Dropbox is awesome. I assume you all know this. As a backup, data syncing, and sharing solution, they’ve got their competition whipped*. I’ve been a Dropbox user for years, and haven’t spent a single thought on backup since. Also, since you can use a Dropbox account on many devices, we use Dropbox for all our shared data: our “Shared” folder simply syncs to both of our laptops through Dropbox, and all changes are available to us both, and instantly backed up. Sharing large files with other people? Right-click, Share, and it’s done.
Even better: Dropbox supports reverting to a month’s worth of previous versions of all your files out of the box. Every save is synced to the cloud, so if you ever make an unintentional edit, or accidentally delete a file, you can simply retrieve the correct previous version. With the Pack Rat addon, which I’ve bought, the one month limitation disappears: I can retrieve unlimited previous versions of all my files, and it doesn’t even count towards my storage limit.
Now Dropbox has one major limitation: it supports only a single synced Dropbox folder. Within that folder, there are no limitations, but you can’t select multiple root folders. If you want to use Dropbox to backup and sync your documents on D:, but also want some of the data on your C: drive synced, you’re out of luck.
For instance, I have several programs for which I want have backups of their settings in case I have to reinstall them. Some programs support re-routing their settings folder to a different (Dropbox) location, but others (Scrivener among them) insist on saving their settings to the cursed AppData folder. I had to dig into the arcane SymLinks technology to get my precious settings into the Dropbox folder.
And then I bought a NAS to store our ever-expanding GBs of shared data, and suddenly the one-folder limitation became a major issue.
Boxifier is a small and excellently designed little application, that integrates seamlessly with Dropbox, and allows you to add to your Dropbox every single folder you want. Boxifying a folder is a simple matter of right-clicking it and selecting Boxify. A Boxifier shortcut to the folder is then added to the Boxifier folder inside your local Dropbox folder, and the selected folder is synced to your cloud Dropbox folder. But on your local system, the folder stays right where it is!
For instance, if I have my Dropbox folder on my D: drive, and I have a NAS drive N: with a folder Movies where I save all my entirely legally obtained movies, I can Boxify the Movies folder, and this will be the result:
- Cloud: Dropbox\Boxifier\Movies\<all my legally obtained movies>
- D:\Dropbox\Boxifier\<Boxifier shortcut to Movies>
- N:\Movies\<all my legally obtained movies>
This way, Boxifier removes the only important limitation to Dropbox, making the combo entirely unbeatable in the cloud storage arena.
And even better: I’ve spent last week configuring my NAS and working out how to set up my cloud sync through Dropbox and Boxifier, and Boxifier support is incredible! They’re quick to respond, friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable, and had a documented answer available to every question I could come up with. If you’ve read any of my rants about customer service, you know how highly I value good support. And Boxifier is up there with the very best.
Boxifier isn’t (always) free, in particular if you want to sync network drives. But frankly, for the quality of the app, and for their awesome customer service, I’d beg them to take my money.
* OneDrive? For one, it’s Microsoft, which means that while it does what it’s supposed to, its footprint is huge. For another, it’s so tightly integrated with Office that it’s useless for home sharing through the cloud unless everyone uses the same Microsoft account. And Google Drive is, well… Google. I’m not that eager to let them get their hands on even more of my data than they already have. And WeTransfer is simply made redundant by Dropbox’ sharing feature.
Update after five years: I’ve been off Dropbox for a long while, after a price hike drove me into the arms of Microsoft and OneDrive. However, OneDrive is so consistently bad in all respects, so extremely slow, unreliable, error-prone, and all-round stupid, that I’m now back to paying the price of Dropbox+Boxifier, and moving away from OneDrive once more. In retrospect, what Dropbox asks for their service is a fair price for the quality they offer. And while OneDrive comes free with a Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) subscription, the old saw about peanuts and monkeys applies to Microsoft’s terrible, terrible cloud storage solution as well.