An introduction to Dropbox

Many of you will have heard about Dropbox, so this article aims to give you a simple overview of Dropbox and why you might need it.

If you know what Dropbox is and want to know how to download and install it, then go right to our our step-by-step guide to installing Dropbox

Do I need Dropbox?

To answer this, let's look at the following questions:

  • Does your family own more than one computer (or laptop/smartphone)?
  • Do you want to easily share images or files with family and friends?
  • Do you want to always have access to your files when you're on the move?
  • Do you want to maintain versions of files? (e.g. revisions of a book or complicated spreadsheet)

If the answer to any of the above is "Yes", then Dropbox might be perfect for you.


How does Dropbox work?

At its most basic level, Dropbox is just another folder on your computer, and appears just like any other folder on your computer. However, the exception to a Dropbox folder is that any files you store in this folder are automatically synchronised with any other computer or device which you have linked to your Dropbox account. As such any changes, additions, deletions to files are synchronised too.

Imagine you have installed Dropbox on your computer in the UK, and you're just about to leave for a holiday at your villa in Turkey, but you have some files you need to take with you to use on your computer in Turkey. With Dropbox, all you have to do is to copy the files to your Dropbox folder on your UK computer. Then when you get to Turkey, install Dropbox on your local computer, and then through the power of Dropbox and the internet, the files from the UK computer will 'magically' appear on the computer in Turkey.

Best of all, the basic package is free, and very easy to use.


Dropbox can do so much more.

  • Share files with friends
    If you want, you can share files from your Dropbox with your friends; just move the file into your "public" folder inside your personal Dropbox folder, then right-click the file you want to share then go to "Dropbox", then click "Copy Public Link", then send this to your friends and will be able to access the files.

  • Share photos with friends
    Simply put some image files in a folder within the "Photos" folder inside your personal Dropbox, then right-click the folder and go to "Dropbox", then click "Copy Public Gallery Link", then send this to your friends, who will be able to view the photos online in a nice gallery.

  • Access your files with a web browser
    If you ever need to access your files while you're away from home, but you can't install Dropbox (e.g. you're at a internet cafe), then no problem, just login to the Dropbox website with your account, then you can browse the contents of your personal Dropbox and download the files you need.

  • Versioning
    Imagine you're working on an important document... If you make sure you save the file inside your personal Dropbox, then every time you save it it will synchronise the file with your online Dropbox account. Now here's the clever part. Instead of deleting the old version and replacing it with the new version of the file, Dropbox cleverly saves a new version of the file. If you ever need to access an old version of the file, just right-click the folder and go to "Dropbox", then click "View Previous Versions". This will open up your Dropbox account in a web browser, just select the version of the file you wish to download and save it to your computer.


How do I get/install Dropbox?

Check out our step-by-step guide to installing Dropbox


For more information...

  1. Check out Dropbox's excellent tour.
  2. View our step-by-step guide to installing Dropbox