My Sweet Setup: Dropbox

I’ve used Dropbox since its beta days in 2008. As soon as I saw that it magically offered the ability for me to have a folder that would be magically in sync on all of my computers, no matter what, I wanted it.

In the early days of Dropbox, the only way you could get more space was by inviting others to use Dropbox as well. I invited a bunch of friends to get gigabytes of synced space, and when they started offering paid plans I quickly hopped on board, getting boosted to a then-expansive 20 gigabytes of cloud storage. That’s laughable compared to the terabytes Dropbox offers now.

And indeed, Dropbox is damn near perfect at that. I save a file in my Dropbox folder, and it quickly syncs up to the cloud and propagates to my Dropbox folder on all other computers. Dropbox has since then built a number of other features around this, but their core file sync working so perfectly is their fortress. I’ve never had Dropbox lose data on me.

Dropbox is core infrastructure for me; it’s like my home folder, but more omnipresent.

It’s also handy that Dropbox integrates with just about everything, so I’m not just limited to file sync. I can use it with IFTTT and a Hazel script on my computer to automatically archive all my liked tweets as they come in. When I scan things, my scanner sends them straight to my Dropbox account right over Wi-Fi. And my beloved Alfred uses Dropbox to sync its settings, making Dropbox one of the first things I install on a Mac.

Dropbox is also just a great default place for me to save files. I have space for them on Dropbox, and by sticking a file in Dropbox, I get backups on multiple computers and an offsite backup, automatically. Not only that, but Dropbox keeps my deleted files indefinitely and will save previous versions of files, handy in case I make a change I didn’t mean to make.

Dropbox isn’t perfect nowadays. As a corporation they seem not content with having loyal, paying customers like me, and I get the sense they are constantly trying to dream up the next big thing that will launch them into a new growth phase. Their newest desktop application less like the creation of someone trying to make something useful, and more like something a product manager dreamed up to juice up engagement numbers for Dropbox, or to find ways for Dropbox to insert itself into things as intermediary.

And some of their newer features just aren’t as good as their core functionality. Smart Sync in particular is just awful and I have it completely disabled on my account (instead I use Selective Sync, which has me explicitly choose which files I want to sync).

The thing I ultimately love about Dropbox is that it nails the fundamentals. Sure, they’ve had their head in other new features, but they’ve kept core functionality working. I keep Dropbox around because unlike Apple, whose attention is spread super thin because they do so much, Dropbox’s file syncing is what pays their bills, and I trust that they are going to keep things working.


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