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Technology should make our lives easier
• Excellent file synchronization capibilities
• Allows access to deleted files
• File-sharing support
• Easy to install & setup
• Limited customer support
• File organization system is somewhat confusing
Dropbox is a simple and convenient method of backing up, synchronizing and accessing your data across all devices. The simple user interface and easy to use features make Dropbox a good choice for backing up data online.
Dropbox is a simple online backup service that allows users to bring together all their data including photos, pictures and videos in one place. The service provides a range of features to keep your data protected. We took a close look at what makes Dropbox such an efficient service.
Sign up for an account with Dropbox to begin the initial setup process. The installation is quick and straight forward. User’s have the option of downloading the desktop client or logging in online to backup their data. Once Dropbox is installed it will prompt the user to customize the settings and perform an initial backup. The user can then sync files through using either the Dropbox web application or desktop manager by simply dragging and dropping items into the main Dropbox folder. The first backup usually takes a few days, depending on the amount of data and the connection speed. Once the backup is complete, Dropbox will continue to run in the background and automatically update changes made to any files.
There are many options provided by Dropbox to back up your data. You can choose to schedule automatic updates or manually update your data. You can configure the settings so that your data is only updated at a particular time and day of the week. If you choose automatic updates, the program uses a type of backup process known as ‘Block level incremental backups’. The Block level incremental process automatically archives files every time a change is made. Only the part of the file that is altered is updated so that duplicate files are not created.
If you decide to manually update data, you can add files to the Dropbox folder and click ‘backup with Dropbox’. Data can be backed up directly to an external device or to the storage space available online. We encountered no problems with the backup process, but it is important to note that you only get one Dropbox folder that syncs up to your account. And, you can only have one Dropbox account associated with each computer - this makes it slightly difficult to share files and folders. Also, the file organization system can take a while to get used to as the way in which files are organized can be confusing and renamed files are often treated as new files, which can make it hard to find saved files.
Users have access to information regarding the status of back up processes and options relating to email notifications. We found that the automatic update process doesn’t interfere with your internet connection as it only uploads when no other processes are running. Data is kept for up to 30 days and can be accessed through both the web app and desktop manager.
The process of restoring files is relatively straight forward. Restoring data can be done either through the web based app or the Dropbox manager. User’s have the option of selecting which files and folder to restore, a restore all data function is also available. Dropbox keeps snapshots of every change made to a file for up to 30 days, with the option of a paid add-on which offers an unlimited time in which you can access snapshots of old data. All your files and folders can be accessed and restored to any device of your choosing.
Security is a key aspect of any cloud service as users need assurance that their data will be protected. Dropbox uses SSL encryption to protect file transfers and encrypts uploaded files with 256 AES encryption. Files and folders are completely private and password protected - unless they are made public, in which case anyone can view them. Dropbox uses security methods similar to that of banks and all user data is not visible to Dropbox employees.
Dropbox also uses Amazon’s A3 service for storage which further enhances the security of your data. As such, dropbox provides a more than adequate level of security to keep user data protected and safely backed up.
One of the main features of Dropbox is that you can access your data on any device, including: computers, tablets, phones and the Dropbox website. Files can be viewed and uploaded on the go via the Dropbox phone app for Android and iOS devices. Files can easily be shared with selected people. Shared folders enable users to work together on projects and see what changes are being made to documents.
The downside of Dropbox is that the monthly plans are not very flexible and the free 2GB of storage is quite small. Monthly Plans go up in increments of 50GB, which is not practical for people looking to utilize the service for personal use. Dropbox would benefit from a 20GB or 25GB plan as that would fit most people’s needs.
Ease of use
Dropbox lives up to its tagline - ‘Simplify your life’, as it has a simple yet elegant graphic user interface design that has easy to use features. From downloading the application to backing up your data, we could not fault the simple user experience provided by Dropbox. The interface is uncluttered and easy to navigate. Uploading files and folders is as simple as dropping them into the Dropbox and it will automatically sync the files to all your devices. Although, we did find a few bugs in the file organization system that still need to be ironed out.
The ease of use provided by Dropbox is one of the things that we really liked about Dropbox; it really is as simple as installing the client and dropping files into the Dropbox folder. Inexperienced users will really appreciate the easy to use Dropbox features and will find it simple to backup their data.
Help & support
Customer support options are somewhat limited. The only way to contact the support team is through email, which is often a slow process. In saying that, the support staff is fairly efficient in responding and solving problems relatively quickly. While there is a forum for users to post and read about issues other users are facing, the lack of options for technical support is a letdown. The service would benefit from another form of technical support such as live chat or phone support.
Dropbox is based around a simplistic approach to backing up data in the cloud. It provides a user friendly interface that new comers will surely appreciate. The high level of protection for your data, easy to navigate user interface and a simple backup process make Dropbox a solid online backup service.
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