Tuesday, January 29, 2013
We've updated this popular post for 2013 with all of the newest hacks we've seen for Dropbox :)
Dropbox is an application for Windows, Mac & Linux that allows you to seamlessly & securely backup, store or share files between multiple locations.
Typical uses include sharing important files between home PC's & laptops or having a secure online backup of all your important stuff.
Dropbox is free to use for up to 2GB of storage, the premium version ($199.99 per year) upgrades your storage to 100GB. You can also get up to 4.5GB of extra space if you test you the new experimental build of Dropbox for Photos.
In this post we'll look past the basic features of Dropbox & delve into some of the more advanced ninja type things it can be used for.
Take your Dropbox everywhere with DropboxPortableAHK. Simply install it to a USB stick then you'll be able to use your Dropbox anywhere by just plugging it into a machine (i.e. Internet Cafe, Friends House & Work).
Some Bittorrent clients (uTorrent on PC & Transmission on Mac) allow automatic starting of .torrent files that have been added to a specific folder. Essentially this means you can make that folder a folder on your Dropbox (see below), in my case it's D:\My Dropbox\Torrents
Provided that you leave your home computer on with your Torrent client running you can save torrent files to that folder (My Dropbox/Torrents) from any location (i.e. work) & the download will be waiting for you when you get home.
Most people use their Documents folder to store important information, yet many fail to make regular backups. Dropbox makes that very simple for you if you decide to use your Dropbox as your Documents folder.
In Windows Vista or 7 this is extremely easy to setup. Right click on your My Documents folder then select the Location tab, click on move & select your Dropbox folder. When you hit ok it'll ask if you want to move all your files & folders to the new location also, click yes & you're done.
Dropbox will now keep your My Documents folder in sync when you add & remove files. The beauty of this is that if you also have other PC's or a laptop in the house you can use the same Dropbox configuration & share the My Documents folder across all of them.
If you're an avid KeePass user you might find it frustrating to keep your Database on a USB key. KeePass is an extremely secure password safe with AES 256 bit encryption, that means that even if someone did get a hold of your database file the changes of them getting access is extremely slim.
You can use Dropbox to store your password safe and the key file (this file provides extra security). This means that you'll have the same passwords on all the computers you have your Dropbox on.
Dropbox has just released a new feature that allows you to upload all of your mobile phone photos to your personal Dropbox (via Wifi). This means you'll never lose those important memories again.
/Applications/Phoshare.app/Contents/*MacOS/Phoshare* -e . -d -k -u --size 1920 --iphoto "~/Pictures/iPhoto Library" --export "~/Dropbox/iPhoto Backup"
The command above (provided the folders match yours) will give you an output similar to this:
If you have more than one Dropbox account (i.e. one for home & one for work) then it's clear that you want to keep the files separate. Dropbox currently doesn't allow you to run both instances on one user account. However, It's possible to get OSX to run multiple Dropbox instances, there's a cool app called DropboxEncore that allows you to have two separate instances running.
You can also do the same on Windows, using this guide.
Airdropper is a 3rd party program that sync with Dropbox via the API, it allows users to send files directly to your Dropbox via a public URL. Great for competitions, musicians or for client projects.
Whilst something line Xmarks (formerly foxmarks) can keep your passwords & bookmarks in sync there's a few things it doesn't - Extensions.
You can sync your entire Firefox profile across multiple machines & keep everything entirely in sync no matter where you are.
Unless you're using IMAP using POP email across multiple computers can be frustrating, especially since you have to redownload all your emails twice.
You can follow these instructions to move the existing location of your Thunderbird profile to a shiny new location on your Dropbox.
Maildrop is an awesome addon for Dropbox that allows you to send email attachments to your Dropbox folder for instant storage & backup.
If you use Digsby, Pidgin or Adium you can centralise your Instant Messaging logs in one place using your Dropbox.
This only works for games that create a save file in the My Games folder on XP, Vista or Windows7. Essentially you need to create a symbolic link from the My Games folder to the folder on your Dropbox.
The following commands are examples, please replace with the paths to your "My Games" locally & on your Dropbox.
junction "C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\My Documents\My Dropbox\My Games" "C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\My Documents\My Games" mklink /D "C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\My Documents\My Dropbox\My Games" "C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\My Documents\My Games"
junction "C:\Users\UserName\Documents\My Dropbox\My Games" "C:\Users\UserName\Documents\My Games" mklink /D "C:\Users\UserName\Documents\My Dropbox\My Games" "C:\Users\UserName\Documents\My Games"
There's also a neat application to help you with this called Dropboxifier which streamlines the process of adding folders to Dropbox then creating the much needed symbolic links.
One of the major benefits of Dropbox is that it acts like a local drive (but sync when something changes). This makes it perfect for companies that utilise a lot of remote employees, essentially you can create a shared drive that could contain:
The advantage that Dropbox provides here is that you have complete change / undo history (for 30 days on free accounts). This means it's impossible also for someone to accidentally delete a file or screw things up.
You can use Dropbox to save articles to PDF for later reading, anywhere.
If you're a developer who likes to write applications locally & also on your laptop you can use Dropbox to sync your svn repository. Simply create the svn repository on the dropbox & use the local url i.e: file:///C:/path/to/dropbox/folder/myrepo
I wouldn't use this setup to collaborate with another user as the repository could get corrupted if you make commits on two computers & one syncs before the other.
If you need help on setting up a local repository you can check out this awesome Lifehacker tutorial.
If you're building a website design in flat html & want to show off your mockups to a client without upload to a server you can simply create a folder in your DropBox then get the public URL for your site (i.e. for index.html).
Share this URL with your friends or clients & start getting feedback right away. The good thing is that this updates every time you make a change & save so no more worrying you uploading the latest changes via FTP.
DropPages provides a useful service to help you host static websites via Dropbox. Simply edits the files on your computer then they'll sync automatically. Setup is really simple, you just need to share the folder to DropPages & they'll take care of the rest.
Dropbox recently created a nice iPhone interface for the web application, allowing you to easily log in & view the files in your Dropbox.
The beauty of this is that you can open PDF's & other text files on your iPhone then leave them live in a Safari tab to read whenever you like.
You can also browse other documents that you might need on the go, for example Airline or travel itineraries.
One thing that always annoyed me was having different music on my PC vs my Macbook. Fortunately you can use Dropbox to sync your iTunes library across both computers to enjoy the same songs wherever you are.
If you planning to do this you'll more than likely need to upgrade to 50GB of space or more ($9.99/month).
All you need to do is:
Ever reformatted your PC & realised that you've deleted all your snazzy desktop wallpapers? Simply store them all on your dropbox.
This is probably one of the sneakiest DropBox tricks that we came across during our research. You can use your DropBox to catch potential laptop thieves or security breaches.
You can set up a Keylogger on your system to run in the background & save all the logs to your DropBox. If anyone ever steals your laptop or uses it without you knowing & connects to the internet then you'll have a complete breakdown of everything they've been doing (including all the services they may have logged into).
If you want a more robust solution than using Dropbox we highly recommend Prey.