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  1. #1
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    TOP STORY

    Dropbox: File synching and sharing made easy


    By Michael Lasky

    There's no shortage of services offering file sharing, synching, and collaboration through the Internet.

    But one service stands out from the rest. Dropbox is one of those simple applications that, once installed, quickly become an indispensable part of your computing process.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/10/28/01 (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by revia; 2011-01-19 at 14:46.

  2. #2
    New Lounger
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    Maybe I am missing something here, but i find a major flaw in Dropbox. It seems to require the user to copy a file to the Dropbox folder in order for it to sync. That implies that the user is conscientious enough to do that regularly whenever he saves a file.

    I currently use Microsoft's soon to be discontinued LiveMesh which really does work in such a way that you do not have to remember to do anything. Once you designate folder to be backed up to the "cloud" any changed in that folder are automatically backed up. Granted it doesn't have all the bells and whistles that Dropbox has, but it is truly a mindless system. Unfortunately they are dropping support for XP in March and i am not upgrading.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    I have a VBScript that will identify files changed during the previous day and add them to a (password protected) zip archive (see post #861935). This presumably could be scheduled as an overnight task. If saving the Zip archive in Dropbox's local folder would magically mirror it to the online folder, it could be a relatively hassle free way to automate an offline backup. Certainly easier than figuring out how to do an unattended FTP transfer. I might just have to test it out...

    Update 10/29: Only tested this for one night so far, but it's magic.

  4. #4
    New Lounger
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    I thought I read recently, in an article about a Firefox add-on that would sniff out local wireless logins, that Dropbox connected with an encrypted link, but once that was over, the connection was unsecured. While the files I keep in Dropbox are of no concern, I'm interested in the password vault app. Would it be vulnerable like Dropbox?

  5. #5
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    Sending your files to someone else on the "cloud" is one of the biggest security risks you can possibly do! Unlike when you are handling everything behind your own security, you are dependent on other people to keep your data secure. After the Patriot Act, companies can send anything to any government and in many cases, any corporation that wants your data. Call me paranoid but I have already seen someone burned by saving to an Internet storage service. An unethical political candidate acquired documents from the opponents online storage which were very damaging. The Executives were paid off and refused to cooperate with an investigation which ended up being dropped. If this person had kept everything behind his own security, this would never have happened. I will not use any service like Dropbox because it's an unacceptable security risk! If the government or corrupt corporation wants your files, they can get them if they're in the cloud. Your best bet: Keep your files to yourself! I will not be using any file storage online ever and I suggest all of you come to the same conclusion. Learn how to sync your own files and back them up on your own removable drive that you know where it is. Don't compromise your security or your life by saving to the cloud! Dropbox?...absolutely not dude!

  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    I have two desktops & the reason is that I once had a crash and lost everything on my (then) one computer, so I bought another with the idea of backing up everything on #1 to #2. I have downloaded dropbox and being a fairly dumb operator can't work out how to drag a file and drop it into dropbox. I'm sure it must be simple but I would appreciate a liitle guidance. Thanks

  7. #7
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Morse III View Post
    I will not use any service like Dropbox because it's an unacceptable security risk! If the government or corrupt corporation wants your files, they can get them if they're in the cloud.
    Dropbox says that "Dropbox employees are not able to view any user's files." And "files stored on Dropbox servers are encrypted (AES-256)." Nevertheless, you can download your files from any browser, and share files with others by giving them access to your online folder. To accomplish that, Dropbox must hold the decryption key. That does seem to open the door to access by law enforcement (with a valid subpoena or otherwise) and third parties.

    (In my testing, I've been uploading encrypted zip archives, so just having the file shouldn't be of much use to a third party.)

    I don't think you can necessarily tar all online storage providers with the same brush. In testing Mozy, I was able to confirm that if you set your own encryption key in the backup client software, the files you can download from the site require that key. Thus, if a third party were to gain access to them, they should be tough to crack. For more information on the Mozy tests, see the thread [topic=773906]Warning about Mozy Online Backup[/topic].

  8. #8
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Les Hawkins View Post
    I have downloaded dropbox and being a fairly dumb operator can't work out how to drag a file and drop it into dropbox. I'm sure it must be simple but I would appreciate a liitle guidance.
    On your desktop, do you have a new icon that looks like a blue box with four flaps open? That's a shortcut to the synchronized folder, which by default is buried somewhere in your [My] Documents folder. Files you add to that folder will be uploaded automatically. Any luck?

  9. #9
    New Lounger
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    I have used Microsoft's Windows Live Sync and its predecessor for years and never had to think about it--the files were just there. Since this is being replaced, and I received a suggestion from someone I know to try Dropbox I did. Unfortunately I made a mistake during setup. I agreed to let Dropbox connect with my Twitter account. This allowed someone to hijack my Twitter address and use it to send SPAM messages. That's when I also realized that the message I received from my friend was generated by Dropbox. Caveat Emptor.

  10. #10
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    I agree with Riwri1's comment about the major design flaw in Dropbox being that files to be sync'd need to be in the Dropbox folder which means you either have to do it manually or organise your folder structure around Dropbox.

    The approach I've taken is to develop a little Access 2007/VBA app which allows you to specify which folders/files you want to sync into Dropbox and then some VBA code which is run by the Task Scheduler during the day (as frequently as you want) to compare timestamps and then copy into the Dropbox folder from where it can be sync'd. Initial testing has been good.

    If anyone is interested in it drop me a line and once I'm happy with it, I'm happy to make it available.

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