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Dropbox mention · April 16, 2019

The 8 Best Note Taking Apps for iPad and iPhone in 2019

What do you do when you have a spark of creativity or an idea you can't afford to forget? Most of us reach for the nearest device—often the smartphone in our pocket or the tablet on our coffee table. But there's a lot more to a note...read more
Dropbox mention · March 19, 2019

How to Use Dropbox

Dropbox is designed to be an invisible app. It gives you a folder on your computer that automatically backs up and syncs your files across all your devices—and also keeps them in the cloud so you can access them from any computer, anywhere in the world. You can use...read more
Dropbox mention · February 28, 2019

The 12 Best Android To Do List Apps For 2019

You never know when you're going to come up with an idea or remember something you need to do later. So it's really important that whatever to do list you use works well on your phone, the device you most likely have near you at all times. But...read more
Dropbox mention · February 12, 2019

How to Save Google Docs to Dropbox

Google Drive and Dropbox are both great places to store files, but sometimes you're going to want to move a file that's in Google Docs over to Dropbox. Here's how to do that, both manually for an individual file or automatically for every file in a folder...read more
Dropbox mention · February 11, 2019

How to Create a Dropbox Link and Share Any File

Want to share a Dropbox file quickly? You need a Dropbox link. These links, which you can share using email or any messaging app, give anyone read-only access to your file. Even better: these links work even if your recipient doesn’t have a Dropbox account. Here's how to...read more
Dropbox mention · January 30, 2019

How to Automatically Upload to Dropbox

You probably know the Dropbox desktop app can automatically sync any file you add, but did you know Dropbox can also automatically grab photos from your phone, tablet, or camera? Here's how to do that, and how to automatically upload Gmail attachments, Instagram photos, and files from 1,000...read more
Dropbox mention · January 29, 2019

How to Use Selective Sync in Dropbox

Dropbox, by default, syncs everything in your Dropbox to all of your computers. There are reasons you might not want that: You could have limited bandwidth, for example, or limited hard drive space. Here's how to choose which Dropbox files sync to your computer and which do not. First...read more
Dropbox mention · January 22, 2019

How to Customize Your Dropbox Notifications

Dropbox is great but the notifications can be a bit much sometimes. Here's how to manage which notifications you see on your computer, your mobile device, and your email inbox. Let's get this all under control together. Customize Dropbox Notifications on Your Computer Find the Dropbox icon in...read more
Dropbox mention · November 13, 2018

Cloud Storage Showdown: Dropbox vs. Google Drive

Between your personal laptop, your work computer, your phone, and any other device you might use, keeping your files in order can be a doozy. Cloud storage software offers a convenient way to access all your files from anywhere—and be sure they're all up to date. Among the...read more
Matthew Guay
Written by Matthew GuayLast updated May 2, 2018

In 2007, MIT student Drew Houston got tired of forgetting his flash drive, and decided to make sure he never left his files behind again. Thus began Dropbox, one of the original and most popular online file storage tools.

It’s file storage reduced to its simplest. Instead of picking what you’d like to sync, Dropbox adds a single Dropbox folder to your computer. Drag any file to that folder, and it’s automatically synced with all of your devices and the Dropbox web app. You can then open the file on your phone or grab your friend’s computer, go to Dropbox.com, and still get your file. It’s a far better flash drive.

That's old news today, with built-in file sync services with most devices. Dropbox has managed to still keep things simpler than the competition while adding unique handy features.

Perhaps the best use-case is sharing files and folders with friends and colleagues. Share a folder inside your Dropbox, then anyone can add files and they'll magically stay synced for everyone. With the new Dropbox Paper app, you can also use Dropbox to collaborate on your ideas. It's an online writing app where everyone can write together in real time, add comments and replies for feedback, and collaborate without having to make sure everyone has the same version of Word.

Or, if you use Dropbox to sync your design files and creations, the new Dropbox Showcase tool is a handy extra. It lets you build a custom landing page for your files to share samples of your work and write details about them. You can even lets others add feedback to your files from that page.

Dropbox came at the perfect time. Just as computing went mobile, and we were more likely to work on the go than sit behind a PC, Dropbox was there to make sure our files were ready wherever we were. You’ll find Dropbox integration in many web and mobile apps, such as the writing app Draft, where you can open files from Dropbox and edit them, then save new files back to Dropbox so you can open them in other apps. And, of course, you can automatically save pictures, email attachments, and more to Dropbox using Zapier. Or you could just keep using traditional software like Word and Photoshop, and Dropbox will happily keep those files synced.

It’ll also keep them backed up. While we wouldn’t recommend using Dropbox as your only backup, it does give you an extra bit of safety by keeping all your files on each of your computers, plus in the cloud. If your computers die, your files are only a few clicks away in Dropbox’s web app—or better yet, already synced to one of your other devices.

But then there are the times that you accidentally delete a file, or perhaps change an important document only to realize later that you removed crucial information. That’s where Dropbox comes in really handy. It stores previous versions of your files for up to 30 days with a free plan—or up to 120 days with a paid plan. Just go to the Dropbox web app, find the file or folder where the file existed, open its menu, then select View File History to get back an older version of a file. Or, click Show Deleted Files in a folder, and seconds later you’ll have your file back.

There’s then the times you might want to get rid of your files—Dropbox is there for you then, too. If your computer falls into the wrong hands, you can remotely wipe your files with a Dropbox Pro subscription. You can also add passwords to your shared files, or make shares read-only, to keep your data safe. Or, with a Teams subscription, you can keep all your team’s files synced, and keep track of files with central admin and file auditing.

Running out of space on your computer? You can use the Dropbox Selective Sync option to only download the files and folders in Dropbox that you want. The rest are kept online where you can download them individually anytime you want. Or, with a Professional or higher plan, you get Smart Sync that will show all of your files on your computer but only download the ones you need to use and saving the rest of the space automatically.

It's far from the only way to sync files, but Dropbox is still one of the best ways to keep all of your files wherever you need them.

Originally published August 29, 2014; updated May 2, 2018 with new features and screenshots.

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