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Dropbox: A Simple Syncing Solution

Dropbox: A Simple Syncing Solution
dropbox

    Over the years, I’ve tried syncing my computers any number of ways, from trusting my entire life to a flash drive to uploading everything to Google Docs. Very few options have been idiot-proof enough to make up for my abilities to misplace things, forget to update file versions and generally fail to double check that my computers are all in sync.

    I need a forgiving synchronization method — something that doesn’t require me to initiate back ups or juggle versions. Dropbox seems to be that method. I’ve actually been using it for over a month now and have encountered an impressive lack of problems.

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    Wikis and Security

    I use a wiki (TiddlyWiki, to be precise) to handle a lot of my projects in progress. No matter what system I use to keep files in sync across computers, I have to have reliable access to my wiki. I’ve considered using one of the many sites willing to host a wiki for me, but I’ve had some questions about the security of such sites that have yet to be answered.

    Dropbox has handled my wiki with no problems. Considering that TiddlyWiki creates a new file every time you save your changes, that can be impressive. Checking up on the file on the Dropbox website in preparation for this post, I discovered that my wiki was not only up to date — about 100 other files were also up to date if I wanted to double check old saved versions. Dropbox simply saved each one of them, without my having to click boxes or mess with the file.

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    Because of my security concerns, I also took a good look at Dropbox’s privacy policy and security measures. The team behind Dropbox seems to share my paranoia: all file transport occurs over SSL and files are encrypted with AES-256 before they’re stored on the site’s backend. So far, users can’t specify their own private key, but I’m content with the measures that Dropbox has taken so far.

    I had to hunt around the site a bit to find Dropbox’s privacy policy. It’s mostly on par with privacy policies for similar services, though it is directly focused on the personal information that a user might supply for their profile — information associated with public files, forum posts and the like. Users’ files are not a matter for the privacy policy because Dropbox doesn’t mess with them. My files are encrypted before even someone at Dropbox could mess with them. I’m more than willing to trust Dropbox on both security and privacy.

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    Sharing Photos With My Mom

    We all have those friends and relatives whose approaches to the internet require absolute simplicity. Anything much beyond ‘click this link’ just doesn’t fly. It can make sharing files, from photos to documents, interesting at best. But Dropbox also allows users to establish a shared folder. Within that shared folder, you can put any kind of file, and get a link that you can provide dear old Mom directly to that file.

    Admittedly, there are plenty of other sites for sharing photos. But I’ve had to get everything form Powerpoint presentations to PDFs to my mom and I’d rather not explain a new site every time, or have to fuss with something different each time either.

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    Dropbox has also worked quite well for projects where I’ve needed to share files with group members. A few services have more bells and whistles, but for files other than the standard .doc, Dropbox has been ideal. It’s also much easier to stop sharing a file with Dropbox than with other services — I just drag it out of my public folder.

    Drag and Drop Paradise

    Dropbox has a great web interface. But the real use lies in the Dropbox application. You install it just like any other piece of software and it launches a Finder window or an Explorer window — there isn’t an Linux version yet, but Dropbox is working on an alpha version. Dropbox works just like any other folder: you can drag and drop files, which are then automatically synced across any computers you’ve activated and installed the software on, as well as the web interface. There are no problems sharing files between Macs and PCs, either — as long as you’ve got the appropriate software to open a file already installed.

    I’ve had no problem working on files while offline, either. Dropbox just updates my files whenever I have internet access. This actually came in handy over the weekend when Amazon’s S3 service went down. Dropbox relies on S3, so there was no synchronization during the outage. But I was still able to edit my files in the meanwhile and, as soon as S3 was back up, Dropbox matched up all my files. According to forum members on the Dropbox site, the application was even able to pick up right where it had left off in the middle of partially uploaded files. Having that sort of outage is a heck of a test for a web application, but Dropbox seems to have managed quite well.

    A Few Invites

    Dropbox is still in private beta, although they seem to be fairly nice about handing out invites to those that request them. I’ve got five invites, according to my account, though, and I’m more than happy to send them off to LifeHack readers. I’ll email the invites to the first five commenters on this post.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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