Dropbox is one of the top cloud storage providers available. Many users are drawn to the app because of the easy interface and seamless integration into the Windows infrastructure. A simple drag-and-drop and any file can be instantly transferred to any computer anywhere in the world. But Dropbox is so much more than just a simple file-sharing device. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at some of the top Dropbox tips and tricks we could find.
Access favorite text documents and images offline
If you want the ability to access certain files offline, you can “star” or “Favorite” these files using the Dropbox app, and they will be accessible to you from your mobile device, even when no internet is present.
How to use Dropbox as your default “My Documents” folder
This is a simple process that allows users to create their default “My Documents” folder in Dropbox. This also works for other Windows default folders. Simply right-click on the folder that you wish to change, let’s say it’s the “My Documents” folder. Click on “Properties.” Now click on “Move” and type in the location of a Dropbox folder that you want to use as the “My Documents” folder. Pretty simple huh?
If you use a Mac, open Terminal and type without quotes “cd Dropbox” and hit enter. Now type in “ln -s ~/Documents/Documents” and hit enter again.
Get free storage
Dropbox offers 2 GB of storage free to all users that sign up. However, users can gain additional storage by performing simple tasks such as posting to Facebook, tweeting, inviting their friends and more. Free users can gain up to 18 GB while Pro users can gain up to 32 GB of free storage.
Sync Firefox settings on all computers
When you use Firefox on multiple computers and devices, it can be quite a pain to keep all your bookmarks, preferences and settings the same. However, users can download Firefox Portable and store it in a Dropbox folder. Firefox Portable can be used anywhere, so all of your settings, add-ons, etc. will be synced to all devices.
Sync Firefox settings on all computers
By using this simple app, URL Droplet, users can copy links and paste them into the app, which then uploads it directly to Dropbox.
Automatically download torrents remotely
For those times when you’re working remote or away from the computer, you can still set up a system so that torrents can be automatically downloaded. All you have to do is create a Dropbox folder and name it something you will remember. Then go to your torrent client settings and check the setting that allows the client to perform checks on specific folders. Set this to the folder in Dropbox. Then, when you are working remotely and want to download a torrent, just drop the torrent into the Dropbox folder from your computer or mobile device and since your home computer will be monitoring the folder, it will see when the torrent appears in the folder and the client will automatically start downloading the file. When you get home, the file will be waiting for you.
Multiple Dropbox accounts
Dropbox does not currently offer the ability to run multiple instances on the same computer. So if you want to have multiple Dropbox accounts on the same computer, it can be accomplished but it’s not as simple as it should be. So here are some instructions for Windows and Mac users.
- Windows: use the program DropBoxen, which works by automatically launching multiple instances of Dropbox.exe as different Windows users so Dropbox will store the shared files in each unique Windows user directory.
- Mac: you can use an alternative home directory in the command line and create a second Dropbox icon and folder which is saved in a different area on your computer. You can change the color of one of the icons to be able to tell the two apart.
Back up your website with Dropbox
Ehost your website from Dropbox
This Dropbox tip makes it easy to host a website without paying for a domain. Create a website using your favorite HTML program or you can take advantage of the simple web designing services of pancake.io or DropPages. If you use pancake.io, you can just save the web pages as text files in Dropbox, where they can be easily edited. If you use DropPages, you get more features such as the ability to add themes and custom URLs. Both of these services allow users to create pages using HTML or markdown.
If you have a large amount of music, you will probably need the pro Dropbox plan for this tip. Simply move all your music files into a Dropbox folder and point iTunes toward that location by holding down the Shift key while you launch iTunes (Alt/Option key on a Mac). Set this up on multiple computers and Dropbox will keep them all synced.
Restore previous versions and deleted files
If you accidentally delete important files, you can easily restore them for up to 30 days after deletion. To restore a file, go to the Dropbox web site and click on “Dhow deleted files.” Right-click on the files you wish to restore and click “Restore.” If you are worried that you may need to restore for a period of more than 30 days, you can sign up for the Packrat feature which allows unlimited restoration.
Upload camera photos and videos automatically
The Dropbox mobile app (and PC client) settings have a feature that allows users to automatically upload camera photos and videos and stores them securely on Dropbox.
*If you have large files and are worried about using too much of your data limit, check the Dropbox mobile app settings to configure it to work on Wi-Fi and avoid using any mobile data.
Two-step verification for additional security
Two-step verification is an essential feature for anyone who believes in security. By using two-step verification, even if a hacker gains unauthorized access to your login credentials, he will also have to have access to your mobile device in order to access the account. This simple step only adds a few seconds to your login process and can add years of security depending on what you have stored on Dropbox that could potentially be deleted. Just click on “Settings” and go to the “Security” tab to activate two-step verification. Once it’s activated, every time you (or someone else) attempt to login to Dropbox, a code will be instantly sent to your mobile device. This code must be entered before access to the Dropbox account is granted.
Share huge files
One of Dropbox’s best features is that there is no file size limit when sending files through the app or desktop client (300 MB per file if you go through the Dropbox website). This makes it much more efficient than email or other file-sharing tools as all of the others have file size limits. This makes it simple to share files with anyone, even if they don’t have Dropbox as you can simply upload a huge file, get the link to the file and send it to the recipient. They can use the link to download the file. Very simple. You can also get previews of some file types such as PDF files, images and certain types of videos.
Back up photos from social media
With If This Then That, users can specify certain actions for the program to perform such as back up if you upload a new photo to Facebook, Instagram or Flickr. Or if someone tags you in a photo, it can also be saved to Dropbox. This makes the process simply and automatic and helps protect your photos in case you ever lose access to any of your accounts.
This allows users to sync only the files they want to sync. So if you need to share some files in a folder with an employee, but you don’t want him to access the other files, you can specify which files are synced. If you want to sync some files from one computer to another, but don’t want to sync all your large video files (perhaps you don’t have enough space on your laptop?), then you can sync only the files you wish to have synced. Just click on “Preferences,” click on “Advanced” and you will find the settings for selective sync.
Want to make all of your computers exactly the same? You can move your home folders to Dropbox, then set the location to all of your computers by right-clicking on the folder and changing the folder path to the Dropbox folder. Now you will have the exact same Desktop, My Documents folder, Downloads, etc. on all of your computers.
*Tip: Turn on two-step authentication and add Dropbox Packrat to create the ultimate synced and secure system.
Dropbox is much more than a backup for files, but it can provide backup for your Android smartphone as well. Simply download the DropSpace app and you can back up your entire phone’s contents to Dropbox. If your phone becomes lost, stolen or corrupted, you can easily restore your files, contacts and everything else you had on your phone.
Streaming music from the cloud
This one is very simple- just drag-and-drop music files into a Dropbox folder and they will appear on every device in which you have Dropbox installed. You can also upload music tracks using the Dropbox website. Then you can access the music on your computer, laptop, mobile phone or tablet for easy accessibility any time.
Send to Dropbox
By using Send to Dropbox you can automatically have your email attachments sent to Dropbox. This allows you to automatically create a backup of all attachments in case you ever lose access to your email account or if you accidentally delete an email that had an important attachment- maybe a photo, document or any other type of file.
Create a backup of your WordPress blog
By using a WordPress plugin called WordPress Backup to Dropbox, you can create a complete backup of your WordPress blog on Dropbox. You install the plugin on your computer and it creates the backup to the cloud. You can choose how often backups are to be performed and which folders to include in the backup.
Encrypt your Dropbox files
Dropbox has excellent security features, among those is encryption for files that are being transferred or stored on Dropbox servers. However, because Dropbox controls the encryption, some users would rather provide their own encryption so that they have more control over the security of their files. There are numerous third-party encryption programs and apps that can be used to provide additional security for your files and here are a couple of the best.
- BoxCryptor provides encryption for files that are stored in various cloud services, unlike many encryption services that are aimed at specific cloud services. BoxCryptor allows users to encrypt up to 5 GB of data for free. If users need more space than that, users can upgrade to a paid premium plan that allows an unlimited amount of files to be encrypted.
- SafeMonk is a Dropbox-specific encryption program that allows users to encrypt their files before they ever leave the computer. Powerful encryption ensures that you maintain control over the security of your files during transit and storage. It keeps your files encrypted on all platforms so you can access your encrypted files on your computer, laptop, mobile device and tablet.
How to sync XAMPP/MAMP directories for developers
Web developers typically use multiple platforms and work with apps such as XAMPP and MAMP, but the manual replication from one system to another can be time-consuming. You can set up automatic syncing by changing the default root directory locations of XAMPP and MAMP to a Dropbox location. While you work on the files in one system, the changes will be replicated to other systems for much easier accessibility and flexibility.
Prevent computer theft
If your computer or laptop is ever stolen, you can use Dropbox to help catch the criminals and recover your property. First, you need to install a keylogger that also takes screenshots, then set the default location to a Dropbox folder. So every key that is typed is logged and stored on a file in Dropbox. Screenshots are also taken at random or specific intervals, you can set the frequency in the settings. If it’s a laptop or computer that has a webcam, you can set up an application that takes photos directly from the webcam at random or specific intervals. This can also be directed towards a Dropbox folder so that you can even get photos of whoever is using the computer. Using this data, you may be able to identify the criminals and recover your computer or laptop.
How to sync OneNote to Dropbox
OneNote is a popular note-taking program from Microsoft. Dropbox helps users sync and collaborate on files. Simply create a new notebook in OneNote and set the folder location to a Dropbox folder. You can change the folder sharing settings so that it is shared with multiple users. This way you have simple accessibility between multiple computers, even if the app is open on more than one computer at a time. This allows other users to simultaneously collaborate with you over files.
Back up application settings and passwords
You can back up all your application files such as .msi and .dmg files in DropBox so that if your computer gets lost, stolen or corrupted, or if you need to reformat, you will have a complete backup of all your settings for easy re-installation. You can use an encryption program such as TrueCrypt to encrypt your application serial numbers and authentication files and you will have a secure vault for your sensitive and confidential files.
Home and office security
Home security cameras can be set up around your home and office and set to take photos using motion detection or at specific intervals. By having these images stored in a Dropbox folder, you will have access to the images instantly as they are created and from any device on which that you have Dropbox installed. You can use an application that uses your cameras to detect motion and begins snapping photos. On most of these apps, you can have your phone notified that your cameras have detected motion and you can instantly go to Dropbox and view the photos as they appear and you can take action based on the contents on the images.
Send email attachments to Dropbox
If you use a friend’s computer or device, or are at school or a public library, you may not have access to Dropbox. Well, there is a simple Dropbox tip that allows users to send emails, and all attachments will be instantly be saved to Dropbox. Simply sign up at sendtodropbox.com and you will be given a customized email address. Any time you send emails to that address, all attachments are instantly saved to an “attachments” folder in Dropbox.
An easier method for Gmail users is to use cloudHQ. The cloudHQ service integrates with Gmail and sends your emails to a folder in Dropbox. Attachments get saved in a separate folder so you will always have a complete backup of all your emails and attachments in case you accidentally delete important files or if you lose access to your email account. CloudHQ keeps your current file structure and separates your emails into the same organizational structure you have on Gmail.
How to sync cloud services to Dropbox
This Dropbox tip involves synchronization and integration between cloud services. Synchronization is one of the most useful features between apps. However, because of competition, many apps do not implement a sync feature for their app to be linked to other (competitor’s) cloud apps. So your choices are limited- you can manually transfer files, which can be extremely time-consuming, or you can turn to a third-party synchronization and integration app such as cloudHQ.
CloudHQ is unique because it offers synchronization between numerous cloud services automatically and in real-time. You can have all your Evernote files synced to Dropbox, you can have all your Google Drive documents synced to Dropbox, you can have all your Basecamp files synced to Dropbox or you can have them all synced to Dropbox so that you have one big easily accessible and easily searchable database with all your files in one centralized location. Currently cloudHQ can sync and integrate cloud services including Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Gmail, SkyDrive, Box, and coming soon- Salesforce.
People that use multiple cloud apps can sync them all to Dropbox to create one big office. Documents can be created in Google Drive, Evernote and Basecamp, then synced to Dropbox. Using signing apps such as DocuSign, documents can even be legally signed.
Many Windows 8 users find themselves practically forced into using SkyDrive as it’s integrated with the entire infrastructure. Not a problem, users can simply create a SkyDrive to Dropbox sync.
How to create a cloud backup to Dropbox
Cloud services are basically pretty secure, but when an incident does happen, it can be bad. Many companies store confidential and sensitive data in the cloud- contracts, financial records, customer and client data, and other legal or important documents. To create a secure cloud backup, cloudHQ is once again the solution. But here are a few reasons why companies use cloudHQ for cloud backup.
- Human error – accidental file or folder deletion
- Malicious deletion – company cloud account gets hacked
- Server corruption – files get corrupted
- Loss of account access – wrongfully accused of violating cloud provider’s ToS or other reason
- Employee revenge – revenge deletion for termination or disciplinary action
Now on to how cloudHQ provides the solution. The cloudHQ service works by replicating data from one cloud account to another. So if you have important files stored on cloud services such as Box, Google Drive, etc, you can create a secure backup by using cloudHQ to back up data to Dropbox. CloudHQ syncs the data automatically and in real-time. So any new files that are added to the main company account will instantly be replicated to the backup account. Any revisions to existing files in the main company account will instantly be replicated to the backup account. Restoration of files is simple and can be completed in a matter of minutes to ensure minimal business disruption and downtime if an incident was to occur.
- Computer Security: Snap a Picture of Whoever Logs on Your Laptop (groovypost.com)
- 6 Things You Didn’t Know you Can Do with Dropbox (educatorstechnology.com)
- How to Issue a Command to Your Computer With a Text Message (makeuseof.com)
- Here’s Why Dropbox Has Been Opening Your Private Documents (businessinsider.com)
- Dropbox takes a peek at files (pcworld.com)
- Do You Dropbox? A Look at Cloud Storage (digitalsurgeons.com)
- 3 Productivity Apps That Will Increase Your Output (businessbee.com)
- Windows 8.1 Work Folders: the free self-hosted Dropbox for enterprise built into Windows (istartedsomething.com)
- SparkleShare: An Open Source Dropbox Alternative (unixmen.com)
- Dropbox Plus adds a tree of folders to Dropbox’s sidebar (ghacks.net)