Dropbox claims to be a very easy to use system to backup your files, sync them across several computers and share them with friends. I’ve had the pleasure of testing the beta and I can say it does achieve exactly that.
The thing that makes Dropbox so much easier than other systems is that there is no learning curve and no special handling required: just drop your files in a destined folder on your harddrive and the files are automatically uploaded to the Dropbox servers. Hook up another computer to your Dropbox and it’ll automatically download the files and sync them when you change them. The system comes along with a powerful web interface that not only offers access to your files from any web browser, but also lets you retrieve older versions of a file, or accidentally deleted files. Dropbox should feel very familiar to those who use SVN in their workflow, except that you don’t need to manually check-in and check-out files to keep them synced. A helpful feature is that before uploading an updated file, it will compare and check and only upload those bits of the file that were actually changed, saving a lot of bandwidth. Luckily, you aren’t confronted with any of the technicalities, it just “does stuff” and works and you don’t need to care.
Setup was surprisingly quick and painless. My only grief are the sometimes very slow upload rates (30kb/s when it could be much higher), but I suppose this will be improved during the beta phase. Also, I recommend that you don’t create and edit new files within your Dropbox folder, as its automatic upload does not have a delay and will start uploading before you’ve even given the file a name.
All in all I’m quite satisfied with Dropbox and I feel it will be something I’ll use regularly. Its ease of use guarantees that it won’t require your full attention or slowdowns to your workflow, making it one of those little tools you just won’t want to miss.
Check out the Dropbox screencast here and go sign up for a beta if you’re interested.