Starter Guide for Dropbox

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Dropbox is one of the best solution when it comes to seamless file sync between your computer and online storage, sharing files with your friends, transferring files between computer and so on.  I am writing this guide for users who never used a Dropbox account but if you have already used, there are a couple of points you will find interesting.

Dropbox

Introduction to Dropbox :

Dropbox is a combination of  online service and software solution built for three things :

  1. Making it easy for you to back up your files to an online storage and keep it in sync.
  2. Making it easily available to you even if you are on a different computer i.e. When you go back home from office.
  3. Making it easy for you to share files with your friends and family or just with anybody.

So how does it work ?

When you install the software, it will keep watch on a folder. Any files added will be instantly uploaded to your online account and the process takes place in background.  This means you don’t have to wait for the upload to complete and for some reason if you need to get offline or shutdown your computer, you can do it because Dropbox will resume where it left as soon as you get online.


How to install a Dropbox on a computer :

Installing Dropbox is like installing any other software but before you start I will tell you what happens. Dropbox once installed will create a folder in your computer which you can choose.  Since you have an option to choose, make a choice on your computer where you have space so when you add files, you don’t run out of space. In case you do, you can change the location any time.

  • Download the setup from the website, once download is complete, double-click to Install it.
  • Once installation is complete, you will see the Dropbox icon in your system tray. Double Click to Launch
  • If this is the first time, select I don’t have a Dropbox account. Fill in details with a Valid email id.
  • Next select the 2 Gb package to start with.
  • Choose Advance Settings and then select choose where you want to install it.
  • Next Option choose I want this computer to sync all folders in my Dropbox.

In few seconds, your computer will be linked to your online account. To start you have two folders Photos, Public and a PDF file to get started. Just don’t place anything in public folder as of now.

Uploading and Sharing Files and Folders on your Dropbox.

Uploading :

Now get into your Dropbox folder and create a sample folder. Add some random files inside it. You will see the files and folder get a sync icon on the corner. This means it is getting uploaded to your online storage.

Dropbox File SyncNow to check if your file is uploaded, right-click on the Dropbox Tray Icon and select Launch Dropbox Website. Once it opens, select Files tab and you will the new folder listed there.

Dropbox Files Online

Sharing :

Now lets share this older with somebody. To share a folder you will have to go online. Click on Share a Folder and then give an email id with whom you want to share. If the person has a Dropbox account already he will have to just accept your invitation else one has to install it and then accept your invitation.

Dropbox Shared Folder InvitationThe share folder invitation is notified under sharing tab or email. Once your invitation is accepted, you will get a message in your computer itself. In case you have a lot of files in that folder, it will take sometime for the person who accepted your invitation to get it downloaded on his machine. Now any files uploaded by that person or you will be shared by both of you. So make sure you have uploaded files which needs to be shared by that person.

A folder can be shared between multiple people so if you want to remove somebody from the shared list,  Go to your online account and go inside that folder. Next select Shared Folder Options then remove that person from the members tab. When you remove the person you get an option to let him keep the files or delete it from his Dropbox folder.

Dropbox Remove Member from Shared Folder

Finding what changed in your Dropbox.

When it comes to sharing, there is no direct control Dropbox provides that lets you control who can control what. Any person who deleted a file added by you also gets deleted from your folder. So the first rule of sharing is share with people whom you trust.

But the good part is that any file deleted from computer is not completely deleted from your or anybody’s account. So it can be removed but before that lets find out what changed.

Select the Events Tab in your online account. This place lists down all the minor activities i.e. File change activity  for every folder.  You can see the log for any particular date using the calendar control right there.

Dropbox Recent File Change Activity

Also a RSS feed is generated which you can add it to your favorite reader so even if you are not near your computer, you get to know using the feed.

Recover Deleted Files or Previous Versions of a File.

Taking the above example, you can see that I have accidentally deleted a file which my Uncle was sharing with me. Now to recover that file what he can do is, click on the file name which is displayed under the event tab. This will take him to a Version History area where he can see all the changed made to the document.

Version History of Dropbox Account

So now not he can recover the file but he can also recover the file from a previous date. He can also see preview of the document which will be downloaded on his computer. The files will be restored in all the computers where the folder was shared.

Clearing your Doubt

Question 1 : Can anybody restore the file ?

Answer 1 : Yes, even if this is accidentally deleted by the owner itself.

Question 2: Can anybody see preview of the deleted file ?

Answer 2 : No. When one attempts to view the file, the person gets an error message as “This file has been deleted. The following is a list of all previous versions of the file.”

How to Permanently delete files from Dropbox.

This leads to a very obvious question, How can i remove files from Dropbox forever, so nobody is able to restore it.

A file which is deleted from Dropbox Folder can always be restored by anybody with whom you have shared. So to wipe it out forever you should do it from Online Account.

Navigate to the folder, select the file using the check box and then use the menu to First Delete it.

Delete a File from Dropbox

Once it is deleted, click on Show Deleted Files and you will see all files which were deleted from the computer. Now use the menu again and select Permanently Delete.

Permanently Delete Files from Dropbox

Files which are deleted from online account are not listed under Events Tab. They are just for Folder activity. Secondly the person with whom you shared the file will never see in his recent activity though he will get notification of files deleted.

How to share private files and folders with anybody ( Read Only )

Worried about this file sharing, restore, permanent delete you might be thinking by now “Can I just share files like I do on Facebook and Twitter ?” , Good news is you can and thanks to Votebox.

To share a file, select the file and click on More button and click on “Get sharable Link”. This will generate unique url which you can give out to anybody.

Get Shareable link in Dropbox

Shared link with Live Preview in Dropbox

What others will see ?

The person who sees this has option to share on Twitter or Facebook and the best option to copy to his Dropbox account.

Dropbox Shared Link as seen by Public

 

To remove any file from shared link, you should go to your online account and select the Sharing Tab and remove that link which is under Linked Items. Read our indepth tutorial on this.

Recommended Dropbox Tools, Add-ons  and Tips :

Though Dropbox itself is more than enough but there are some awesome tools which can interact with your Dropbox account safely to get even more features. Below is what I like most :

Find more on Dropbox Addons and Dropbox Tips



A Professional Tech blogger, Editor and Writer who talks about solving day to day problems of people who use computer. His expertise are in Windows 7, Microsoft Office, Software, Mobile Apps and Video Posts. You can find Ashish on , and .

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