As we grow to be more technologically advanced, we constantly adopt new gadgets for our daily life usage. Our personal computers, Mac, smart phones, iPad etc! Think about times where we work on our personal computer and have to transfer our files to our thumb-drives or hard disks to access it from the office computer. Or we have to email ourselves our files. All this hassle just to work on the same file on a different gadget – we all want convenience, don’t we?
Imagine a single folder in your computer that you can save your files into and the folder replicates itself on other gadgets you use. You make some changes and they get automatically updated real-time in your other gadgets as well! No more of those different versions of the same file lying in your different gadgets. In fact, this imagination has become reality. (It sounded like magic to me when I first heard about it) And this awesome invention is Dropbox (I refer to it as the Magic box though).
Watch this animated video on how Dropbox functions.
Being able to share your folders with friends by sharing your folder link with them is one great advantage, especially doing school projects and assignments that require you to send multiple copies of the same file in a group. Now we can all update the file real time.
You can backup a huge database of 2GB of photos/files etc online. You get the option of expanding your storage space by paying a premium. I realized how I should have backed up some of my school files in Dropbox before my laptop hard disk crashed and died on me the previous week.
Business use, or not?
On an individual level, I would give thumbs up for Dropbox being an alternative solution to your storage needs, coordination and organization needs for your photos, music, and even files for school. We have seen the advantages (convenience, mobility etc) of Dropbox. So that led me to think if Dropbox could be adopted in a business?
Whether you are a freelancer, a small business starting up, I would believe the great advantage of Dropbox would be to share files with your clients or co-workers quickly and easily. You can share folders with your clients by sharing your dropbox folder with them by introducing them Dropbox or by sharing your public link with them. This reduces the hassle of emailing large files that have the problem of going through emails etc. Your client or co-workers can also provide you on-the-spot edits or comments to your file shared to them. This makes communication on the net so much closer to face-to-face contact/meeting (almost real-time)!
However, while I was searching online for how Dropbox can be integrated into businesses (especially small businesses), several blog posts that highlighted the same issue sprouted. Did Dropbox Mislead Customers Into False Sense of Security? There is a recent controversy about Dropbox’s original claims that the employees of Dropbox would not be able to access the users’ information. However, with the recent change in their terms and conditions, they would decrypt their users’ information and turn them over to the authorities if demanded. This raises concerns for users as they actually thought their information will be stored secured and in secrecy in the ‘cloud’. The truth is the employees can actually access their information even though they are ‘legally prohibited’ by the company rules and regulations.
Any businesses value their information to be kept secured and out-of-reach to any unauthorized personnel. This issue has indeed drawn spotlight to how Dropbox may, afterall, not be such a suitable channel for businesses since privacy is a big limitation here.
I am not jumping to save this Dropbox fall but I feel that Dropbox has merely clarified its terms and conditions since all companies storing user data such as Amazon, Google have to comply with court laws and orders and have similar terms of service. Any company would hand over your data if demanded by the government authorities, won’t they? If consumers like us need some assurance that our information will be safe and secured, there is a lot of free software that can help us achieve that. Secretsync, Truecrypt etc provide us with solutions to encrypt our files before dropping them in Dropbox!
Well, I would encourage people to continue using Dropbox and to adopt Dropbox if you haven’t. Just be cautious not to put user-sensitive information if you don’t feel safe!