What is Dropbox?
We are avid users of Dropbox – no, we’re not paid to blog about the application, but it has made a big impact on the productivity of our graphic design studio. It’s one of many great cloud-based production tools we use, so I wanted to share it with you.
Q: What is Dropbox?
A: Dropbox is a file sharing application. Basically it is an alternative way of sharing attachments (documents etc) instead of email.
Dropbox does not replace email in terms of collaboration and communication, but it has an important role in sharing files.
Here are the top reasons our Graphic Design studio use Dropbox.
Many email servers have file size issues. When working with graphic designers, our files are often large, so Dropbox will allow us to share files with you without bouncebacks etc. This also means that your inbox is not too large (which may cause issues on your side). Dropbox comes with a standard 2GB free option. Dropbox shares options for you to both earn extra space for free and to upgrade to options better suited to your requirements.
Dropbox is like a virtual server. All files are stored online (cloud storage) and with individual shared users. When we update our files, they are automatically updated on your side – it’s like having your own virtual server!
Dropbox has an option to either work via the browser or to download the free and secure application onto your device (desktop computer, tablet, cellphone etc). You can work via the browser, but I tend to find it a bit clumsy. If you install the desktop version it automatically creates a folder on your drive. That folder is mirrored online, and with the person who is shared on the folder. Anything that is added or deleted from the folder will be mirrored across all shared users. If you are saving directly into your Dropbox folder, every time you save it will upload and sync to the online version. This will then download and sync all shared user folders. With this in mind, don’t advise working with Dropbox as your “working version” and rather to copy files in there for sharing.
Note: Be careful not to delete out of your Dropbox folder as this will be deleted from all users. The good news is that it can be recovered from the browser, but its extra work so try to avoid it.
Various team members can be invited to share a folder. This means that you don’t need to trawl your inbox for a mail from the last person who sent an update – a notification shows up on your screen to tell you that the Dropbox has been updated.
There are two ways to share files in Dropbox.
A) Sharing Links:
You can share a link, and that will share that individual folder or document only. If you move that folder, the link will be broken. It is a “one way” sharing so the shared party cannot modify the files.
B) Sharing Folders:
Sharing folders allows for the shared users to collaborate and share the files across the virtual server.
Our graphic design studio, Halo Media, is very process orientated. Part of this means ensuring we have well organised asset libraries. Dropbox allows us to categorise the files and put them into folders so the shared folders are neat and easy to navigate.
We operate as brand custodians for many of our clients. Dropbox makes it easy for us to share relevant brand folders with various people and determine who has access to company files. It is especially crucial for your Corporate Identity. An example of a folder hierarchy is below:
- Logo formats (in here we’d have jpeg, pdf, high and low resolution files etc)
- Brand Guidelines – this would be the “rules” of how to use the brand
- Letterhead (MS Word)
- Business Card and Business card ordering form if we are going to do the artwork
- PowerPoint template
- Memo template
- Corporate brochure
- Condensed brochures / inserts
- Individual service brochures
As you can see- having all these elements on email would be confusing. Each time there is an update, we upload it the Dropbox and everyone has the latest version. No confusion and duplicate documents.
Your files are safely stored in the cloud. So if your computer has an issue and breaks down, or if it is stolen, you don’t lose the work. You can login via www.dropbox.com and retrieve the files. When you get a new computer and sign into the Dropbox application on it, it will automatically download the files for you (bonus!). And, it can be installed on all your devices – so you can access your files from your phone or tablet too!
Dropbox has file security and encryption in place to protect your files. I’m not qualified to say or advise about their security. However, from my experience I have had no issues with it (over several years of use) and their reputation is strong, so I assume they protect data very well.
POSSIBLE ISSUES TO BE AWARE OF:
Whilst it is standard for many companies, you may need to check with your IT division if you are having problems accessing it. You may have company firewalls which block it.
If you are not able to access, there are other options available. When you choose us for your project we will be able to show you these options.