Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dropbox Free App for Any Device

Dropbox free app
Free app for your iOS devices via iTunes, Android device via Android Market, Kindle from Amazon App store, Nook from Barnes & Noble, and your computer or mobile device (including Windows, Mac, Linux and Blackberry) from dropbox.com.

What it is: Dropbox is cloud storage. That means your files sit on a server accessible to you from your computer, phone and other devices via the Dropbox software or the web (you can just as easily view and manage your Dropbox files using a web browser by going to www.dropbox.com and signing in). Anyone who signs up gets free 2GB of space, and it's expandable up to 18GB via referrals (500MB per referral). If you create an account using a referral (for example, using this link which would be a referral from me: Get Dropbox) you get an extra 500MB free, as does the referring party. You can also have a paid account, starting with 50GB for $10/month (& a lot more per referral). I think most users find the free account sufficient (you can have more than one account if you need, but you can only link one account at a time to a device or computer; you can access as many accounts as you want if you're using a web browser). Your files are password protected and safe. You can also share specific files or folders with other Dropbox users, or make them public to share on the web (or via, say, Facebook).

Why would you need cloud storage? Here are my main uses for it:
1. Backing up files
2. Archiving files
3. Sharing files
4. Accessing files

I use it to backup up files quickly (in case something happens to my computer), archive files off my phone (e.g., photos if want to remove them from the phone but don't want to delete them and haven't had a chance to copy them to my PC yet), share files with others, and most importantly, make some of my files accessible to myself at any time from anywhere.

One of the beautiful things about Dropbox is its amazing integration into a variety of applications for Android and Apple devices. There are a ton of 3rd party applications that include export to or save to Dropbox options.

There's also a ton of 3rd party programs that integrate with Dropbox and let you CREATE, EDIT, export as PDFs, and EMAIL your Dropbox files. It's like having a portable hard drive that you can access from anywhere without having to actually port it.

How is it relevant to ST? While this app is not involved in any direct Tx, it is where I keep a backup of all my materials; if I do need to print a worksheet, I can access these files from any web browser and print to an attached computer. I don't have to plug in a flash drive or configure printing from my device. As long as there is a computer attached to a printer, and it has a web browser, I can log in to my Dropbox account, print any file, and log out.

In a previous post I described how I carry all my materials using a Nook Tablet, and that I have a copy of all these materials on Dropbox (here's a link to that post: Device: Nook Tablet). It's one of the fastest ways to get my documents into a device like Nook, iPad or a smartphone. Between the device I carry that is loaded with the PDFs I use in treatment, and nearly universal access to my materials via Dropbox, I have ALL of my resources at my fingertips.

Examples: There's not really specific examples of how I use this in Tx because this is about access to all my materials. But here are some examples of where I've benefited from having all my materials on Dropbox:

1. In one of my facilities, the only way to print is via the tech's laptop, and she's the only one with access to it. So when I need something I access Dropbox via my iPhone app, find the files I need and email them to the tech. This creates minimum interruption in the tech's work flow to get my materials printed.

2. I like to have all my materials on my Nook. I had made an updated document for a cogn eval I was using, and saved it to the folder where I keep these resources on my PC--a Dropbox folder. I forgot to hook my tablet up to the PC to transfer the file, and needed it at work the following day. Logged into dropbox in a room that has wifi, and copied to my local files on the Nook. Ready to use in pt's rooms (where there's no access to wifi).

3. I needed some materials printed, and the only computer attached to printer at one of my facilities is really old, slow, and its USB port is broken. But it has a browser, so I logged into Dropbox using the browser, and printed my files. Even if I could have used my flashdrive (which I also carry everywhere; I'm a bit OCD) it would have taken longer. But as such, I don't really need my flashdrive or have to worry about keeping its files synched.

4. I have a folder on Dropbox I share with other SLPs, and we use it as a convenient way to share resources with each other.

Well, you get the picture. No matter what device you use if any, if you have files on Dropbox, you can always access them from any computer or device with internet connection.

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