Getting Started With Dropbox Part 1 : The Best Free File Sharing Option

D ropbox is a great web based file hosting service. It supports Windows , Mac, Linux , iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android too. Dropbox l...

Dropbox is a great web based file hosting service. It supports Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android too. Dropbox let’s you carry your world with your pc or mobile wherever you go. Don’t miss anything! Store easily, carry everything and share instantly! The basic concept of Dropbox is, if you store any file under “Dropbox” folder (which will be created after installing Dropbox software) then the file will automatically be stored in all of your device if they are also connected with Dropbox. So you can simply have all of your data stored anywhere you want. Those files will also be stored in Dropbox website and you can check them using your log in information. So you need not to worry about carrying your PC everywhere and also will never be a victim of data loss! It’s the best and easiest method for online file sharing we have ever found. It allow users a lot of features which are merely available on paid service too. If you are a Noob with Dropbox, you can check our basic Dropbox Guides Here. In this topic, we are focusing on Dropbox’s getting started problems and F,A,Q’s. So get ready and join us after the break.

List Of Contents

  1. What are the system requirements to run Dropbox?
  2. How do I sync files between computers?
  3. Is there a limit or maximum to how big my files can be?
  4. What types of files can I store on Dropbox?
  5. Where are my files stored?
  6. Will files I put in Dropbox be synced across other machines even if they're offline?
  7. How do I undelete files or recover old versions of files?
  8. Can I have Dropbox sync files outside my Dropbox folder?
  9. How do I upgrade to the latest version of the Dropbox application?
  10. How much space does my Dropbox have?
  11. How do I link to files in my Dropbox?
  12. What is the Photos folder for?
  13. How much longer until Dropbox is finished uploading/syncing?



What are the system requirements to run Dropbox?

Dropbox On PC

The Dropbox application runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems. To run the Dropbox application on your computer we recommend:

  • At least 512MB of RAM
  • Free space on your computer equal to your Dropbox storage quota.
  • Windows 2003, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 (32 and 64-bit).
  • Mac: OS X Tiger (10.4) or later.
  • Ubuntu 7.10+ and Fedora Core 9+.

Dropbox on mobile phones

Dropbox is also accessible via several mobile devices:

iPhone App

  • iPhone (any model) or iPod Touch.
  • iOS v3.1 or later.
  • All video features require a an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or the latest iPod Touch with a capable video camera.
  • An Apple ID to access the App Store.

Android App

  • Android OS 1.5 (Cupcake) or higher.
  • 2MB of free space on the device.
  • A SD card of any size.

BlackBerry App

  • BlackBerry OS 4.5 and up.
  • Music playback is supported on devices with BlackBerry OS 4.6 and up.
  • Video/audio format support varies depending on device and OS version.


How do I sync files between computers?

The Dropbox application will automatically sync to the Dropbox website and any other computer(s) linked to your account as soon as it notices a change in your Dropbox folder. There is no sync button or need to set up any custom settings. You don't have to do anything.

Once your files are synced, you can access them directly from each of your computer's hard drives or over the web using the Dropbox website. For example, say you saved your document in the Dropbox on your desktop computer at home and wanted to access it on your laptop at a local cafe. Simply hook up to the Internet from your laptop, check your laptop's Dropbox folder, and there it is! It is the easiest way to make sure your files are up-to-date and accessible anywhere. No matter which computer you use, the files will appear the same, or synced, wherever you go.


Is there a limit or maximum to how big my files can be?

Files uploaded to Dropbox via the desktop application have no file size limit. Files uploaded through the website (by pressing the upload button) have a 300 MB cap. In other words, each file you upload through the website must be 300 MB or less.

All files uploaded to your Dropbox must be smaller than the size of your Dropbox account's storage quota. For example, if you have a free 2 GB account, you can upload one 2 GB file or many files that all add up to 2 GB. If you are over your storage quota, Dropbox will stop syncing until you are below your limit.


What types of files can I store on Dropbox?

You can store all types of files in Dropbox. Dropbox loves all files, regardless of type. Almost anything you save to your computer can be saved to your Dropbox, including all of your documents, movies, music, photos, internet downloads... You name it.

A warning regarding metadata and FAT32 drives

Some documents have file attributes, or xattrs, in data attached to the file. We call this data metadata. Operating systems use metadata for many different ways: storing the icon, labeling your documents, attaching information to the file, permissions, etc... Dropbox supports xattrs on all platforms. However, thumb drives, and portable drives use the FAT32 file system do not support metadata. If your Dropbox folder is on a FAT32 drive, unfortunately it is impossible to retain metadata when the file is moved or renamed.

Turning on xattr support in Linux

Some Linux distributions have xattrs turned off by default. If you are running a Linux distribution with an ext3 or ext4 file system, it is possible to turn on xattr support, typically through your /etc/fstab settings file. Please refer to your Linux distribution's documentation for instructions.


Where are my files stored?

If you've installed the Dropbox desktop application, your files are stored both on your computer (in your Dropbox folder) and on Dropbox's secure online servers. All files stored online by Dropbox are encrypted and kept securely on Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) in multiple data centers located across the United States. You can find more information about Amazon S3 or learn about Amazon S3’s security measures on the Amazon website.


Will files I put in Dropbox be synced across other machines even if they're offline?

Computers that were offline (disconnected or powered off) when files were changed on another computer will automatically receive the most recent changes to files (and send any of their own updates) as soon as they reconnect to the Dropbox service via the Internet. You also don't have to worry about shutting down Dropbox while a sync in progress - it'll simply resume where it left off once your computer is back online.


How do I undelete files or recover old versions of files?

Dropbox keeps snapshots of every saved change in your Dropbox folder over the last 30 days (or more with the Pack-Rat feature). So if your pet accidentally pressed the delete key and erased your memoirs or you simply saved a bad change, you can restore the file with a few clicks.

On Windows 7

You can find a list of previous revisions by right-clicking the file from your desktop. Hover your mouse over the Dropbox submenu and select View Previous Versions....

The Dropbox context menu
Choosing View Previous Versions... from the context menu

Clicking on View Previous Versions... will take you to the Dropbox website to view old revisions. From there, you can follow the website instructions below to recover an old version or even undelete a file removed by accident

From the Website

To find the revision list online, click on the file from your Dropbox home page and select Previous Versions from the drop-down menu.

Restoring a Previous Version

Once you click on Previous Versions, you'll be sent to an online list of the various snapshots Dropbox has taken during the history of the file. When you see the file you want to restore, select the radio button next to the file and press the Restore button.

The Dropbox website context menu
Restore previous snapshots from Previous Versions on the website

Restoring a Deleted File

To recover your memoirs, simply click the Show deleted files link from the file browser at your Dropbox home page.

The Dropbox website context menu
Restore previous snapshots from Previous Versions on the website

All deleted files will show up in gray. Once you see the deleted file you want, hover your mouse over it and click on the arrow that appears to the right of the file. Select Restore Files from the drop-down and it will reappear in all of your synchronized Dropbox folders.

Advanced Way

Going Way Back in Time With Pack-Rat

If recovering files becomes a recurring issue, you can upgrade your account include the Pack-Rat feature. Doing so gives you unlimited snapshots of your files, allowing you to go recover any file as far back in time as you like. Find out more about Pack-Rat.

Restoring a Missing File From Cache

If you've lost a file, please try to locate and restore a deleted file using Dropbox's built-in undelete feature first. However, if you still can't find or open a lost file, you may be able to recover it from your Dropbox cache in an emergency.

Dropbox keeps a hidden collection, or cache, of your files as backup storage. Files in the cache folder are stored there often after they are moved or deleted after syncing. If you can't find your file using all other practical methods, you can try to recover the file from Dropbox cache as a last resort. The Dropbox cache will keep your files for up to three days after they have been moved or deleted.

The Dropbox cache folder is hidden in your Dropbox application settings. To rescue a file from your Dropbox cache, follow these instructions:

On Windows Vista and Windows 7

  1. Open a new Windows Explorer window by clicking on the Start menu > My Computer
  2. Type or copy and paste the following code into the location bar at the top of the window and press return:


  3. This will take you directly to the Dropbox cache folder in your Application Data folder

    The Dropbox cache folder from Windows Explorer

  4. Recover your lost file by dragging it out of the Dropbox cache folder

If the file is not in the Dropbox cache folder and doesn't show up as a deleted file on the website, then the file is most likely and unfortunately lost. Please note that Dropbox will never move or delete a file unless told to do so by the user. In most cases, lost files are simply misplaced or unwittingly removed by other users with access to a computer's Dropbox.


Can I have Dropbox sync files outside my Dropbox folder?

Right now, Dropbox will only sync the files in your Dropbox folder. However, there is a way to sync a folder using Dropbox and still access it from outside your Dropbox folder. For example, say you want to use Dropbox to backup a folder and make it accessible from all of your computers. However, you still want to be able to access it from its current location. In this instance, you can move the folder you want Dropbox to sync into your Dropbox folder and set up a shortcut (Windows), alias (Mac OS X), or link (Linux) to access it from its former location.


How do I upgrade to the latest version of the Dropbox application?

If you want to have the latest stable version of Dropbox, you don't have to do anything! Dropbox will silently update itself in the background. To tell which version of Dropbox you're using, simply hover your mouse over the Dropbox icon in your system tray. A small dialog box will appear with the latest version. You can also find the version number by visiting your Dropbox preferences and selecting the Account tab. The Dropbox version number appears in gray. If you don't have the latest version yet, don't worry! Auto-upgrades are rolled out over the course of several weeks after a new update is available. We're very conservative about auto-updating. We never want to risk breaking a working version of Dropbox.

Manually upgrading

If you haven't been upgraded (or aren't sure) and you're ready to go, simply install the latest version of Dropbox from the install page.


How much space does my Dropbox have?

You can check how much space you have left on your Dropbox via the account info page. When you sign up for a free Dropbox account, we'll give you 2GB of storage space. Deleted files and previous versions of files don't count against your quota, but any shared folders you have joined do.


How do I link to files in my Dropbox?

Dropbox designates a unique internet link to each file in your Dropbox Public folder. You can send these links to anyone by pasting them into your emails, instant messages, web pages… Any method you like. First, you'll have to make the file available to anyone by moving the file you want to share to the Public folder located in your Dropbox.

On Windows

If you have the Dropbox application installed on your computer: once the file is in your Public folder, simply right-click it once to open a menu. Choose Dropbox > Copy public link

The Dropbox context menu

On the Website

If you are using the Dropbox website: once you’ve uploaded or moved the file to your Public folder, move your mouse over the file so that it’s highlighted. To the right of the file, click on the triangle that appears when the file is highlighted. Choose Copy public link from the resulting menu

The Dropbox website context menu

Your Dropbox's Photos folder also has public links too. You can copy and send gallery links in a very similar way. However, while all files in your Public folder have a public link, only the folders, or galleries, in your Photos folder have public gallery links.

Now that you’ve copied a link to your file to your computer’s clipboard, you can paste it wherever you want as many times as you like! Links are re-usable as long as you haven’t moved or renamed your file since you copied the link.


What is the Photos folder for?

The Photos folder is more than just a convenient place to store your photos. Creating subfolders in your Photosfolder automatically creates online galleries you can share with friends and family. To help get you started, your Dropbox comes with a sample album/gallery pre-installed called Sample Photos. Create more photo albums by simply creating or dragging a folder full of images into your Photos folder. It's much easier and faster than uploading your photos to a photo site or emailing photos in bunches. To view and share your slideshows online, you'll need a link. Here's how to get it:

On Windows 7

  1. Put your vacation photos (or any images) you want inside the Photos folder in your Dropbox.
  2. You can organize multiple galleries by creating subfolders, or albums, within the Photos folder. Do this now by right-clicking inside the Photos folder and selecting New... > Folder
  3. Right-click on the new or existing folder and choose Dropbox > Copy public gallery link to copy a link to your computer’s clipboard

    The Dropbox contextual menu and Copy public gallery link
    The Dropbox contextual menu and Copy public gallery link

  4. Paste (Ctrl-V) the link into your email program, instant message window, etc. to send it to your friends.

On the Website

  1. Log in to your Dropbox account
  2. Hover the mouse over the Photos folder or subfolder until a gray arrow appears
  3. Click on the gray arrow and choose Gallery view from the file browser menu

    The Gallery View link from the Photos folder menu
    The Gallery View link from the Photos folder menu

You’ll now see the online gallery version of your photo album, with a button to copy a link near the top of the page.

If you and your friends and family are really clever, you can share a photo album (share a folder inside the Photos folder). Think of it as a great place to collect and share your photos together as a group. Everyone will have a copy of each other's pictures from your latest Vegas trip, family event or wedding, etc. Not only will you never miss a moment, you'll also be sharing the high-quality original images.


How much longer until Dropbox is finished uploading/syncing?

You'll know when files and folders in your Dropbox are finished uploading when the rotating blue sync marker turns into a green sync marker. You can also check the overall syncing progress by clicking the Dropbox tray/menu bar icon:

On Windows 7

The Dropbox icon is in your System Tray:

During Syncing

Finished Syncing

Right-click the Dropbox icon during syncing to see if your Dropbox is uploading or downloading and monitor the transfer speed, the number of files remaining, and the estimated time until completion.

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