Influential Technology (Part 2): Dropbox Cloud Storage

I created this blog with the intent to share my thoughts on the various influential and motivational aspects of life. In addition, I often contribute my thoughts on various issues that inspire me to think introspectively and take decisive action. Technology is an aspect of life that influences me on a daily basis. In the Information Age, technology plays an integral role in our daily lives. While many may suggest that technology has made our lives easier, one could also argue that technology has complicated the way we live. Regardless of your perspective on the usefulness of technology, there are numerous benefits that can be gained from the proper integration and utilization of technology. In this series on influential technology, I will highlight various technology products and services that have influenced me in a positive way. Hopefully this discussion will positively influence how you view technology and inspire you to simplify the increasingly complex nature of life in the Information Age.

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I vividly recall the days when I carried around a box of floppy disks with all of my critical files stored on them.  At that time, I was a college student, and having quick access to data was essential.  Those 3.5 in. disks only provided about 1.44MB of storage, about the size of a 45 second iTunes music file.  Given the large number of essays, book reviews, lab reports, and other assignments I had to complete as a student, one could imagine the large number of disks required for file storage.  Did I also mention how unreliable those disks were?  On a frequent basis, my files would be mysteriously erased from the floppy disks, forcing me to keep duplicates of each disk in my stash.

By the time I finished college, those floppy disks no longer met my storage needs, and continued life as drink coasters.  A new era in file storage had arrived, and USB flash drives were the new craze.  Despite the high cost per GB, flash drives proved to be a more efficient and convenient method to store data.  My initial foray into the world of flash drives was through the purchase of a 256MB SanDisk drive.  At a cost of $65, one flash drive effectively negated the need for my box of floppy disks.  I was blown away by the fact that my new flash drive could store the same amount of data as 177 floppy disks.  Unbeknownst to me, the future of file storage was about to be revolutionized through the rapid growth of the Internet and related technologies.

In the time since I finished college, less than 10 years ago, the need for physical storage drives has been eliminated and replaced by cloud-based file storage. One of the companies leading the charge in cloud storage is Dropbox, a Silicon Valley firm started in 2007. Dropbox’s vision for the future is one where people no longer need physical disk drives to store files. By making data widely available on the Internet, users can access their files anywhere and anytime, using multiple devices.

I started using Dropbox about three years ago, and the technology has drastically changed the way I store files. The software is available online and on multiple operating systems, with apps available for computers and mobiles devices. The best feature of the software it its ability to sync data in real-time. By connecting my laptop to my Dropbox account, any files contained in my Dropbox folder are automatically updated when changes are made, as long as an Internet connection is available. If the computer is offline, Dropbox will update the file changes as soon as an Internet connection becomes available. I no longer have to worry about keeping up with the latest versions of my important files, as they are always updated and available to me on the cloud.

Dropbox also allows users to share folders with others, which is very useful when my classmates and I collaborate on assignments. Any updates made to a file by one user are automatically synced to the Dropbox accounts of other users with permission to access the shared folder. This feature saved they day when I was in Africa during the holiday season, and was working on a research paper with a classmate in Europe. My wife and I also use Dropbox to share any pictures we take of our son. The Dropbox app will automatically upload any pictures I take using my smartphone or tablet, allowing my wife to access them almost instantly.

Dropbox, similar to other cloud storage companies, offers free storage (2GB) when users create an account. Through referrals and other methods, users can gain up to 16GB of additional storage for free. For people like me that require larger amounts of storage, Dropbox offers paid accounts that increase the total amount of available storage space. If you’re looking for a way to remotely access and backup your valuable data, definitely explore what Dropbox has to offer. While some may have issues with cloud storage due to Internet security, Dropbox encrypts all of your data on their servers, and also provides dual-authentication access to their website. I can easily say that Dropbox is the technology that I’ve used most frequently, and has revolutionized the way in which I store and access my data. If you’re interested and want to create an account, use my referral link to get bonus storage for your account.

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