Last Updated: October 26, 2015 24

The Basics of using DropBox

Found In: Tools

What is Dropbox?

Dropbox is a free program that lets you backup all your files onto an online server, also known as “The Cloud”. Once you set up a Dropbox account and upload some files onto it, you can then access those files from almost any modern day internet connected device over either the website, or the application.

What Exactly Can I Access It With?

Dropbox works on Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and more. It is an extremely versatile application that takes all of the worry out of backing up important files. There are other cloud-based storage applications out there, but many are exclusive to a certain platform, such as iCloud, or simply don’t work as well on some devices, like Google Drive.

How Do I Actually Use It?

Although Dropbox generally varies from system to system, there are quite a few basics shared between Mac, Linux and Windows computers. For information specifically tailored to your device, do a google search for “How to use Dropbox with [Your OS]”.

Step One: The very first thing you want to do is navigate your browser to www.dropbox.com and download the Dropbox software for your computer. Simply copy the URL and paste it into your address bar, or just google dropbox.com.

Step Two: After the download is finished you should have a file named Dropbox.dmg in your download folder. Double click on this file. Once you click on it you will need to send Dropbox to your applications folder.

Step Three: Opening Dropbox is the simplest part of this whole process. All you have to do is double click on the Dropbox icon and the program will start.

Step Four: Once you have started Dropbox you will need to create an account. This is quite easy, as all you need to do is follow the instructions that will appear on their own the first time you open the program. The instructions are easy to follow, so most people will not have any trouble at this stage.

Step Five: There are a few things you may change when you have logged into your new account. As an example, if you click the drop down menu button you will be able to change the location of your Dropbox. If you are fine with having it reside in your “Documents” folder, then you do not need to worry about this.

Step Six: The next (and final) step is to upload the files you want to be stored on Dropbox. To upload files all you need to do is drag and drop them into the Dropbox window. Your Dropbox account has 2GB of free storage at the start, and there are ways to get more storage free, but you can also simply buy some more. Anything you upload to your account will be saved automatically to the Dropbox servers where it will be safe and sound.

Tips and Tricks

Tip #1: Get as much free space as you need

When you first sign up for Dropbox you are given a generous 2GB of free space, which is more than enough if you only need a few documents everywhere you go. If you are more of an “I store my entire life’s photos, videos and documents on the cloud” kind of person, you may require a fair bit more than 2GB, though. But have no fear, for Dropbox allows you to obtain potentially massive amounts of free space, depending on how many friends you refer to the service. You get an extra 500MB for each extra friend that signs up with your referral link. Pretty good, right?

Another way you can get more free space is by tweeting about how much you love Dropbox, which is nice because you can also use twitter to get more referrals.

Tip #2: Recover files that have been deleted

If you somehow manage to accidentally delete those embarrassing pictures of your co-worker passed out drunk on the floor, do not worry, because there is a way to get them back! Yes, that’s right, you can continue to use them to blackmail that co-worker who keeps stealing your novelty coffee cups.

All you have to do is log onto the file browser on the web and click the button that says “Show deleted items”. This will show you all the items you have deleted in a slightly transparent grey colour. Right click and select the “Restore” option to bring any document, file or folder back from the afterlife.

Tip #3: Make a file a favourite to allow offline access

This one is extremely simple on mobile. Just tap the favourite button to download it to your storage drive for offline view. Very useful for saving your favourite songs while camping, or viewing photos on a flight.

Tip #4: Share large files and folders easily

Have you ever tried to send a big file through email? If you have, you would know that there are so many challenges and problems to actually get it to work. Using Dropbox makes things so much simpler. You can share absolutely any file or folder in your Dropbox to the public folder of your account using its link.

The way you do this is that you transfer the file to your public folder, then right click it, choose the “Copy Public Link” option. You can then send that public link to anyone that you want to share the file with, or post it somewhere online. All the person has to do is click the link. It’s very simple.

Tip #5: Use Dropbox as a download delivery system for digital sales

If you own a business that sells downloadable content such as images, eBooks, MP3’s or videos, you can use Dropbox as the host for those files. This can be done very easily: simply share the file publicly just like how we described above, and when you make a sale and receive payment, you send the public link to the buyer so they can access it.

This method isn’t perfect, though, especially if you have large amounts of buyers, but it is simple and it works so it should be fine while your business is still small.

There are a lot of other cool things you can do with Dropbox, but the information we have shown you above should be more than enough for now. If you want to learn more, go to www.dropbox.com for all the answers you could possibly need.