Maximizing Your Dropbox Account

Dropbox isn’t just for backups. You can use it to share files, transfer files between computers, and host website files externally.

Dropbox is an easy-to-use, cloud-based file backup and sharing system. You just need to sign up for a free online account to get started. You can also install the optional software to make managing your files much easier. Once you install the software, you will have a local Dropbox folder that behaves the same as any other folder, but it will automatically sync any files and folders inside it with your online account.

Uses for Dropbox

  • Back up your important and sensitive files to a secure location. After you install the Dropbox software on your computer, all you have to do is to keep your important files in your Dropbox folder, and they will be synced to the cloud. Make sure they are not in the Public folder or in any folders you are sharing with others, and if the files are sensitive, we recommend you put them in an encrypted archive (see the Dropbox File Security section below). If your computer crashes and you lose all your data, you will be able to access your files again by signing into your online Dropbox account from any computer.
  • Share files with other people. You can share folders with specific people (just enter their email addresses), and you can share files in your Public folder with anyone. Files in your Public folder can be accessed by anyone who has the URL.
  • Easily move/copy files between computers at home and work. Network file transfers can be slow, emails have size limits, and it can be annoying to transfer files via USB drives. With Dropbox, just make sure the client software is installed on the computers you want to transfer files between. On the first computer, just put the files you want to copy inside your Dropbox folder. They will automatically start to sync with your online account, and the second computer will soon start to download them. It’s that easy.
  • Host website files. Put files, such as large audio or video files, in your Public Dropbox folder. Then link to them from your website. By hosting website files on Dropbox, they won’t count towards any storage and bandwidth limits you may have.

Dropbox File Security

Like any cloud-based application, security is always a concern. If you are storing sensitive information (such as financial data or passwords), we suggest putting those files in an encrypted archive. You can use a program like 7-Zip or WinRAR to create a password-protected .zip or .rar archive. Keep that archive in your Dropbox folder instead of the separate files, and of course, make sure you do not put the archive or sensitive files in your Public folder or in any folders you are sharing with others. Dropbox has a number of security measures already in place, but password protecting your files within an archive will create an extra level of security for your data.

Get More Free Space

See the Lifehacker article The Cheapskate’s Guide to Getting Free Dropbox Space for tips on getting more free space. There are certain actions you can perform, such as connecting your account to an .edu email address and referring your friends, that will add more free space to your Dropbox account. You can probably get as much as 20 GB of free space in your account if you do all of the steps. And if you need more space than that, paid accounts are very reasonable – they start at $9.99/month or $99.00/year for 50 GB of space.

Use this referral link (, and you will get an extra 250 MB (2.25 GB total) when you sign up for a free account and install the Dropbox software on your computer.

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