also have cloud storage where you can easily store data on Apple’s servers and have access to it from your Mac or any web browser. This service goes for $99 per year, and is a good deal if you want to keep your multiple Mac devices in sync. I, however, currently own just one Apple device (my iMac) so I don’t have a real use for this service.

The one attractive thing about MobileMe was the “iDisk” or cloud storage of up to 20 GB, which would allow me to conveniently store files for all of my computers and laptops to access. Fortunately, there’s a few different options available other than MobileMe to do this same function. The best that I’ve found is called DropBox, which allows you to have a folder in the cloud for file storage. You can then automatically sync those files to any computer you choose (PC or Mac) and also access files via apps on the iPhone and Palm WebOS devices. In addition, you can  send shared folder links from DropBox to your friends or anyone via email and let them have access to certain files. It’s a great way to share files (or keep files in sync) when working on a big project with other people.

The best thing about DropBox, is that they offer 2 GB of cloud storage for free. If you need more storage, you can pay a small monthly fee. I’m currently using the basic free service to have a convenient place to put files for my Mac, personal laptop, and work laptop to share. For small files this works great, but if you’re trying to transfer larger files (say, a few hundred Megs) it can take a while to upload, download, and sync.

As I said there’s other similar cloud services available, but I particularly like DropBox because it’s very easy to use, unobtrusive, and has a web-based login page that allows me to upload and download files. Definitely worth checking out!

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