1. How to Use Dropbox – From Novice to Pro in a Few Minutes
One of the greatest inventions after the internet is cloud storage.
With the way everything is going digital and the way it has become easy to create and share multimedia files, many people are finding their local (PC or laptop) storage fast becoming inadequate.
And that’s where cloud storage services come to the rescue.
Not only does cloud storage help you expand your storage (freeing up your local storage for more important things), but it also makes it extremely easy to share and collaborate on files. This is especially essential for remote teams or family and friends who have a great geographical divide between them.
One of the best (and the oldest) cloud storage services is Dropbox.
If you’ve never heard of Dropbox (which planet are you from?) or never used it before, you’re in luck as my mission today is to show you how to use Dropbox. And don’t worry, no technical terms or jargon involved.
But before I show you how to use Dropbox, let me take you on a brief walk down memory lane. It will help you understand and appreciate Dropbox more.
2. A Brief History of the Iconic Dropbox
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Dropbox, ranked as one of the best startups in the world, didn’t actually start its life as a business. It started as a solution to one man’s problem, a man called Drew Houston.
Drew, at that time a student at MIT, had one big problem that kept frustrating him – he kept forgetting to carry his USB flash drive. At that time, there were some services that operated on a cloud-like basis, but Drew found them hard to use and inefficient.
And so he decided to do something about it by creating his own solution. That solution was Dropbox, and soon he realized it would benefit many other people like him. That was way back in the stone ages of 2007. Today, more than a decade later, Dropbox is still one of the best cloud storage solutions in the world.
The good thing with Dropbox is that it’s like wine – it becomes better with age. And that is why you need to know how to use Dropbox. It’s here to stay, unlike other services that have fallen on the wayside. But take heart, mastering Dropbox is as easy as eating pie.
How to Use Dropbox – Getting Started
Dropbox has 3 tiers it offers users, starting with a free plan that gives you 2GB of storage. The paid plans include Dropbox Pro which starts at $9.99 a month or $99.00/year and Dropbox Business which costs $12.50/month.
The Pro plan comes with 1TB storage, priority support (helps with file recovery), and advanced file sharing capabilities that include the ability to control when a link you share should expire.
The Business plan comes with unlimited storage, useful administrator tools, a suite of collaboration tools, and much more in addition to document management. Other features include link passwords, 120-day versioning (meaning you can restore to a previous version of a file if you need to), Smart Sync and chat support.
Getting started with any of these tiers is simple. All you have to do is head over to the Dropbox website and sign up for an account with a valid email address. If you have a Google account, you can easily use that to register for your Dropbox account.
Once you have registered your account, you can then download the desktop version of Dropbox onto your computer from the Dropbox website. This will allow you to save, retrieve, and share files easily. But more on that in a moment.
The Dropbox folder will then appear on your desktop.
Dropbox 101 – Storing, Retrieving, Sharing Files and Much More
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One of the best features of Dropbox is that it is user-friendly – even for technophobes. This is what makes it one of the best file hosting solutions available.
So how easy is it to use Dropbox?
It’s as easy as “drag and drop”. That’s why it’s called Dropbox after all.
But since I’m here to show you exactly how to use Dropbox, let’s take it one step at a time.
How to Use Dropbox – File Storage
Like I said, using Dropbox is super easy.
If you are using it on your desktop, there are 2 ways of backing up your files to Dropbox.
Drag and drop. The first and easiest method of saving your files to Dropbox is by simply dragging the file toward your Dropbox folder. As simple as that your files will be stored.
Upload method. The second way to store your files onto your Dropbox account is by opening the Dropbox app and clicking the large blue button in the upper right corner. You will easily see it because it’s written “Upload File”. Once you click on it, it will take you to a page where you select the file you want to upload from your computer. This is the method you will use when using Dropbox from a mobile device.
Once you have stored your files, you can access them from any device as long as you have an internet connection. However, the device you use to save your files can still grant you access to those files even without an internet connection. And every time you make a change to a file, it will automatically be updated across your devices.
How to Use Dropbox – File Retrieval and Sharing
Once your files a hosted on Dropbox, retrieving them and sharing them with friends or colleagues is a cinch. All you have to do is open your Dropbox folder and select the file you want to work on.
And if you want to share the file, you simply right click on the file and select the “copy Dropbox link” option on the drop-down menu. You can then paste and copy the link onto the communication platform of your choice, be it email, WhatsApp, or any other medium.
The other way of sharing your file(s) is by clicking on the share button if you are using the online option. After that, you can either copy and paste the link or simply enter the email address you want to send the file to. Anyone with the link to your file can then access the file, whether they have a Dropbox account or not.
The best part about Dropbox is that it allows collaboration on files. To do this, go to the Dropbox homepage and click on the “Share Folder” tab located in the top right corner. Dropbox will then ask you to either create a new folder or share one that you already have saved.
After naming your new folder or selecting an existing one, you will then be prompted to enter the email(s) of those you want to collaborate with. The folder will then be saved under the “Shared Folders” category. Everyone with access to the folder can then download, comment, and alter the file.
How to Use Dropbox to Request Files
File request is another very handy feature that you need to know as you learn how to use Dropbox. The request file feature is a bit like the file sharing one but in reverse.
With file request, instead of sending files to those you want to collaborate with, you invite people to send their files to you. This is very useful if you want to collect files such as assignments, feedback from employees, and many other confidential files. The files you request can only be accessed by you and are saved in different folders.
So how do you use Dropbox to collect files?
Like everything Dropbox, it’s simple. All you have to do is click on the “Request Files” tab and Dropbox will ask you to name your request and also designate where the files will go. Once done, you will be given a link that you will send to everyone whom you want to receive files from. They will receive a message telling them you want to receive files from them. The request will also have 2 tabs asking if they want to choose the files from their computer or from their Dropbox account.
File request works whether they have a Dropbox account or not.
Deleted Your Files by Mistake? How to Use Dropbox to Recover Your Files
If you are like most people, you’ve probably wrongly deleted a file at one point in time. Dropbox can prevent loss of wrongly deleted data as long as it was saved on and deleted from the platform.
If you are using the free version of Dropbox, the deleted file will be kept on Dropbox’s servers for 30 days, after which it will be permanently deleted. If you are using the paid versions, the file will be kept for 120 days. Within that period, you can retrieve the file.
So how do you use Dropbox to recover your files?
Simply click on the “Deleted Files” tab on the left side of the screen. All the files you have deleted in the past 30 (or 120) days will appear. Click on the file you wish to restore. A window will appear asking if you want to permanently delete the file or restore it. Click on restore and the file will be back in your Dropbox.
How to Use Dropbox – It’s as Easy as Pie
I’m sure you’re wondering why you haven’t been using Dropbox all along seeing as it’s such an easy to use and user-friendly application. Well, it’s never too late to start anything in life, so you might as well sign up for a Dropbox account now and start.