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Sharing files using an online cloud storage provider can provide many benefits. Convenience, productivity, selective sharing, integration, and access anywhere/anytime are the most prominent benefits to using a cloud storage provider. There are many different cloud storage providers such as: Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, and more. I will be covering Dropbox, because it provides an excellent implementation of every one of the benefits that I have listed.

 

Dropbox allows you to easily integrate their services with a variety of different operating systems. Dropbox can be accessed through an internet browser; however, it supports integration with Mobile, Windows, Linux, and more. This means that essentially whatever platform you are using or have access to, you will be able to access your Dropbox files. With Dropbox integration, you will be able to edit files in a local Dropbox folder even without an internet connection (files which were synced last time you had an internet connection) and they will automatically sync and update next time you are reconnected.

In order to upload Files, you may simply copy them to the Dropbox folder or upload them on the Dropbox website. Once files are uploaded they are automatically synced across devices using the most recently modified version. Sharing is quite simple as well; to share files from your integrated Dropbox folder, simply right click your file(s)/folder(s) that you want to share and click the “Share” button with the Dropbox logo next to it. The process is similar for the web interface. On the web interface you can click the “New share folder” button to either create a new folder and share it or share an existing folder. Alternatively, you may check the box next to your file(s) or folder(s) and click the “Share” button. Once you have chosen which files or folders that you want to share, you will be able to set the limitations of who can see your shared files and what they can do with them. More specifically you can choose the email address of whom you want to share with, if they can edit or just view, or alternatively choose a link that people can access the files with. Dropbox plus has additional features such as password protected links or expiring links. Once you have shared your files or folders, the person with access to them may do whatever they want with the files, within the permissions which you have assigned.

Dropbox may also be used for seamless real-time production. This is useful for group/team projects, so people may work on the same document simultaneously without worrying about overwriting someone else’s work by uploading and replacing a file. To do this, simply click on your document to open it and click the “Open” button in the top right corner. From there you may choose “Paper” to use Dropbox’s editing tools, or you may use the “Microsoft Online” feature which integrates Microsoft’s online office suite with Dropbox.

 

There are many different cloud storage providers, but I believe that Dropbox is the best choice for the average user. It offers a variety of useful features and provides stellar integration with many different platforms. Dropbox has all off the characteristics and features necessary to be an extraordinary cloud storage provider, yet it remains shockingly simple. It just works.