The very first advice I read when I started the dissertation journey was BACKUP my work…at multiple places if possible. As important as my dissertation in completing my degree, I don’t feel I have efficiently backup them until recently. I was saving my chapters in USB pen drive, portable external hard disk, and even send myself email with those chapters as attachment (I have no worry about my articles collection, though, as I have Mendeley to do the backup for me). The whole backup process was messy and I have too many same files with same names but different versions. I was starting to look for better alternative when I stumbled upon Emily’s blog and she shares about the apps that she’s using: Dropbox.
I think I’m not ‘geek’ enough now that I discovered Dropbox so late. I have heard about it before but never tried it until now. I clicked the link from Emily’s and it brought me directly to new signup. Once sign-in, Dropbox directed me to download the desktop installer. Installed that on my desktop and set up a folder to be synced to Dropbox. Copy files into that folder and I could see it’s automatically synced and they can be seen on the web. Easy as ABC. By default, Dropbox gives 2GB free space with every free account. By clicking Emily’s link (as friend invitation), both of us have additional 250MB each. For every new user I invite, we get additional 250MB each too, so the first person I invited was my husband, of course. Haha!
I guess whatever cloud-based applications that I tried, one of my ‘must-have’ criteria is iPhone/iPad apps. Dropbox has user-friendly apps to view and upload files from even the iPhone.
So now I can easily work on my desktop in the office, netbook at home and view them anytime on my iPhone/iPad. Superb! Most importantly, I won’t have multiple different versions of files to keep track of.
Dropbox also promotes the collaboration function by sharing files with another Dropbox users (or the general public by sharing the public link address on that particular file). Once I initiate the share, whatever I see in my shared folder, the other person will see the same. It’s so easy as if we are in the same network. I did the test with my husband by sharing our family expenses file. Hehe!
I have read that Dropbox was having some problem with security earlier and many have been doubtful with its service. Then I read from Profhacker the other day recommending another similar service called SpiderOak, which its priority is 100% privacy and security, as an alternative to Dropbox. I went to research more to see what other netizen are using and found this good review.
In my opinion, security is not my major concern for now. My research work is no top secret. When you decide to put things in the cloud, there’s always a chance someone might see it. Nothing is 100% secure in the cloud. It’s either you don’t put them or share them. SpiderOak’s security relies on the user’s computer to keep the password and there’s no way to reset them on their server if the user forgets, meaning no one can help you with your encrypted file if you lost your password or computer crashed. Security has its give and take, depending what’s your priority. For now I’m happy with my Dropbox. Thanks Emily for recommending. 🙂