If you’re a writer with a laptop AND a desktop AND a mobile device like iPad, you may find yourself working on the same file on different devices.
You may start an article on one machine, but then decide to work on it from another one. Or your file may be on your machine at home, but you have some unexpected time at the library or some other place that offers computer use and you would like to pick up where you left off on a computer not your own.
Worse case scenario, you realize that in your last revision, you unintentionally deleted a perfect paragraph, or. horrors, the entire file.
Dropbox to the rescue.
Dropbox is a software application that you download to the hard drive of each of your machines. It creates a folder called “Dropbox.” Put your current projects in the Dropbox folder. Work on them from there. Save them there. That’s their home on your computer.
The magic begins when you are not at the computer where the original files are stored.
Say you began your novel or magazine article on your desktop computer, but you are now away from home. You do have your laptop with you, but you forgot to save your newest chapter to a jump drive. No problemo. You open your laptop and go to the Dropbox folder on it. Voila! There’s the file that you saved on your desktop. Make as many additions and revisions as you like. Next time you open it on your desktop, it will be exactly as you left it on your laptop. And if you unintentionally delete a file, you have 30 days to recover it from the Dropbox site.
There are other ways to backup and synchronize files on the net, but none that I know of that are as easy to use as Dropbox.
With Dropbox, you are working on your own desktop, saving to your own hard drive. There are no extra steps involved. You don’t have to connect to the net, or tell your computer to synchronize. The program works automatically. What you put in the folder on Computer A appears in the folder on Computer B.
Another advantage for me is that I don’t end up with numerous versions of the same article or chapter, having to examine them to discover which is the most recent. As you work in Dropbox, the revisions are saved in cyberspace, but the file you are working on is always the Master file.
What if you want to access a file and you don’t have a machine of your own with you? Use any computer to go the the Dropbox site. There you can access your own Dropbox and everything in it.
So how much does something this magical cost?
Not a penny for 2GB of storage.
That may not be very much storage if you want to work with movies, photos, or audio files. For a writer, however, busily churning out double-spaced manuscript pages, 2GB is infinity. Two gigabytes of storage will hold over 4,000 novels the length of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth.
Go ahead. Check it out for yourself at Dropbox.
NOTE: This is a purely spontaneous outpouring of enthusiasm. I have absolutely no connection with the manufacturers of Dropbox.