Update: Sign up for a new account with Dropbox using any link from this page and get an extra 250 MB of space for free. Normally you only get 2 GB of space, but if you use our referral link, you’ll get an extra 250 MB of space and so will we.
Another teacher at our school recently introduced us to Dropbox and it’s pretty darn cool.
Dropbox is basically a quick and easy way of keeping your files in the cloud. You install the dropbox app on your work computer, your home computer, and even your iPhone and Dropbox will keep all of your files automatically synced.
They have a cute video explaining the basics on their website: https://www.dropbox.com/
Why would teachers want to use dropbox?
- Access your files on the school server from home. Sure, you may be able to log into your school account through an Internet website, but unless you have a virtual private network (VPN), you probably have to log into your account, download the files that you need, work on the word document or PowerPoint at home, and then upload the files through a web browser or copy your files onto a USB key and bring it to school the next day. With Dropbox, it creates a special folder on your computer that is automatically synced to the cloud. This means that you can open Microsoft Word, and see all of your school files in your Dropbox folder – whether you’re at school, at home, or on your phone.
- You can keep your folders private, share folders and files with friends and colleagues, or you can make your folder public. This might be useful if you want to share photos with other teachers in your school division. It also means that you don’t have to connect your phone to your computer or worry about transferring photos on a USB drive – Dropbox syncs everything for you.
- Dropbox automatically backs up your files online. In our school board, if you save your school work on the network drive, your work gets automatically backed up by the IT department. However, if you save your work on your physical computer drive, then you have to backup your files yourself. Saving your schoolwork in your Dropbox folder means that your work automatically get synced and backed up into the cloud. The free account comes with 30 days of undo history. (Premium accounts allow unlimited undo.)
- Dropbox apparently uses “military grade” encryption methods to both transfer (SSL) and store (AES – 256) your data.
I thought Google Docs was the bomb. Is Dropbox cooler than Google docs?
Yes and no.
- Yes. When you upload files to Google Docs, you have to use your Internet browser. You can’t work on Google Docs files off-line. You can’t see Google Docs files in My Computer, My Documents, or in a folder on your computer. If you upload photos or PDFs to Google Docs, you can only access the files through your Internet browser. The cool thing about Dropbox, is that it creates a special folder on your computer that is automatically synced to the cloud. This means you can open a file in Microsoft Word or a photo in Photoshop without having to download your file from the cloud first.
- No. One of the best features about Google Docs is how well it handles online collaboration. You can have several students, teachers, or people editing the same Google Docs and Google will automatically sync the changes in real time. (You can see changes that other people make on the screen.) On the other hand, if you share a Dropbox folder with several people, if two people are working on the same document at the same time, Dropbox simply saves different versions of the same file. In other words, dropbox will lock a file when someone is editing, and if a different person tries to make changes to the same file, Dropbox will save a new version of the file. This is a good thing because you won’t lose any of the changes that either person makes, but Dropbox doesn’t handle online collaboration the same way as Google Docs does. If you’re the only person using Dropbox, then this won’t be a problem for you.
How much does Dropbox cost?
The free version of Dropbox (basic account) comes with 2 GB of space. If you spread the word and a friend signs up using your referral link, you both get a bonus of 250 MB (up to a limit of 8 GB.) This is probably enough space for the average teacher. If you want more, then you’ll have to pay for it:
- A 50 GB account costs $9.99 per month or $99 per year.
- A 100 GB account cost $19.99 per month or $199 per year
You can download the free Dropbox program here.
This post was written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium Wireless.