I’m not usually one to write rave product reviews, but I can’t help myself. We’ve been using DropBox to share files at Thought Ensemble for the last couple weeks and this simple solution has addressed a big need for our company. Before one of my friends told me about DropBox a couple of weeks ago, we’d been searching for a document management solution, ideally a free one, to bridge the gap until we are big enough for something like SharePoint. We tested out Google Docs as well as many other free and paid solutions, but none met our basic needs. When it came down to it, they were all more difficult than emailing documents back and forth.
DropBox is not actually advertised as a multi-user file sharing solution; it is actually geared towards a user who wants to access files from multiple computers. It allows for automatic syncing of files between these computers. Sounds pretty basic, yes, and I’ve heard of similar products, but never thought about using them for file sharing across users.
When one of my friends suggested DropBox as a solution to what I described as our needs, we decided to check it out. Claudia, our office manager, set up several folders and shared with me, and then I shared some of mine with her. We shared some of the folders with John. In our various folder structures, the three of us tested ease of access, searching, sharing, privacy, simultaneous updates, everything we cared about. And this simple tool did it all. But the real test came when Jim returned to town and we got him incorporated and using DropBox in just a few minutes. Time will tell, but so far, it is better than any solution we’ve used at past companies. It isn’t scalable, but for a small set of people, it is very easy to use and so far is free.
Here’s what I love about this product:
- I can find the files as fast and easy as any files on my desktop. DropBox shows up as another root folder in my Mac Finder window, just like the Desktop, or the Documents, where I find the rest of my files.
- I can search natively using my Mac. Those of you who have Macs know how speedy and accurate the Mac search is with two keystrokes. Everything in DropBox is local, so I can search it anytime, even if I’m not connected.
- I can access my files anywhere! All I have to do is log into drop box and I can reach them. Apparently they even have an iPhone application coming soon…
- We can modify files simultaneously. We’ve been using this extensively on our current project to archive and organize all the client files as well as store all our notes and deliverables. I keep everything on DropBox versus on my local drive (but the beautiful thing is it IS on my local drive!). We keep our company sales pipeline in an Excel spreadsheet and all of us update it as we have changes, rather than trying to email around updates. In the case that multiple people update at the same time, Drop Box tells us there’s a conflict. That’s only happened once so far.
- If we want to share files with clients, and don’t have easy access to SharePoint, we can quickly set up a file sharing folder and share with them.
- If we need to get back to previous versions (in all honesty, I haven’t used this yet), DropBox keeps the history of what’s been changed.
So I just thought I’d tell the world how much I love this product … so far. Hope a few more people find it useful!