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Archive for January, 2010

Dropbox. The answer to all my backup woes, and some.

January 29th, 2010 No comments

Dropbox - Files - Secure backup, sync and sharing made easy.

Inspired by my recent VPS nightmare with VAServ and by a write-up of Backupify – your ultimate backup solution for the cloud, I decided to write about a great service that I’ve recently begun using called Dropbox.

There is a whole array of free online storage providers out there and I’ve known this for years. I’ve even tried a couple in the past but none of them either worked very well or had basic features missing rendering them quite useless. My immediate need however was for a service which would run on a Linux terminal, without a GUI. It was in fact on another service’s comparison chart that Dropbox was listed as the only one to provide this. If anyone knows of any others, please share.

I signed up for it and within minutes I had registered my VPS with it and dropped my backup files into its folder within the VPS. Seconds later the backup appeared in the web interface. I just had to put it to further test and so installed the daemon in my laptop’s Fedora Core 12 and then on Windows XP running in a VirtualBox machine within it. Sure enough, everything synced down beautifully and I even got some decent looking notification pop-ups (which can be disabled) of the activity. Removing a file/folder worked surprisingly well too, I deleted a test file on the terminal of the VPS and the other two clients simultaneously deleted the file and displayed their notifications.

There’s quite a growing list of features of which I will just outline the one’s I like, for the full list, be sure to check out the website.

  • Subscribe to an RSS feed of the activity on your files. Useful for monitoring normal activity in your favourite reader rather than logging in to the website to review logs.
  • Ability to share folders with other specific Dropbox users – it feels like having a shared hard disk plugged in for each of your friends.
  • 2GB storage space for Free, expandable to 3GB if you can refer 4 people who will eventually use the service (not just sign up).
  • 50GB storage with the first paid plan at just $9.99/month.
  • 2+ million users and an active blog, twitter and facebook presence from the team behind it.
  • Clients for any OS you can imagine, including the iPhone!
  • Awarded Crunchies Best Internet Application of 2009.
  • A really cool “Votebox” section for logged in members where they can a. Vote on features that they would like to see implemented the most and b. See what the team is currently working on. You get 6 votes per month which you can distribute however you want. I for example, used all 6 of mine on “Selective Sync – Ability to choose which files/folders in my Dropbox get sync’d to which computers or the web.” as I have no need for the non VPS backup related stuff to be synced to the VPS.
  • A “Public Folder”. Upload a file, get a link to it from the web interface and send it anyone regardless if they have an account.
  • A “Pictures Folders” which turns into a somewhat basic but useful Gallery for browsing.

And a word of warning…

Although all communications between your clients and their server are made through SSL and everything they put on the Amazon S3 cloud is encrypted by AES-256, you should *never* put any sensitive data on to these services. I do, but I highly encrypt that data. This service does not limit you to certain filetypes so you can put whatever you want on it.

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