What Is Dropbox?

By James T. Cains

Dropbox is one of several popular cloud storage services that enable you to store and share your files online “in the cloud.” What does that mean? It means that you can store and back up your files online for easy access from anywhere — your home computer, your work computer, or your mobile device. Your files are stored on Dropbox’s servers and can be synchronized, or automatically kept up-to-date, on all of your devices. The basic Dropbox service is free, but you can upgrade for a fee to get more storage space and additional features.

Keep in mind that Dropbox stores your files on its own servers. Even though only you have access to them through your account, you need to be cautious about what you store online. Cloud services have been hacked in the past, and though Dropbox has a good reputation for security, there is always the possibility that your files may end up in the wrong hands. Whatever you do, don’t share your account credentials with others!

The main thing Dropbox enables you to do is store your files easily online. But here are some other things you can do with Dropbox:

  • Edit your documents from anywhere: You can start a document at work, work on it on your mobile device on the way home, and finish it at home. Also, users of the Dropbox mobile app for iOS or Android can edit their documents on their mobile device using Microsoft Office mobile applications and have their changes automatically saved and synchronized to all their devices.

  • Share documents from anywhere: You can share one of your folders on Dropbox so that others can access it. You can also send e-mail links to others to download your files — with your permission, of course!

  • Back up important files: You can back up your documents in case your work or home computer goes up in flames.

  • Collaborate with others: If you need one central place for friends or colleagues to submit documents, you can set up a Dropbox folder into which they can upload their files. Everyone using the folder also has access to all the other documents in it. And if users are on their mobile devices, they can edit documents using Microsoft Office applications.

When you sign up for a free Dropbox account, you get 2GB of storage space, which is probably fine for most users. If you need more storage space, though, you have to pay for it. Dropbox Pro costs about $10 per month and gives you 1TB (yes, that’s 1,000GB!) of storage space, plus a few additional features. Dropbox for Business costs $15 per month and gives you unlimited storage space and even more features. However, Dropbox for Business is geared toward business teams, and you have to buy at least five licenses (one per user), which is $60 per month.