Dropbox for Writers


For those who write on the computer, two issues are constant:

  1. What’s the latest version of my work?
  2. How can I back up my work so that if my computer crashes, I won’t lose it?

The answer, if you’re computer savvy, could be version control such as Subversion, or Git or Mercurial (which is what I currently use to store my writing). But the barrier to entry with those systems is steep. Probably impenetrable to people unfamiliar with the command line.

Enter Dropbox a fantastic, simple and free-to-use system that is perfect for keeping your writing.

Dropbox creates special folders on your computer — Mac, Windows or Linux — that watch over the files you keep. They look and act exactly like other folders you might have, with the exception of small status icons on the folders and files within them. You simply create your folders in any hierarchy you want, put your files in and then work as normal. When you add a file, it is automatically synced with the Dropbox servers. So, it gives you automatic backup.

But even better: when you open a file in your editor, type or edit your text and then save it, Dropbox silently uploads a version of your file to its servers. You continue working and hit save again, Dropbox does its thing. Always in the background, your work is automatically backed up.

More than that, though, it is keeping versions of every save you make. Did you accidentally delete a paragraph? No problem, go online to their website and grab an older version. Did you accidentally delete a whole file or folder? No problem. Go online and restore.

Need to share a file with a collaborator or group? There’s a public folder, and you can share the URL via email.

And if you work on two computers, Dropbox automatically syncs both of them for you so that your writing is wherever you need it to be.

Best of all, Dropbox is remarkably simple. You don’t have to do anything but work, and it takes care of the rest. You don’t even need to understand how it works, unlike the systems I mentioned above. And if you have under 2gb of files, the service is free. Additional storage is available, a generous 50gb for $99 a year.

Easy, free, and it can save your ass. What could be better? Check out the video on their webpage for more information.

(Photo by Flickr user helveticaneue)


Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: December 9, 2008 05:39 PM
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