Dropbox can do much more than just back up files. The cloud-based storage service has more than 200 million personal users and 4 million business accounts, and it functions as a multi-faceted office (or personal) assistant. However, no technology is an island; applications that work in concert with Dropbox open up interesting new options.
Commercial cloud providers such as Dropbox provide convenient file storage, but one solution does not fit all types of data. Use of the cloud is not a good long-term storage solution for certain research data or confidential information.
"One thing many cloud users don't realize when using Dropbox is the fact that the encryption keys are stored on the server side rather than the client side, leaving a user's data vulnerable to data breaches," Rick Harvey, CTO at Lockbox an encryption expert, told us. "If you don't hold the keys on your server, the data isn't yours anymore."
A recent Forrester research paper (subscription required) noted, "Every day, enterprises send critical data to SaaS providers without any plan for how they will back up the data and restore it. Only when they experience data loss do they ask the question, 'Who is responsible for backing up my data?' It's time for [infrastructure and operations] leaders to stop leaving the door open to data loss and start proactively protecting cloud data -- before it's too late."
Another issue with storage solutions such as Dropbox is the "drop it and forgot it" syndrome. Users still need to manage all their files and remember to save updated versions consistently to the cloud. If someone makes changes to the original file but does not remember to upload it, no one will have access to the latest version. As Backblaze founder and CEO Gleb Budman told me, human nature being what it is, if you lose your computer, it is doubtful that all up-to-date, user-generated files will be saved to Dropbox.
Applications can work with Dropbox to help automate, organize, and streamline business processes. With more than 100,000 apps connected to Dropbox, you will find a wide variety: Bloggers can automate the process of archiving their posts, security-sensitive users can encrypt files, and people overwhelmed by email attachments can easily file them for later viewing.
Dropbox offers users 2 GB of space for free. Users can earn more free space in different ways, including referrals, taking a tour, or sending the company feedback. Upgrading to Pro for $9.99/month provides 100 GB of space. A plan for businesses is available, as well, at $15/month per user.
Check out the following seven apps that even the smartest Dropbox user can use to enhance productivity.