Tools of the Trade: Dropbox

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I spend months working on a manuscript. The last thing I want is to have my computer’s drive die, or just as bad, rewrite entire scenes and then realize I didn’t save the previous version anywhere. And let’s get one thing straight – drives die. It’s not a 2% or a 5% chance, but 100%. Sooner or later, it’ll happen. Where are your manuscripts? How much work would you lose? What would happen if your home suffered a natural disaster? All the local backups in the world won’t get back your manuscripts then.

This is where I swear by Dropbox. What is Dropbox? It’s a software solution that lets you sync your files online. It’s also sort of an offsite backup solution. So, if my drive dies, my manuscripts are safe.  And, better yet, I can get back files I might have deleted or modified since Dropbox has a form of version control. Yes, I could use TimeMachine since I work on a Mac.  But Dropbox works on PCs and Macs and, as long as the files are compatible, I can share between two.

I can easily switch from writing on my desktop to my laptop and never have to transfer a file or worry if I’m working on an older file. It works on my iPad and my iPhone as well. It’s perfect for NanoWrimo. It’s perfect for beta readers and crit partners. I can share covers and excerpts with street team members or book bloggers who have signed up for blog tours. Aside from my manuscripts, I can share slideshows and pictures with family and friends. Mac or PC or even a combination of the two, Dropbox makes sharing files and folders easy.

How it works:  I can either place the items in a private folder and send them an invitation, or I can drop it in a public folder and send them the short url. Not online? No problem. Because Dropbox keeps a copy locally, I can work to my heart’s content and the files will sync when I reconnect.

Is it safe? *Gasp!* What if someone hacks into Dropbox and steals your manuscript? Really? Unless you’re in the realm of Stephen King or John Grisham then I don’t think you’ve got much to worry about. Let’s be logical. Dropbox uses military grade encryption, but that’s not the kicker here. How many people do you email your manuscripts too? Agents? Editors? Crit partners and beta readers? Which means your manuscript is quite likely on their computers, not to mention in their email and their email provider’s servers. In a worst-case scenario, your files are less likely to be compromised elsewhere, even your own computer unless you’re using encryption.

For those interested, the first 2GB is free on Dropbox, and if you use my invite link, both you and I will get an extra 500MB free as well. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, you’ll be surprised at how many manuscripts and files that will hold.

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2 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade: Dropbox

  1. Great post! Yes, backup is SO important. I don’t use Dropbox, but my husband the geek has set up multiple backup systems for us, on- and off-site. I also save a current copy of whatever I’m working on to hardrive, thumbdrive, and email so it’s available on whatever computer I happen to be at.

  2. LOL! I have multiple backups, too. Geeks unite! I’ve been in the biz and can’t tell you how many people fail to do a backup. I remember one guy who lost years worth of digital photos. Sad.

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