It's the leading cloud-based sync and storage service—but Dropbox isn't perfect. Here's how to make the most of it.
Have you ever sat down at your laptop and thought, "Oh no, my important file is on my desktop computer!" Or looked at your smartphone and said, "Sure would be nice if I could access my critical work files here on the handset, but that's impossible!"
Of course you haven't. Because you aren't an idiot. And you most likely have installed a synchronization and backup service that does all that. If you're like most people, you picked the one with the most buzz: Dropbox.
Major companies like Google and Microsoft are in the same business, but always have their sync/storage offerings tied to other products (Google Docs and Microsoft Office, for example). So in some ways, Dropbox's simplicity—it works with any of your files—makes it all the more attractive. More importantly, it just works. Of course it is not only a program for the desktop (Windows, Mac, and Linux) but is also accessible via the Web and on mobile: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, and Kindle Fire; there are third-party clients for Windows Phone like CloudSix.
So fine, Dropbox is a service lots of people like, but it isn't perfect. Many see its valuation as a sign of a new tech bubble ready to burst. The company revamped its terms of service earlier this year to force arbitration upon any legal problems with customers, a moveConsumerist.com called "taking the coward’s way out of resolving legal disputes," and they're not wrong. Privacy wonks are not happy the company put former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on its board.
Maybe worst of all for consumers: Dropbox is the absolute stingiest among its competition with doling out space for free to customers: it offers only 2GB of online storage, compared to Google Drive's 15GB (shared with Gmail and Google+), Microsoft OneDrive's 15GB, and Box's 10GB. Dropbox gets away with it by pushing users to pimp the service to get more space (as you'll see in the slideshow).
So why use it? Like I said, Dropbox just works. And it does a lot more than just syncing. It's the perfect digital suitcase. It ensures you'll never be without your files wherever you need them, assuming you utilize Dropbox to the fullest. Just how do you do that? These tips spell it out.