Monday, May 4, 2009

Virtual thumb drive - Syncing and sharing files between computers

This week, using Twitter, I discovered about a service called Dropbox. The company offers a service to synchronize and share files between users and multiple computers. The analogy is a virtual USB thumb drive.

You simply download a thin client that lives on the system tray, it creates a special folder in your hard drive called Dropbox, and everything that you put in that folder is syncrhonized accross all the computers where you installed the client. Also, if you want to share files, you can dedicate another folder within the dropbox folder, to share with specific friends. Oh, and it also has a web interface where you can access your files, in case you are in a public computer that doesn't have the client.
The service gives you 2GB of free space, or you can pay $99/year for 50GB. Files are uploaded into a server in the Internet, and that's how you achieve backup and synchronization.

The initial target market for the service is individuals with multiple computers that want to easily share files. I use it for synchronizing some file between my home PC and work MacBook. Also, it seems to cover some of the SMB market too, where small offices share common files. However, there are no group account, each individual would have to pay for the service to gain access to the 50GB.

The product positioning can probably be improved, and I am sure it will come as the product matures: group accounts offering a discount for the service are a must for the SMB market; ISP and Service Provider alliances are probably another option; I don't see a fit for advertisement other than in the main portal.

For a good article about Drop Box on Techcrunch:
Dropbox: Now Effortlessly Syncing Files For 1 Million Members


Rafaga said...

Take a look at Sugarsync...very similar service, but their focus was sync from the start, as opposed to dropbox which had backup as their initial focus. They also have iPhone and BB client.

Leo Boulton said...

I did see Sugarsync, have not tested it yet. Not sure if it is as simple as Dropbox, but that's what I like about it the most: it is very very light, does only one thing, and does it very nice: to me, it's a virtual thumbdrive, not a backup or even a synch folder. It's a very simple and easy way to shared files accross platforms.
I wll download and test sugarsync.... I just don't see value on the iPhone and BB client since I don't use them for files

Jose Uzcategui said...

Great post - I was curious about the difference between this and the many online places where you can upload and store data. The folder on your desktop where you can just drag and drop sounds much more convenient...

Can you work directly from the dropbox directory or do you have to move the files to your computer?