5 Dropbox tips to help shine a light through the cloud

26 Sep 2016

Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Dropbox has almost become a byword for when we talk about the cloud, but many of us still aren’t making the most of the service. Here are five tips to help break the cloud cover.

While the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have the financial might to run their own large-scale cloud storage services, Dropbox remains the most household name for the average web user.

With 500m active users and 1.2bn files uploaded daily, the company is now well-established, despite recent fears over the platform’s security capabilities.

Future Human

The platform itself appears quite easy to use with users able to click, drag and delete files and folders in the same way that they can on their own computer.

Yet many out there are unfamiliar with numerous small features often hidden beneath the simple user interface that could make your life a whole lot easier.

Bring back items from the dead

Sometimes we can be a bit overzealous when it comes to keeping house, resulting in files being lost when they could be useful at a later stage.

Thankfully, on Dropbox, there is a feature that allows you to retrieve deleted files within 30 days, or indefinitely if you have access to Dropbox Pro.

By clicking ‘Deleted files’ on the main page, you can search through your recently deleted files and restore them to their former glory.

Additionally, it gives you access to older versions of documents if you want to go back to square one on a particular project.

Digitise your paper mountain

If you are meticulous with your paper records, whether it is with receipts or business documents, it might be useful to get them digitised, thereby preventing any potential disaster in the future.

Using the Dropbox mobile app, it is now possible to scan document after document onto the cloud using your phone’s camera.

By pressing the add document button on the user interface (a ‘+’ symbol), you can select the option to scan a document and have a digitised version of the same document.

Dropbox’s software should be able to pick out the document from the surrounding background and clear it up so that it looks exactly like a scan should, rather than just an image of the document.

Very useful indeed.

Document scanning

Using the Dropbox app to scan a document. Image: Dropbox

Any requests?

If you and a few of your snap-happy friends have just come back from a holiday, one person might want to collate all those photos in one handy Dropbox folder.

This might prove difficult if some of your friends either don’t have a Dropbox account, or are just slow about getting the photos over to you.

Thankfully, one of Dropbox’s latest tools overcomes these obstacles by allowing the folder creator to send a direct link for people to upload photos.

In doing so, the process is simplified and prevents the need to ask people to set up accounts if they don’t already have one.

A very helpful Chrome extension

There are some little gems out there on Google Chrome that have been developed by third parties and which work very well with Dropbox

Among these plug-ins are QuickDrop, which links with your Dropbox account to create a drop-down menu to access files that little bit easier in any tab, rather than constantly visiting the website.

It only takes a second to link accounts and QuickDrop is quite responsive, with the additional feature of being able to right-click an image in Chrome and save it to Dropbox instantly.

Definitely something for regular Dropbox users who might be guilty of opening far too many tabs in their browser.

Get some more free space, for marginal leg work

If you sign up for a free Dropbox account, you’ll see that you have 2GB of space to play with, which might not seem like much if you plan on using it extensively.

There are some options out there to boost this space and, with a small amount of leg work, can see your storage limit increase by a few gigabytes.

Dropbox has gamified its account upgrade process, starting from upgrades of 125MB that can increase as high as 16GB.

For some of the lower bonuses, challenges include writing feedback to Dropbox about its service or even just following the company on Twitter. Perhaps the easiest one of all is to accept a tour of the service from Dropbox netting you a nugget-sized 250MB of storage. Refer a friend to start using Dropbox and you can earn 500MB per friend, up to a limit of 16GB.

Dropbox on a tablet. Image via Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic