Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dropbox for writers

Hi! Lucy here. Today I want to share a useful tool I’ve found to help with my writing.


Dropbox


Available from www.dropbox.com, it is an online cloud storage facility … and yet so much more. Available across Mac, PC, Android, and iPhone platforms, this app can backup, sync, and share across all of these devices.

Here are some of the ways I use it for both writing and personal use:


To backup everything to do with my writing (this includes word docs, pictures, videos, Evernote notes, sticky notes etc. I collect), along with my entire Documents folder, iTunes and iPhoto folders. They all now live in Dropbox. This means that I can access a personal file from my Document folder while at the bank or while away from home, I can pull up my current WIP and keep working whenever I have 5mins spare from my phone or tablet, I can sync my music from my iTunes folder to my phone/tablet without having to physically hook the two up with USB cables etc.

Sync docs and photos to and from tablets/iPad’s without having to connect them. E.g., my daughter wants to do her PowerPoint presentation for school on her Android tablet and then either print it off or stick it on a USB stick (a problem because tablets don’t have USB slots). She can complete her work, save it to Dropbox, which I can then access on my MacBook Pro and print etc.

Store large amounts of photos taken by mobile phones etc. Early last year I went on a research trip to Winton and Augathella in outback Queensland. I took LOTS of photos with my HTC 1XL mobile phone. So many that I worried about running out of room on the internal storage…. But I had no problems because my phone automatically backs up to Dropbox. So as soon as it had synced I could delete them from my phone.

Share folders with family and critique partners. This is one of THE most useful parts of Dropbox: its ability to share folders. I have three shared folders—one with my critique partners (which we drop our docs we want critiqued, interesting research/craft stuff we find, etc. I also share one with my parents which makes sharing grandchildren photos MUCH easier. And then I share one with Dave, the love of my life. Documents, photos, videos etc that we need/want to share all go in that folder, which streamlines life for us.

Sharing files too large for an email or videos too big for a text message. This shares a file from a folder that isn’t shared, allowing the other person to see only that file and not the contents of the entire folder. I’ve done this on several occasions now. E.g.: I had a long video of my son riding a motorbike that I wanted to share with my sisters, but was far too large to send through a normal MMS/text message. No problem, I just shared the Dropbox link to that video through a text—which they could view on their smartphones quite easily.

Recoverable files. If I delete a file (like a book! Argh! And yes, I’ve done this—don’t ask!), or even just a picture, it’s recoverable. Dropbox doesn’t permanently delete a file until three months after I ‘delete’ it from my device. All I have to do is go online to my Dropbox account and restore that file to my folder.

I just love the peace of mind that having everything backed up with Dropbox brings. If my laptop dies/is stolen, then everything is safe in the cloud storage. I haven’t lost anything because it isn’t just on my laptop/tablet.


So, consider looking into using an online storage device like Dropbox (there are others out there, but I’m not familiar with them). It’s free, you get quite a few gig of storage, especially if you connect more than one device. I now have 77GB which I use seamlessly across my MacBook Pro, my Samsung tablet, daughter’s iPad, and my HTC phone.



Lucy Morgan-Jones is a stay-at-home mum to four precocious children by day and a snoop by night, stalking interesting characters through historical Colorado, and writing about their exploits.

She enjoys meeting new people from all over the world and learning about the craft of writing. When she can be separated from her laptop, she is a professional time waster on facebook, a slave to the towering stack of books on her bedside table, and a bottler, preserving fruit the old fashioned way so she can swap recipes and tips with her characters.

Her home is in Australia where she does not ride a kangaroo to the shops, mainly because four children won’t fit. ;)

Represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America.

17 comments:

  1. Wow Lucy! You can save all that hard writing work plus photos and everything else, so no worries.

    Great thinking.

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    1. Exactly! No worries. :) That's why I love it.

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  2. Hi Lucy, I'd heard of Dropbox but hadn't looked into it. Thanks for providing a helpful summary of the benefits. I didn't realise it also stored photos - very handy :)

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    1. It stores ANY sort of file. Which is wonderful across multiple platforms. :)

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  3. Hi Lucy,
    Great that you've shared this. I've been using Dropbox for a couple of years now and it's awesome. When I save an article or anything to do with my writing I automatically back it up to Dropbox. I have a "Shirl_Store" folder for my own stuff, and I have created linked folders with all the family members. This not only means I can send each one something privately, but each one that signed up gave me extra bandwidth.
    Oh, I also use the public folder when I want to give away something or allow people to download files from my website. I store it on Dropbox instead and they download from there.
    What I haven't done is set it to sync my writing folder automatically. Thanks for a brilliant idea!


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    1. That's a great idea, using Dropbox to store files for your website. :)

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  4. Since I am now retyping an entire book from hard copy -- at least I didn't delete the hard copy -- I'd love to know who to so that automatic sync. I've only used drop box for sharing files.

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    1. Hi Alice, if you set up a new Dropbox folder and pop your copy of the book into there then it will automatically sync as soon as new changes are made to it. Eg, as soon as you hit save in a Word doc.

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  5. I looove Dropbox. I had no idea I could recover files I'd deleted up to 3 months later. Good to know!

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    1. yes, you can recover the files. :) Just go login online, then click on the folder that the file was deleted from. Up the top of the screen are five icons, click on the one that looks like a rubbish bin. The deleted files show up in gray. Just click which one/s you want to restore, which then takes you to a separate tab. Choose which version of that file you wish to restore and voila!

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  6. Lucy, thank you for the nudge. I'm woefully behind in using the technology, and I've had a prejudice about the cloud applications perhaps not being secure from hijack. It's good to know how this functions for you and how I might be able to make it work for me.

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    1. Hi Judith!
      Dropbox uses the same security as online banks do, so it's pretty secure. Plus, the odds of a hacker going to an enormous bunch of trouble to hack into someone's Dropbox account to find sensitive information is pretty slim.
      Yes, do look into it, you might be surprised as to how good it is. :) Trial it, and if you don't like it, then delete your account. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. :)

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  7. So, okay, I've signed up for Dropbox. I had a file of photos on my computer that I needed to share with my daughter in Florida. I dragged the file to Dropbox, sent her the link, then invited her to share the folder. I'm waiting for confirmation from her that it works. Looks like it's going to be super simple and extremely useful. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

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    1. No worries! Glad to help. Hope you continue to find Dropbox useful and able to streamline lots of things for you. :) All the best!

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  8. Lucy, great article that I'm sharing. I use Drop Box and love it!

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    1. Glad you love it as well. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I appreciate this information, Lucy. I was recently complaining to my husband about the problems I had using a flash drive to save my work, transferring it to a different computer and then getting confused on which was the most recent version. . .He told me to start using Drop Box! This is a great explanation and I'm going to do this.

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