Want to Increase Your Dropbox Security?

There’s always a weakest link: your email. If someone gains access, you’ll likely face serious damage. Your Dropbox account is number two — especially if you have private files synced with your account — so we’re glad to hear that two-step authentication is available as an optional extra security feature. As of now, you can enable this feature with the new Security tab of your account. Just like Google’s popular version of the security feature, you can receive the codes both via text message and the authenticator app that uses a Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) protocol.

Want to Increase Your Dropbox Security?For a while now, Google has offered a way to secure your account with the help of a nice little app called Google Authenticator. It has since been adopted by a couple of third-party services like the password reminder helper LastPass. This two-step verification uses your Dropbox account in conjunction with an Android or iOS app. You can choose from one of three TOTP apps. Google Authenticator is the obvious choice if you have a Google account with two-step verification already set up. Further instructions on enabling this feature can be found here.

It’s a bit concerning about the backup options should you lose your phone. Dropbox provides only one 16-digit emergency access code, but otherwise the feature works quite well without any of those irritating application-specific passwords, either. It also added a way for you to see all active logins to your account on the Security tab, and is working on automated mechanisms to identify suspicious activity.

In any case, added security is always good. if you have a smartphone, you’re advised to use this new feature.

New TOS

On a related subject, Dropbox added this paragraph to its TOS:

“By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent we think it necessary for the Service.”

You can, at all times, choose from many good alternatives if you want to take your files elsewhere, though as Klint Finley at ReadWriteWeb points out, most services of the type include similar clauses in the ToS. So it’s really your choice, but as with anything on the Internet, the same rule applies. If you want to be secure and be sure that no one can ever steal your digital possessions, then you’ll always have to accept some compromises.

Images by Dropbox

Dropbox for Extended Families

Dropbox For The DivorcedRarely does a program come along that is so simple yet so powerful that it changes the way that you use your computer. Dropbox is such an application.

You probably have heard of Dropbox and have read about its many, many, many uses. It’s a fantastic automatic sync utility that keeps a copy of whatever you put in the Dropbox on the Internet cloud. You can then log into your account on any number of machines — OS X, Windows, and Linux are all supported — and have access to those files, pictures, documents, etc.

I’m not going to give you some magical tip that hasn’t been covered somewhere else, but I have found a great use of the service and wanted to share it.

My wife and I each have a child from our respective previous marriages. The ex-spouses both live within 10 minutes of our house, so the kids spend a great deal of time at each of their homes. Now, ours is a tech-savvy Mac OS X house while the others are reluctant computer owners with Windows PCs.

Being the tech guy of the bunch, I’m charged with keeping the data accessible and usable. We use a small collection of tools to accomplish this task, and I’ve made it my goal to find free or open source apps to keep happy those that want to spend as little as possible on technology. Dropbox fits the bill perfectly.

When the kids write papers for school, want to share pictures or short movies, or brag about a high score on Plants vs. Zombies, they just dump the DOC, JPG, MOV, or screenshot in the local Dropbox folder. The next time they go to the other houses, they open that local Dropbox folder and the data is magically there.

Dropbox also has a Web interface to the accounts, so they can get to the files without installing an app of any kind. This makes it great to access all of that same information at a friend’s house, the library, or even at school. The syncing isn’t automatic this way, of course, but you can easily download the desired file or use the Web browser’s ability to view certain data like pictures, audio and movie files, and PDFs. There’s even an iPhone app to get to these things.

As ours kids’ needs grow, so undoubtedly will their uses of Dropbox. For example, I use my account to store my MacJournal and 1Password data files so that they are automatically synced over the three Macs I use. Also, when I want to share sensitive information — maybe a QuickBooks file with my accountant — I can place that file in a private section of Dropbox and send the link.

The basic Dropbox account is free and allows up to 2 GB of storage. 2 GB may not sound like a lot when you’re talking about online backup services, but we’ve found it more than sufficient for syncing data between homes. If you do find the space to be cramped, you can buy more space, or you can earn 250 MB for every account that you refer.

Sure, there are other services out there that may accomplish the same goal, but Dropbox is drop-dead simple. The kids I’ve been talking about are eight and nine years old, and they have no problems using their accounts. Dropbox and similar tools really have changed the way we use our computers… for the better.

Hey! So, there’s this guy, a real friendly type, who knows a bunch about computers. He grew up infatuated with them and did everything he could to use them more and more. Eventually, after working on PCs for several years, he started his own computer store and repair place in his hometown in Iowa. It’s been open since 1998 and the guy has been teaching at the community college and writing for a few websites, including Obsessable, The Unofficial Apple Weblog, and TechVi. You should meet him; his name is Kevin Harter.

Dropbox Finally Hits 1.0

After a long time in beta form, Dropbox finally hits 1.0 for their development. This big announcement comes along with many new features that will help users a long the way.

Dropbox is a useful and popular service that has been running great for quite a long time now, and the “beta” tag has always seemed off because with the recent version of Dropbox has been very stable. Finally though, Dropbox has dropped the beta tag and made some substantial improvements.

The biggest substantial improvement is selective syncing, which allows the user to select which computers sync with which folders. This of course allows you to not to sync, lets say, a HD video on a crappy wi-fi connection. This amazing new feature really makes Dropbox a much more versatile tool with syncing and managing your files.

There have also been some tweaking with metadata syncing, which allows business environment type users to use metadata from file to file. Furthermore, there has also been some light tweaking to the desktop manager giving it a lighter footprint on your desktop, by using less RAM and resources.

For some reason though they’ve named this release, Rainbow Shell. We haven’t the slightest clue why but it is very unique and seems to be related somewhat to a side-quest from SNES RPG Chrono Trigger.

Be sure to download the new version to take hold of these cool new features in Dropbox 1.0. Note: The new version should cleanly install over the old one just fine.

Guiding Your Way Through The Cloud

So, you want to start moving your life to the “cloud?” Looking for a cheap or even free way to do so? With cloud computing and online storage becoming more and more popular, many companies are starting to put their hands into this highly profitable honey-pot. One thing that you need to keep in mind: You get what you pay for. You are not going to find a free unlimited storage plan online that does not have its limitations. I will be going over several online storage options and list the ups and downs of each. By the time you are done reading, hopefully you will have found an option suitable for you.

What is Cloud Storage?

Before I go into the different options, it is important to understand what cloud storage is. In the past, we have been used to storing all of our music, photo, documents, etc. on our computers HDD, a flash drive, external HDDs, CD/DVDs and even card media (SD/Memory Stick/CompactFlash/etc.). With access to the Internet getting more and more common (with hotspots, cell phones, and expanded broadband coverage), we are relying more on online services. Cloud storage is just that: a huge ass cloud. No, Zeus is not standing up in the heavens with gigantic file cabinets storing away your files. But we have big name companies buying massive amounts of HD space for this very reason. Instead of having to carry around an HDD or a keychain full of flash drives, all you need is a PC and an Internet connection. Plus, cloud storage can be, most of the time, more reliable. I am sure a lot of these online storage providers and not just putting all your info on some cheap HDD without making at least one or more back ups.

Cloud Storage and You

First, you need to lay out what you will need in a cloud storage service. Here are some common options/limitations you need to think about:

  1. Space: This is probably the most important on of all. What’s the point on online storage if you don’t have enough space?
  2. File Size Limitation: Most of the free options of online storage have a file size limitation. Meaning, each file you upload cannot be bigger than XXMB/GB. This is mainly so people do not go get free accounts and use them to host huge files (Movies, ISOs, Games) and suck up bandwidth.
  3. Access Options: To some, this is almost as important as how much space they have. Do you require access to your files on your mobile phone? Do you want to use a desktop client, or a Web-based one? Do you want to be able to give your friends/co-workers access to these files as well?
  4. Price: Free is good, but it is not always the best option. Remember: You get what you pay for. There are several free online storage providers, but you may run into a few issues with them, including file size limitation.
  5. Reliability: Will the company that you are using collapse tomorrow? This is a very important factor. You don’t want to store important files on a storage provider’s server and have them close down tomorrow; you’ll lose access to what you really need.

Your Options

Now we are going to look into your options. The ones I list here are just a few. I am sure there are hundreds of online storage providers out there, and it would be almost impossible to list them all. If you know of one that I did not list, post it in the comments so other readers can try it out!

Dropbox: Dropbox hit the Internet around 2007. This company is one of the most popular online storage options. The cool thing about Dropbox is, if you get a free account, you start out with 2 GB. As you refer people, you get more space. I have not found another provider that does this (free or paid). Here are some specs:

  1. Space: From 2 GB all the way to 100 GB
  2. File Size Limitation: A rare feature for a free plan: If you are using the desktop client, there is no file size limit. If you are using the Web-based uploader, you have a 300 MB limit. It does not matter if you have the 2 GB plan or the 100 GB plan.
  3. Access Options: Dropbox has several access options. Of course you have the Web-based version. It also has apps for: Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and more. No matter what OS/device you have, Dropbox has some type of access option for you. The desktop client adds a folder to your OS and it acts just like any other folder on your computer. You can drag and drop, delete, or create like normal. As you modify the files in the folder, your online account is updated in real-time.
  4. Price: 2 GB: Free (This is expandable as you refer more people); 50 GB: $9.99 a month or $99.00 a year; 100 GB: $19.99 a month or $199 for one year.
  5. Reliability: I have been using Dropbox for about a year now and have never had an issue — every company usually has issues (Hell, look at RIM). Dropbox has a very informative yet minimalist status page that gives you the current up/down status of the Dropbox client/Web services.

If you want to give cloud computing a try for the first time, I would HIGHLY recommend Dropbox. With several access options and awesome reliability it would be a good service to test out and see if cloud storage is right for you.

Site: http://dropbox.com

Windows Live SkyDrive: Started by Microsoft (yes, the same people who brought you the awesomeness we call Vista) in 2008, SkyDrive is a good option for users who want to integrate their online storage with cloud computing. One of the unique features of SkyDrive is the ability to edit/create Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote files online without having to install any kind of client. Take a look at the features.

  1. Space: 25 GB
  2. File Size Limitation: There is always a catch, especially when you have 25 GB of free storage. You have a limitation of 50 MB per file. (I don’t think I have any MP3s bigger then 50 MB, but I am not encoding them at the highest bitrate).
  3. Access Options: Currently, there is not an official desktop client for SkyDrive. Any uploading/downloading needs to be done using the Web-based tool. But don’t fret, as there is an alternative. Gladient is a Windows application that you can use to upload/download/alter your SkyDrive on your desktop. Basically, this application will create a virtual HDD that you can access on your computer. Unfortunately, this is only for Windows. Sorry, OS X/Linux users.
  4. Price: Free! That’s easy.
  5. Reliability: Personally, I do not use SkyDrive so I cannot account 100% for its reliability. But, from browsing the net and looking around, I have not found anyone complaining about constant downtime/slow speeds. Like always, though, 100% uptime is almost impossible.

If you do not want to pay for a cloud service and don’t mind using a Web-based tool (non-Windows users) SkyDrive would be good for you. It can be hoped, Microsoft releases an official client that expands farther then just PCs. Who can complain about 25 GB of free storage?

Site: http://explore.live.com/windows-live-skydrive

Box: I just recently discovered this company when I was browsing different apps to download on my Droid X. The Web site is clean and very simple. The company even provides storage options to large corporations!

  1. Space: 2 GB to 500 GB
  2. File Size Limitation: With the free (2 GB Plan), you have a 25 MB limit. For the 25 GB plan, you have a 1 GB limit. For the 500 GB plan, you have a 2 GB limit.
  3. Access Options: Everything is completely Web-based, but it is one of the easiest services I have used. When uploading, you can select as many files as you want to upload, all in one windows (CTRL, SHIFT or command selecting files). Also, with the premium plans, you have integrated access to Google Docs, EchoSign, eFax, and more.
  4. Price: 2 GB: Free, 25 GB: $9.99 a month, 500 GB: $15/user/month
  5. Reliability: I have been using it for about a month and have not had an issue and I could not find anything on the Internet about constant downtime/slow speeds.

This company is an excellent option for users and/or companies who need large amounts of space, simplistic design, and high reliability. With plans ranging from 2 GB to 500 GB, it has something for everyone.

Site: http://box.net

Now I know I only gave you three options, but, like I said before, there are several online. Just do a little bit of Googling and you will find more. I am not saying that these companies will fulfill your every requirement for an online storage provider — it’s just a start. I highly recommend you detail out what you need out of a host before you go hunting. If you do not, you will be flooded by features that you may not need and companies that could restrict what you are really after. Happy hunting!

Chris Kader is a 22-year-old fellow from Arkansas. He’s in the Army and he loves tech. Check out his YouTube channel here.

Dropbox v0.8.11 Experimental

Dropbox is a useful freeware tool that will enable you to instantly store your files online and share them either between your own computers or with friends, coworkers and family. It can also synchronize the files from your offline directories and online storage.

[12.3M] [Win95/98/Me/2k/XP/Vista/7] [FREE]

Virtual Gnomedex ’09

If you have no plans for the weekend, join us at Gnomedex virtually. We’ll be live streaming!

We’re using Dropbox now. [Sync files online and across computers – 2GB account is free!]

Wow! These are some attractive tacos!

Could this really be the most highly disagreed-with blog post on Lockergnome?

How much connectivity do students need? [Between a crapton and infinity?]

What does your computer desk look like?

Job hunting and wondering if those tweets you made during your tequila binge in Cancun might come back to haunt you?

Sony introduces PS3 Slim and discounted PS3 consoles [I think it’s time to get a PS3]!

Looks like tobacco may have its chance to do something good for people for a change.

Do you want to have a pillow fight?

Roger Ebert seeks to find his own voice through technology. [Two thumbs up! Way up.]

CFO of number one manufacturer of PCs doesn’t expect Windows 7 debut to be a major factor influencing new PC purchases.

What do you tell people who just don’t “get” Twitter?

Would a government option for health care kill off the private health insurance industry?

Wikipedia has an iPhone app now [by the community, for the community]!

Where do you buy college textbooks?

Cool! There’s a new Muppet!

Dropbox: Online Storage, And Much More

Gnomie Lars Blockken writes:

Hey, Chris!

Dropbox is basically an online storage/sync service, but it goes far beyond that. It works on OS X, Windows, and even Linux. You just download the client, and it makes a extra folder called Dropbox.

Everything you put in this folder gets synced online and all your other computers that have Dropbox and have the same account get synced, too. A really cool thing is that if you add a new folder under photos it makes a photo album for you online to share with your friends. If you want the link for it just right click on the folder, go to the Dropbox menu, and click “Copy public link.”

You want to share a non-picture file? Just drag it in the public folder, right click on it, and choose “Copy public link.”

It really works great. With the free account you get 2 GB, but there’s a referral program where you can get up to 3 GB extra — so that makes 5 GB. Best of all, you get 250 GB for every friend or person that joins and installs Dropbox!

Dropbox

I own several computers, and I can tell you right now that all of them don’t have the same files. Different things are on different hard drives, so I sometimes have to switch between computers to get what I want. Additionally, I do have some backups on physical media, but certainly nothing automatic and online. This data chaos is only hurting me, and it’s about time that I started using something like Dropbox so that I can be sure that my files are synced and safe.

The software is available for Windows, OS X, and Linux, but no matter which operating system(s) you use, the online component transcends the desktop software component. Dropbox isn’t complicated to use and doesn’t get in your way. Files are automatically synced and can be accessed online at any time even if you’re not on one of your computers. Files and photos can also be easily shared with others, which makes Dropbox a useful Web hosting solution in some ways. The first 2GB of storage are free, but you’ll have to pay to get more space.

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