“Where is that document ?!”
I think we’ve all had this experience: we’re in a hurry and need that one receipt, statement, letter, picture . . . but can’t find it!
The problem we have today . . . and really have had for years . . . is paper clutter. But the great news is that there are solutions . . . and Dropbox may be one of them.
I have tried different apps over the years to help me get a handle on the mass amount of paper documents I need to handle. And one that I consistently use is Dropbox. If you have not tried it before, here’s a Dropbox intro to help.
What to Store
We can organize and store:
- documents like letters and reports and emails
- we can also store other things like videos and images
Dropbox is an online storage product. It stores our documents online.
- Some call this a cloud storage system
- and some call this an online backup system
Why backup? Keep reading …
Where are your files?
We connect to Dropbox via the internet. Therefore, internet connection is required.
- The basic premise: When we install Dropbox on our computer, a special Dropbox folder is created.
- Yes, the file is saved in our Dropbox folder on our computer.
- This special Dropbox folder has a corresponding area on the Dropbox server.
- Dropbox automatically synchronizes the files via the internet and our data is also stored remotely on the Dropbox server.
Some people think that files are “in the cloud”, but they’re actually at two places: on our computer and on the Dropbox server. So, that is why Dropbox is referred to as an online backup system.
Benefit #1: flexible access
We not only have the file on our computer, but since we have an identical copy of our file at Dropbox, a main benefit is that we can access that file from another computer.
The problems of “Oh no, it’s at work” … “Oh no, it’s at home” goes away. We can access our files at the office and at home. The days of dragging around a flash drive or printing copies to take with us, many times can be eliminated.
And yes, we can access the information from our phone!
And remember: if we have a temporary internet outage, we can still access the files on our computer since the file remains on our computer.
Benefit #2: backup
What if we don’t care about accessing information from different locations? There is still that huge benefit of backup!
- What if our computer crashes? Our files are still online.
- Dropbox will also make getting a new computer much easier: we access the Dropbox website and retrieve our files.
- What if we mess up and make wrong changes to a document and save the file? Answer: we can retrieve our old versions via the Dropbox website!
And remember, it’s just not business files and documents we can safeguard, we can also safeguard pictures.
Examples of Uses
Dropbox has a page that addresses security and it states that they take security seriously. I have used Dropbox for years, and it is one of my main tools. I use it to access information from a variety of computers and I use it to backup documents, but there are times I don’t recommend it. Here’s some of my thoughts:
I use Dropbox to
- Share between computers
- Continuing education documents
- Mileage documentation spreadsheet
- Instruction documents that I share with clients
- P.S. We talked about accessing our info from different computers, but the great thing is that we can also access files on our iPad. Dropbox has an app for the IOS and Android.
- Manage Email
- Customer emails – so I can retrieve them easier yet get them out of my email software
- Plus at times I need to email a document but my email provider won’t let me because they limit the size. So, I put the document in Dropbox and “invite” my colleague/friend to access the file.
- Website images
- Family pictures
- I bought a tool to automatically backup my website; this tool integrates to directly send backups to Dropbox. I don’t have to spend a lot of time backing up my website.
BUT I DON’T use Dropbox for
- Highly senstive information like Tax returns that have social security numbers
- Confidential information like legal letters or private documents
Talk with your accountant if you want to store information online. There are other services available that accountants use when dealing with more confidential information.
Summary and a few extra tips
- Install Dropbox on a computer and a special Dropbox folder is created
- Install Dropbox on a second computer where we routinely want to share information
- Make sure to login to our account
- Once we install Dropbox on our computer, we will see a Dropbox icon. For Win 10, the icon is at the bottom right.
- If we click on that Dropbox icon, a pop-up will appear. We will then be able to click to go the Dropbox folder on our computer or to the website.
- Also, clicking on the Dropbox icon will show additional info: syncing status, how much space we’ve used, etc.
- The files that will be synced are the ones in the Dropbox folder.
- Once a file is saved, syncing starts immediately
- We can copy and paste files from another folder on our hard drive to the Dropbox folder – just like we normally copy and paste files.
The Dropbox Website give us additional capabilities.
- We will usually access files from our own computer, but we can retrieve files by logging in to the Dropbox website from any computer.
- We can share a file — but we can also share an entire folder via the website.
- The good news: it’s easy to share a file or folder AND it’s easy to remove the sharing later.
We can Leave
The great thing is that we are not totally dependent on Dropbox. If we choose to leave, we still have our data on our computer.