I’m presented the first of three classes this weekend last night at the Midwest Genealogy Center. It happens to be on Locating, Citing, and Sharing – Doing Genealogy in the Digital World. One of my big tips is about DropBox. I thought you might like to know about it, too.
The Problem Sharing Files
If you’ve ever tried to send a big file (large picture) or many files (a series of pension records) to a friend or family member by email only to have the email crash you know how difficult sharing files can be. If you’ve ever worked on a genealogy project with one or more people and you’re constantly passing files back and forth, you know how difficult sharing files can be. There’s got to be a better way.
What is DropBox?
DropBox is a relatively new website designed to make sharing digital files easy.
Dropbox is a website where you can upload your files, documents, records, pictures into a safe, secure, password-protected file. The records are transported to the “cloud” or Internet, where others whom you invite can access them. Then you simply invite others to “join” that file, and voila! you’re sharing.
The file structure on DropBox is very similar to Internet Explorer, in that you can create folders and sub-folders and put files (documents such as pictures, pdf files, spreadsheets, or Word documents) inside of them.
It’s that simple.
You and your guests can see the files, copy the files, edit the files just as if they were sitting on your own computers. The big difference is you both can see and access them at the same time!
How to Get Started.
The first step is to create an account. Simply go to www.dropbox.com And sign up for an account. DropBox asks for a name, email and password. Did I mention it’s free.? You will want to download the DropBox application. (There’s a big button on the home page, “download ap.”) With this you can start sharing your files.
NOTE: when you share a file with someone, they do not need to download the ap. They just need to create an account. However, if they do download the ap because you shared a file then YOU get additional space added to your account. It’s kind of like a pyramid scheme, but everything is free. DropBox rewards you for getting new people to download their application by giving you more space. Kinda cool.
How it Works
Once you have an account, you’ll be able to treat your DropBox account like a second computer in the cloud. You can upload files, download files, edit files, and share files just like a regular computer. You can share files with whomever you like and only those people will be able to see the files. Further you can set permissions that will either allow or permit your guests to share the files with others, that way you have total control over who sees what.
A Couple Words of Advice
- If you or the person you share the folder or file with ever moves the file out of DropBox or deletes it, everyone in the shared pool looses access to it. So don’t put your only copy of a document on DropBox.
- Parent Folder Rules Override. If you have a folder with sub-folders the parent file sharing rules you sent up control all of the sub-folders. Let’s say you have a Watson Family File and under it you have four individual folders representing four members of the Watson family. If I let Mary, Sam and Larry see what’s in the Watson Family File, then Mary, Sam, and Larry can see everything in the sub-folders, too. Parent file sharing rules dominate.
Don’t let these couple of cautions dissuade you. This is an excellent free tool, which will make sharing folders of documents or just individual documents SO much easier. Go out and try it today!