Have You Heard Of Dropbox?
I’ve been hearing a lot lately about an application called Dropbox. It has been receiving a lot of hype this week and Twitter has been gushing about how great it is. This evening I decided to check it out and see what all the fuss was about. WOW. I’m going to try to finish this post without rambling too much about how blown away I am by this company and the product. The Dropbox application is a pretty straightforward concept. Basically, it’s cloud storage for your files and data with a really slick syncing mechanism for computers and mobile devices. You could install Dropbox on your personal machine, work machine, and iPhone and use it to keep a handful of files synced at all times. It’s simple and easy to understand, yet extremely useful!
As you might imagine, I download and use a lot of software in any given week. It’s rare that within the first 5 minutes of using a new product, I’m compelled to write about it. It’s not the functionality of Dropbox that amazes me. After all, I’ve been using Mozy, a similar technology, for a few months now as an online backup solution. What really amazes me about the Dropbox team is their attention to detail. They seem to make sure that every little thing is perfect. That’s not something you see too often these days, especially with startups. Many are in such a hurry to get their product out and start making money that they aren’t always thorough enough with the software. From the Dropbox website, to the client installers for Mac and Linux, to the creative marketing and documentation, this is by far the best “total package” product I’ve seen in months.
I want to highlight a few areas of the Dropbox product that truly WOWed me. My first experience was installing Dropbox on my Linux machine. I am running Ubuntu 9.04 and was happy to see that Dropbox provided support for many versions of Ubuntu and Fedora (the two most popular “consumer” distributions of Linux). The installer downloaded quickly and it was BEAUTIFUL!! It was easily the best-looking application I’ve ever installed on Linux. The installer allowed me to create an account right there. It asked me what type of account I would like and quickly got everything up and running flawlessly. I appreciated the option to change the default location of the Dropbox folder. The installer showed a perfect mix of design and convenience while still managing to provide enough options for advanced users. I later installed the Mac version of Dropbox and found the experience to be equally impressive. This shows me that the developers took the time to ensure that the user experience was consistent across the different platforms. +1
Once I got Dropbox installed, it created a folder in my home directory which contained a few sample files. There was a Public folder, Photos folder, and some other sample documents. Next, I decided to check out the web interface for my files stored in the cloud. Sure enough, the same files were showing up on the web. I saw some features I expected and others that I didn’t. There is an extremely useful “Recent Events” tab. This is like the Facebook News Feed but for updates relating to your Dropbox files. Awesome! They also have a feature which allows you to share your files with certain people. This is a nice alternative to sending large attachments via email. The website is designed extremely well and is very easy to navigate. Sometimes working with file-browser applications in the web browser can be a bit clunky, but Dropbox has it down to a science. +2
After exploring the website a little bit more, I noticed that they have some cool incentives to earn extra space. Each free account comes with 2GB of storage space and they offer an additional 250MB if you become a Dropbox “guru” by completing a small list of tasks. The tasks range from watching a quick tutorial, to inviting some friends, to setting up Dropbox on multiple machines. Talk about creativity! They also offer extra space for referrals. You can earn 250MB per referral and up to 3GB of extra storage total! I decided to go ahead and try to achieve “guru” status and started to flip through the tutorial. The design team is at it again with AWESOME little comics explaining some of the main topics. These comics seriously had me laughing out loud. These guys really know how to make software FUN. +3
Finally, the pricing seems extremely reasonable. Again, Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage space (with the option of earning up to 3GB more via referrals). They have 20, 50, and 100GB plans which are priced $6.99, $9.99, and $19.99 per month, respectively. If you ask me, these are very reasonable prices for this type of service. They make it really easy to upgrade your plan once you start to run out of space. So, I highly recommend signing up for Dropbox and taking advantage of that 2GB of space. It’s well worth it!
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