Sharing Files Across Multiple Devices Part 1: Dropbox

I use several different applications for storing and accessing files across the different devices I use: Mac and Windows computers, iPhone, iPod Touch, sometimes Linux, occasionally Android, formerly Blackberry. Today I want to tell you about Dropbox:

 Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, documents, and videos anywhere. This means that any file you save to your Dropbox on any device will automatically synchronize to ALL of your devices where you have installed it: computers, smartphones, iPod Touch, and also to your account on their website. In addition you can designate certain folders or files to share with other people by giving them a link address. If you lose or crash your computer the files will still be in on their site to restore.

Here are some ways I use Dropbox:


– I keep my current Sibelius music scores in it, so that I can work on them either on my home Mac or my office PC (both have the Sibelius software installed).

– I also keep PDF copies of finished music scores in it, so that I can email them to band members when necessary, even if I’m on my iPhone.

– I keep my 1Password database on it, so that I always have access to my latest passwords when I run the app on the Mac or the PC.

– I save PDF tickets to shows in a folder so I know where they are when the date comes up months later.

– If I’m someplace without my computer but need to print a file (e.g., some music or a ticket) and there is any network-connected computer available (e.g., a library or a friend’s house) I can access Dropbox via the Web and get my files.

So what does it cost? Dropbox is free for storing up to 2 GB of data. You can also increase your free space up to 18 GB by referring friends to sign up (you each get an additional 500 MB – all of the links here are for my affiliate code, so using it gets you an extra 500 MB to start), and occasionally by specific special offers (e.g., if you are a student, or they roll out a new feature and you try it).

If you want more space than they provide for free you can also pay for additional space, starting at $9.99/month or $99/year for 100 GB.

I’ve used Dropbox for over 5 years and have been very happy with it.


2 thoughts on “Sharing Files Across Multiple Devices Part 1: Dropbox

  1. Will Dropbox automatically link all my documents, photos, programs, etc together if it is installed on all my devices; iphone, ipad, PC? This would be heaven!

    • Yes, mostly – it will NOT work for actual programs. So, for instance, you can store Microsoft Word documents in Dropbox, but you need to be running an app on the PC/Mac where you installed Dropbox that is able to open a Word document.

      The way it works for files and photos is:

      • On your PC or Mac when you install Dropbox it creates a folder named “dropbox” which is linked to your Dropbox account. Anything you put into the folder is synchronized to their server on the web (as long as your PC/Mac is connected to the internet). The files also exist physically on your computer, so if you are NOT connected to the web they are all still available to you locally (but won’t be the most recent copy if you’ve made changes since that computer last synchronized).
      • On your iPhone/iPad, the Dropbox app will query their web storage and display all the files in your account. They do NOT all live on your iDevice constantly, though, in order not to use up the more limited storage space on them. But as long as you are connected to the Net you can select any of them to temporarily download and view. You can also select specific files to exist locally if you want (e.g., some document you might want to reference when not on the Net). You can also turn on a setting to have Dropbox automatically upload all the photos you take with your iDevice.
      • If you are somewhere without your iDevice or own computer, but there IS a computer (e.g., the library) you can also log onto the Dropbox site via a web browser to access your files.

      So for example:

      1. Last night I started working on some new lyrics at home. I saved the file in my MacBook’s Dropbox.
      2. During lunch today at work I went to the Dropbox on my work PC, opened that lyrics document and did some more work on it.
      3. When I go to band practice tonight if I want to show the lyrics to my bandmates I can open it on my iPhone.

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