Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to use Dropbox? 7 tips ...

Dropbox is one of the greatest software solutions today. We can find a bunch of big inventions of computer technology in it: cloud services, online backup, one-click-file sharing, etc.

At first there is a program which is available for nearly all platforms - Windows, Mac, Linux and you can reach it even on iPhone … but I am sure that somehow you can use it on Opensolaris as well. (More than that, I can even check my Dropboxed files on my Samsung U600 phone, with the built-in browser.)

Then there is the cloud service – it synchronizes everything in a given folder, between the cloud and all your computers. You can limit the bandwidth usage, preventing Dropbox from eating up all your network resources.

You initially get 2 GB of space, which is expandable up to 100 GB, for a small amount of money. But you also can get some free bonus space for inviting friends to Dropbox.

And what is it good for? Besides general purposes here are some specific examples of how to use your Dropbox in a very cool way!

1. Bittorrent download with syncing

If you have a bittorrent client on your home PC and you want to initiate a download from work, a very convenient way to do it is Dropbox. Most of the popular torrent clients can be configured to add torrents from a specific directory. All you have to do it enter your Dropbox folder here, and everytime you copy the torrent file to Dropbox at work, it synchronizes immediately, and the client starts the download. What a great feeling when things just work this simple! 

2. Syncing Internet Explorer Favorites

If you use Internet Explorer as a browser, you can easily set the Favorites folder to another place than default. I suggest to set it inside the Dropbox folder on each of your computers, and your Favorites will always be synchronized.

In Windows XP you can find this setting in the registry (under „HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders”), or you can change this with some useful softwares like TweakUI.

In Windows Vista or 7 it is much easier and faster, just right-click on Favorites icon and select Properties and then Location. Here you are.

3. Automatic Backup

You don’t have to worry about deleting an important file or folder – Dropbox backs up everything, and you can resume to previous versions of a file, or even restore deleted ones. There is a time limit though, after a month the files are really gone.

4. Instant Syncing

One of the least-documented and less-known features is what I call instant syncing. Dropbox is – for example – able to synchronize your 50-100 MB e-books at a glance. Without uploading. I mean it. How does it work? The client makes a CRC check on the file you want to upload and sends it with some other data to the server. If the Dropbox server finds the file at another user and the CRC check is also OK, it simply copies the file to your account and says it is synchronized. What a great feature! Not just saving you the time of uploading, but preserves their bandwidth as well!

Your other clients must download the file as normal, of course. 

5. LAN Sync

Another nice feature about syncing is the LAN Sync. If you have a local network with Dropbox installed on more computers, files can be synchronized relatively fast, because they don’t have to go through the internet. A small drawback is that Dropbox uploads the file to the cloud first, but this may change in the future.

6. Settings syncing

If you can tell a software to save its settings in a specific folder, you can sync it with Dropbox. This way you can have the same saved game files on your PC’s, for example.

Or calendar files.

Or e-mail boxes.

Dropbox doesn’t upload the entire file, only the changes, so large files are not such a problem.

7. Wallpaper syncing

I like to change my desktop wallpaper anytime I see a really great one. But I hate do to it on all my computers and operating systems everytime.

To solve this I created a Wallpapers section in the Dropbox Photos folder, and there is one file called wallpaper.jpg which is set as wallpaper in all my systems. When I find a new picture I like, I only have to change this one file, and all my systems see this after syncing.

This is the most spectacular in my Ubuntu systems because when the file changes, the wallpaper changes immediately. In Windows sadly you have to point to the file again and set it as wallpaper manually, which ruins the comfort, but I’m sure there are some workarounds.

That’s all for now, the possibilities are without limit. Dropbox is evolving, and you can be part of it with new ideas and your votes in Votebox. This is the place where you can vote for features you want to be developed first.

Explore it for yourself!


  1. Hey there, I'm Spencer. I work for a company named Syncables, and after reading through this, I think you might want to check us out. We make a localized syncing software that I've found makes a great compliment to dropbox. Our client is cross-platform, and it lets you keep your files, contacts and email synced between your computers over your home or office network, which is great for when you can't get an internet connection but still need to transfer things between your machines. Additionally, Syncables includes a media component, which allows you to upload your media to any phone or usb drive.

    Anyway, come check us out sometime at!

  2. Hi!
    Thanks for reading this, sure I'll check you out. This seems interesting!