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May 7, 2011

Dropbox Just Keeps Getting Better!

Readers of Olive Tree Genealogy blog know that my favourite and most-used cloud service is Dropbox. With Dropbox I can store, sync, and, share files online for free.

Here's a brief look at how Dropbox works. I've saved a file to my computer hard drive but I want a backup and I want to be able to work on the story from my iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Laptop or other computers. All I need to do is "drop" my file into my free Dropbox Account. Dropbox automatically syncs the file to all my devices that have the App installed. I can also access the files from any computer simply by going to the Dropbox website. I can also give other family members or contribuotrs access to the file and they can participate in the story writing, or simply enjoy reading it.

With Dropbox I can take a photo from my iPhone camera and immediately send it to Dropbox. But here's the good news! You used to have to add one photo at a time to Dropbox. It was tedious. It meant going into Dropbox app on your phone, selecting the camera icon and then choosing ONE photo from your Camera Roll. When that was done uploading to Dropbox, you selected the camera icon again, back to your Camera Roll, try to remember where you left off and choose one more photo. It was time-consuming and you could only upload 2 photos every minute.

But now Dropbox has the coolest update - the ability to mulitple select photos on your phone's Camera Roll! I tried it out after accepting the update on the App Store. I opened Dropbox on my iPhone and chose the Uploads icon. Then I clicked on the + sign and dropbox immediately went to my iPhone's Camera Roll where I began selecting photos. I added 22 at one time! Each photo I chose popped up a little check mark. When I was done, I clicked on upload.

I was able to put my phone down and do other things while all 22 photos uploaded to my Dropbox account. This is a huge improvement. Now when my husband and I take our cemetery photos we can upload dozens at one shot. I am curious if there is a maximum number for an upload and have not tested that yet. Sometimes we take over 100 photos in a cemetery!

Dropbox gives you 2GB of free storage plus ability to earn extra free space up to 8GB. No size limit on files. Sync files automatically. Available as an App for iPhone, iPad and other mobile devices. Able to access files from any computer (Mac, Windows, Linux) or mobile device. Sign up for your free Dropbox Account of 2GB and get an extra 250MB free through this link


Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist said...

I'm so behind the curve. I took one look at Dropbox, and saw Ole Myrtl's post(s), but I need to review one more time.

Judii said...

I can see the significant value of this, but am a bit anxious on one point that you may be able to clear up.

I have a carefully managed architecture on my hard drive (folder structure) to correspond with how my life is organized and the demands of my software.

If I drag my genealogy image files (e.g. census, BMDs) to the Dropbox icon - I effectively am MOVING my files, which means my genealogy software ("gs") links will fail - right?

If so, then I'd need to either edit all my links to the new location or advise my gs the new location of the supporting image files.

This sounds like a lot of work to me. So I'm thinking that it more reasonably would just be used for COPIES of files that I want to share. "Olive Tree", can you comment on your use/recommendation?

I just uploaded a few sample files and they don't seem to update when I modify the originals (crop and save). Perhaps that update/sync feature is only for files that are MOVED?

Becky Jamison said...

Thank you for this info, Lorine! I just got an iPhone last week so I have a lot to learn and you're definitely helping me. I love dropbox, so I'll print out your post and study it.

Robert said...

I understand there is a third part app that allows you to link your files to Dropbox without moving them. This was brought out in a recent Legacy webinar.

Genealogy Blogger said...

Judi - the files that are automatically synched and backed up are those you have in your Dropbox folder on your computer. So if you make changes on a file NOT in your dropbox folder, it won't change in dropbox. As far as I know you would need to copy your files to dropbox if you don't want your existing directory structure to disappear.

But as Robert pointed out in his comment, I believe there is a way around this - using symlinks. I can't comment further on that method as I have not looked into it or used it.

You might want to check this link out