Dropbox is a wonderful service that not only provides “cloud” based computer storage, but does so in a way that I like a lot. I’m a bit distrusting of letting other folks take 100% control of my data and its backup and storage and accessibility. There have already been a couple of cloud-based places that either went out of business for financial reasons, had legal issues which resulted in their servers being shut down, or had some massive technical screw up that lost data. Either way, everyone who had their data on those servers lost that data, and if that was the only place they had that data (i.e., no offsite backup, such as on a memory stick, external hard drive, or their home or office computer), they were simply screwed.
Dropbox works by keeping your data on its cloud-based servers, but also keeping a copy on every computer that you have linked to your account. So, in my case, when I have my Dropbox account linked to two desktop systems and four laptops, all six of those computers have identical copies of those files. Those files which in turn are identical to the online files that I can access anywhere, any time, from my iPhone, iPad, or any computer on the planet with a web browser and an internet connection using the Dropbox.com website.
If I change a file or add a new file or make any changes at all, within a minute or so (huge files can take a couple of minutes to sync across all devices) all of those computer have the updated version.
If Dropbox goes off line or out of business or has a flood and a hurricane and an earthquake and lightning and a comet strike that wipes out their servers, I don’t lose a thing because I’ve got copies of everything on every one of those linked computers. Plus, of course, copies in those backups I’m doing regularly at my home or office. Right?
Great idea, and it works well. Since I signed up a couple of years ago I’ve gotten to the point where about 90% of the files I use day in and day out are on my Dropbox account. About the only things that routinely aren’t on Dropbox are my music library and my photos library. Those libraries have a ton of files and take up terabytes of space. But if I’m working on some much smaller subset of those files, I’ll keep the working files on Dropbox.
Now, for free Dropbox will give you 2GB of storage. If you’re storing monstrously big files for video or something, that will get filled up pretty quickly. But if you’re like me and you’re just storing Word files, Excel files, PDFs, and so on, that’s a ton of space. It’s free, take it!
Then I bought a new HP laptop back in March. As part of that purchase, Dropbox upped my storage limit with an extra 25GB…for six months.
No big deal, I’ll never use it anyway, right? Duh! I barely use the 2GB of storage that I get for free, what would I possibly use 27GB for?
As a side note, do you remember when you could get a 10MB hard disk for your computer but you couldn’t imagine why you would need it? Hell, you already had two eight-inch, double-sided, double-density floppy disk drives, and those suckers held 1.2MB each!!
Then when you had the 10MB hard disk you couldn’t think of any possible way you might want a drive with 100MB? Then 250MB? Then 1GB? 10GB? 100GB? 1TB?
Do you see the pattern here?
So, of course, when the little warning popped up yesterday, six months after I bought the new laptop, I was more than a little shocked (for at least thirty seconds) to see how much of that 27GB of Dropbox storage space I was using, and using hundreds of time every day.
With the trial period expiring I was being knocked back down to my normal, free, 2GB storage allocation – unless I wanted to upgrade to a paid Dropbox account? Say, one terabyte? It’s only about $10 a month, but we’ll give you a discount if you pay for a full year in advance, then give you another 20% off if you get it now as an extension of the 25GB of storage from the laptop purchase…
This is why heroin dealers give out free samples, isn’t it?
So, for the price of one burger and fries or Starbucks coffee per month, not only do I get to keep my 25GB of storage that I’ve gotten so, so used to, I actually get forty times that!
I can’t imagine how I will ever use that much online storage…
Well played, Dropbox marketing team. Well played.