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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dropbox Review w/Chris Stern

My buddy Chris Stern introduced me to a pretty interesting online service called Dropbox. It's an awesome collaboration tool, and I'm excited to see the ways I end up using it. I planned to write a short summary of what it was about, when I had a great idea... get Chris to write it for me. :-)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Chris Stern.

In this review, we are going to take a look at a software program called Dropbox.  I was first introduced to this software program by Brian Mataish whom I know through Flickr.  He recommended this software program to me as an easy way to share photos for critiquing purposes.  In addition, he shared an easy way to export your photos from LR to Dropbox via an export preset.

Dropbox is a software program which allows you to do things like syncing files across multiple computers, sharing files with others via shared folders or to use as an online backup.  You are not limited in using the just one of the features, in fact, you can use them all if you would like.  The nice thing about Dropbox is it gives you 2GB of free storage space to use and you can get more web space by inviting friends to Dropbox who register and install the software.  The good thing is both you and your friend will get more storage space so it is a win-win situation. 

After downloading the software, there are a couple of things to note.  First of all, when downloading the software, I would recommend installing the Dropbox folder somewhere you have quick access to it.  I installed my Dropbox folder in the default location which is “My Documents.”  Secondly, in the notification area in the bottom right hand corner there is an icon for Dropbox.  By right clicking on the icon, you can get easy access to your Dropbox folder or launch the Dropbox website where you can log into your account.  

As a photographer, I am always looking for feedback regarding my photos and wanted an easy way to share my photos with other photographers.  Well, Dropbox offers this opportunity in the way of Shared Folders.  When you log into your Dropbox account, select the Sharing tab, and click on Share a folder.  It will then ask you to do of the following: create and share a new folder or create an existing folder.   In this case, I created a new folder.   You can name the folder any way you would like but if you share your photos with multiple photographers then I would recommend the following name convention  - ‘Your Last Name-Their Last Name.’  For example, if I was sharing my photos with Rob then I would name it ‘Stern-Jones.’  If he wanted to share photos with me, then he would create a folder such as ‘Jones-Stern.’    Next, you would input an email address to send the shared folder request.  If the other person does not have Dropbox, they will need to install the software in order to accept and have access to the shared folder.  

Dropbox - 1
Dropbox - 2
 

Once the request has been received by the other person, they will log into Dropbox to accept the shared folder invitation under the Sharing Tab.  

Now, this is where the fun begins.  If you are a Lightroom user, you can create a preset in Lightroom so when you export a photo it will be exported to Dropbox folder you designated.  One thing, I would recommend when creating a preset is to use the same folder name you created in Dropbox which will be easier for you to identify when exporting a photo to the shared folder.  For example, I created a Folder Name in LR as ‘Dropbox’ then created a preset called ‘Stern-Jones.’  

Dropbox - 3
 

Once you once you export the photo it will export the photo to the folder you requested and initiate a request to the other user stating there is a new file in the shared folder.  To see the file, log into your account on Dropbox and go to the Files Tab to select the folder where the file is residing.  

Here are a few more benefits of using this software:  

  1. Files uploaded to Dropbox via the desktop application have no file size limit. However, there is a 300MB cap on files transferred via the website  
  2. Your files are very secure as Dropbox uses Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3)  
  3. Files stored in Shared Folders can be only accessed by those authorized to view them
  4. Access to the files from anywhere there is access to the internet
  5. Access to history of actions via the Recent Events tab
  6. Mobile Access through iPhone or iPod Touch

If you work with photography mentor who lives far away, this tool can help bridge the divide by giving you easy access to sharing your photos for immediate feedback.  

I would highly recommend this software as it is very easy to use and straight forward.  You can try it out for free by downloading it at Dropbox.  

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Comments

On behalf of Dropbox, I would like to thank you for referencing Dropbox in your latest blog post.

In case you didn't already know Dropbox's user base has doubled in the past four months and now helps over 4 million people keep their digital media in sync across their Windows PCs, Linux machines, Macs, iPhones, and iPod Touches.

Dropbox has also won many industry awards ranging from Macworld, LAPTOP magazine, to industry awards like the best internet application at the “Crunchies”.

Because of great users like you, we continue to grow everyday. Thanks again!

yes ...
have been using dropbox for a few days now ...
great service ...
i like the sync speed and clean interface ...

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