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 Dropbox File Sync
 
 
Dropbox File Sync
 
With an increasing number of people owning more than one computer, the issue of keeping all your files synchronized on all your devices has become increasing difficult. A quick internet search soon reveals a myriad of programs which all try to solve this problem. After testing pretty much all of them, we didn't find a single one we could whole heartedly recommend.

Unfortunately Dropbox isn't the all encompassing file sync solution we were looking for either. It's not Free but Proprietary, limited to 100GB, doesn't run as a Service, can't sync permissions, and has no option to let you run it on your own server. Running multiple accounts simultaneously on the same computer isn't possible either. That said, what Dropbox does do, and what it was designed to do, it does very well. If you're a home user, or very small business, and need to synchronise the most commonly used files between your computers, then it could still be the right solution for you.

With a little cunning and inventiveness, Dropbox can also be used to sync your applications too. Using Portable Apps, such as Firefox Portable, you can synchronise and update all the software on all your computers simultaneously! Using DropboxPortableAHK turns Dropbox itself portable, and in doing so opens up the possibility of having multiple Dropbox's on the same computer. This can be especially useful to computer administrators who need to support multiple Dropbox users, by giving them remote access to a users documents and software, even when their computer is switched off.

Another 'trick' lets you sync any folder on your computer rather than just your Dropbox folder. This can be done by moving the folder into your Dropbox, and then creating a Junction Point from it's original location to it's new location in your Dropbox. Junction points redirect one folder to another folder transparently. One of the easiest ways to create them is to use a piece of software such as Link Shell Extension or NTFS Link; both of which are free.

It isn't perfect, but Dropbox's simplicity makes it easy to use and some of its shortcomings easier to overcome. As such, until a credible alternative comes along (Bitcasa, SparkleShare?), Dropbox may well be your best bet. If your unsure whether Dropbox is suitable for your particular requirements, why not give us a call and find out?

2012-03-01 Update : Dropbox has now released Dropbox for Teams. While storage is increased to 1TB for 5 users, the update does not address many of the concerns listed above. In particular, it is still not possible to sync file and folder permissions.
 
 
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