Dropbox

We’ve all been there. You’re working on a song, and you wanna send it to a buddy to critique. What do you do? You email it, of course!

Ugh…Thirty emails later, and you’ve successfully taken up 150 MB of space on your email server. Not to mention the fact that if you ever want to send that song to another friend (I’m assuming you all have more than one friend :-)), you have to either re-upload the mp3 and email it, or you have to hunt it down in your Sent Mail folder and forward it.

There’s nothing wrong with using email for this, but it sure isn’t ideal. I always hate being on the receiving end of an email with one (or heaven forbid multiple) mp3’s attached to it. It bogs down my poor little DSL modem, and I cry a little bit each time.

Enter Dropbox

I had heard about this fabled getdropbox.com a time or two, but I didn’t give it a second thought, until I tried it. This is seriously cool! You get 2 GB of storage that you can access from anywhere. Seriously. Anywhere. Mac? Yep. PC? Yep. Web browser? Yep. iPhone? Yep!

Go Public

First of all, there’s the Public folder. If you want to share files with other folks via email, the public folder is your new best friend. Simply upload your files to this folder, then click on the little drop-down arrow next to the file, select “Copy public link” to copy your link. Now all you have to do is paste that sucker into an email, and you’re home free!

Your recipients simply click on the link from their email, and they can play the file straight from their browser. Or if they’re super cool, they can right-click on the link and save the file on their computer.

This alone is worth the price of admission. (By the way, did I mention it’s free?)

Keep it Private

So perhaps you’re worried that that hit album you’re working on will get leaked to the public if you start throwing out email links all willy-nilly. Fair enough. Dropbox offers you the option of creating private shared folders, which you can share with whomever you choose. For example, my brother-in-law Joel is working on an album (soon to be released on Loud Crow Records). I’m singing on one of the tracks, and since we live a bajillion miles away from each other, we have to send tracks back and forth.

How do we do it? I thought you’d ask. We both created Dropbox accounts, then I created a folder named “Joel.” Next, I simply entered Joel’s email address and invited him to be a part of the awesome folder that was named after him.

Now, if either of us have a new mix, we simply upload it to the Joel folder then email the other guy to check it out. (It usually goes something like this: “Hey dummy. Check Dropbox. Love, Joe(l).”)

Drag & Drop, Baby!

It just keeps getting better. Remember how I said Dropbox works anywhere? ‘Twasn’t a lie. If you install the Dropbox application on your computer (Mac or PC), you can simply drag and drop files to and from your Dropbox account without ever setting foot inside a web browser. Pretty cool, right?

Not only that, but Dropbox automatically updates your folder on your local machine if any files are added or altered on any other machine (or by any other user of a shared folder). It even notifies you via a cute little pop-up window. It would be easier to show you this in action, so check out the video:

Plays Well with iPhone

If you’re an iPhone user, you can access the iPhone version of the Dropbox site to check out your files. You can even email links to your Public files directly from your iPhone! Just click on the little envelope icon to the right of the filename.

Musician’s note: This is a great option for sharing your tunes on-the-go. Simply upload any files you want to have access to to your public folder, and when that A&R rep from a major label says, “Send me some of your recordings,” you can whip out your iPhone and say, “Done!”Dropbox on iPhone

In Closing

Needless to say, this is cool. I can’t think of another free system out there that gives you this much functionality. And if you ever need more room, you can buy a paid upgrade:

Dropbox PricingOne final cool feature. Being the smart folks that they are over at Dropbox, not only is the 2 GB version free, but you can earn up to 3 GB of total space by simply referring other people. I’ve referred I think one person so far, so if you like what you’ve read and want to try it out, click here. (That’s my referral link.) Either way, you should certainly check it out. I have a feeling you’ll be glad you did.

  • Biby A

    What is the largest size of file….that I can upload….straight to the http://www.Dropbox.com web site….as opposed to “dumping the file” into my dropbox folder on my pc? I ask this because….i tried to dump 1 movie……and….their system told me….that they don’t allow files to enter their system that large…on their web site.

    • No idea, sorry. You might want to ask them directly.

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  • Jocelyn

    Dropbox is fine to send maybe one big file to someone. But if you have a set of files it is an absolute nightmare as it is SO SLOW. I just waited all night for it to upload a set of high res photographic images and it hadnt even finished 3 images (100 meg each) by the morning! I have a fast internet connection too, so that is not the problem. Dropbox actually just wastes your time by over-promising and not delivering when it comes to large files. Sorry! I’ll be mailing my images now – yes, via the post (how stupid is that?!)!

    • That’s really odd. I’ve never had slow issues with Dropbox, but then again I’m in the US. Maybe that’s a difference?

    • Saven

      Same problem we had when we decided to try it out in the office. It was great for getting single documents to everyone, but whenever we tried to upload a set of small files, it could take 24 hours to get 500mb (1 CD at a time) uploaded. We had to abandon the idea and just leave everyone to either download from our server in the office or put on the FTP.

      • Yeah, I rarely use Dropbox for big files. I use my Amazon S3 account for that stuff.

  • We’ve been using http://b2bfiles.net over here at the office to communicate with clients and it works pretty well. Just out of curiosity, does anyone use dropbox to communicate with clients?

    • I use it to share files with clients when I’m working on a project. Not a perfect solution, but it works well most of the time.

  • Thanks for this review Joe! I offer online drum tracks via collaboration and this is a vital step to do so. I’ve been debating over FTP, email and even snail mail and this looks like a solid option. I may have to try this out.. thanks again.

  • dude, I love Dropbox! I am using it for three different projects right now and it’s just so useful. Easy collaboration by giving clients backdoor access to folders, easy linkage of files and fake hosting of files to pass along.

    I love it.

  • Hey Joe, is kRem from kRemstudios…

    I think a lot of people still don’t know how to manage big files. What you recommend is absolutely of big helps and it will serve as a “Wow, I did not know that” to many looking for a solution like it. I actually talk about sending big files on my company’s site blog (one man company), and it might also help others too.

    Here’s the link > http://kremtronicz.com/send-big-files-over-the-internet.html

    Best of luck and thank you Joe!

    kRem 😉

  • Just checked it out, it’s awesome. I bought an unlimited storage FTP acct from HostMonster awhile back for shipping tracks back and forth; however only 1 or 2 of my musician buddies are FTP geeks like me…DropBox looks a LOT easier. Thanks for the tip!

    This reminds me of another workflow topic someday: backups. we all use external secondary drives to back up music (or we should!)…but I recently started using Mozy and it’s quite awesome. You get unlimited backup space for $5/mo (or 2GB free I think). There is Carbonite too, a similar service. I have all of my family’s docs & media (pics, mp3s, etc) backed up on Mozy, 200gb. It took 3 months to get it all backed up via a Cable modem of course….with 512kps upload speed it took a LONG time, so with DSL it might take longer. I set Mozy to only do backups late at night too, so that also contributed to the long time to get my stuff backed up (but I need my bandwidth during the day!) …so the upload speed kind of blows, BUT: it does it all in the background and you never notice it’s backing up. It can be told to not back up when the CPU is at a certain busy level too, all kinds of tweaks. I have yet another (offsite) backup in addition to my regular backups to an external drive. If my house burns down or theft happens, I know I have that “one extra backup of my external drive backup…”. They can send you a set of encrypted DVDs to speed up the restore process too.
    Mozy/Carbonite don’t present a “virtual drives” or have a web site for uploading/downloading, though. They work differently from DropBox/YouSendIt . They use a backup/restore client that you configure to back up important folders, and the client just runs in the background looking for file updates/changes and backs them up.

    Anyway, I digress…thanks again for the info on DropBox, this is great stuff!

    • Thanks for the tips, Julian! I’m a fan of backing things up, but you raise a good point about backing up remotely. Who cares if I have two copies of everything if they all burn up in a house fire?

  • I find the upload speed for larger files to be painfully slow using the Dropbox program. When it’s important I always use the uploader on the website.

    It’s a great free service though.

  • I love Dropbox. Use it for music AND school stuff now. Might pay to upgrade I like it so much.

  • Joe

    I’ve also found You Send It to be useful. For the Mac users out there, Apple offers Mobile Me. My band utilizes it daily for song ideas, uploading photos, flyers to copy, etc. Our engineer also will send up current versions of a mix too. He’ll upload the song, email us from the website and we’ll download it from the email to give it a listen. There’s a calendar too that we put work, show and practices schedules on too. It’s about $99 a year for 20gb of space.

    • Thanks Joe! I actually used MobileMe for a year. It’s very cool, especially for syncing up calendars and hosting a podcast, etc. However, I can sync my calendars in Gmail, and I don’t think I would use the full 20 GB. For me the free Dropbox made more sense than renewing my $99 MobileMe subscription.