Do you recall early 2011 when my computer crashed (just as I was poised to complete and deliver a killer project) and I almost lost all of my data? (Click Here to see that column).
So I started looking around at various alternatives, including SugarSync and Carbonite, and I ended up going with DropBox. I have to tell you that I have never looked back. I LOVE this tool.
The idea is that you install DropBox on your computer. As part of this you create a DropBox folder somewhere on your system (I put mine in the My Documents folder). Then you drag-and-drop any other files and folders you want to take care of into your DropBox folder. From that point on you are “hands off” – your precious data is backed up into the Cloud.
Now, when you create a new file in your DropBox folder, or edit an existing file, as soon as you click the Save button, the copy on your system is immediately backed up. You can easily share any files or folders in your DropBox by right-mouse-clicking on them on your system and selecting the appropriate option, after which the copy in the Cloud is made available to whoever you wish to share it/them with. The great thing about this is that you aren’t emailing multi-megabyte files around.
If your computer does happen to crash, you can use a web browser interface on any other machine to access your files in the Cloud.
But wait, there’s more, because if you have multiple computers, you can load DropBox onto all of them. As soon as you use one of your computers to “touch” a file in the DropBox folder on that machine, those changes are bounced up to the Cloud, and from there back down again into your other machine(s). If your other computer(s) are powered-down at the time, then the next time you wake them up, the first thing they do is to resynchronize themselves.
I tell you, this is a wonderful idea. In fact I’m using it as we speak. I’m currently commissioning a new notebook computer. You know what it’s like; you think you’ve loaded all of the software you need, then as some critical time you discover that you are missing a vital application. So I have both my new notebook and my old one sitting on the desk together. Most of the time I’m using my new machine, but if I suddenly find I need to use a graphics program I’ve not loaded, for example, I can spin round to my other computer, create the required image, save it into my DropBox folder, and watch it immediately appear in the corresponding location on my new machine.
Of course there are always things you would like to change. For example, it would be nice to not have to drag everything you wanted to backup into your DropBox folder … you sort of get used to having things where they are. A better idea would be to be able to right-mouse-click on any file or folder anywhere on your system, and select some option like “Make this a DropBox File/Folder”, which would cause it to be backed-up (and auto-updated in the future) without moving it anywhere.
Another issue is the amount of data you can store. I’m cheap (grin). I went for the FREE account which allows me to store up to 2GB. This is perfect for my working data, but after all, this is mostly word-processing documents and web-resolution images. So although I personally am VERY HAPPY with my free DropBox account, this would not be sufficient for any sort of business / engineering environment. All of which brings me to SafeSync…
So here’s the deal… I recently ran across the guys and gals at Trend Micro (or maybe they ran across me), who introduced me to their SafeSync family of products (www.SafeSync.com).
They gave me a live (over-the-web) demonstration, and I have to say that I was very impressed. They responded to every feature and function I asked about by saying “Oh yes, we can do that, watch this…” at which point they proceeded to show me.
This really is very tasty. If you go to www.SafeSync.com you’ll see that they offer both Home and Business versions of SafeSync. My interest at this time is the Business version.
Check out the following chart (I’m sorry it’s a bit blurry -- I had to shrink it down but you can get all of this data from their website). Now, I understand that charts like this are always going to be a bit self-serving, but you can’t argue with the fact that SafeSync
allows you to run your own data center (if you wish), which DropBox
don’t support (iCloud
, and Carbonite
do). Similarly, you can password-lock files with SafeSync
, which you cannot do with DropBox
, or Carbonite
(this is supported by SugarSync
Let’s consider an example scenario. Suppose we have a medium-sized engineering firm of 70 or so people working on bespoke, one-off projects. As a result, they often end up working with external partners to support the overall project delivery. As with any engineering / manufacturing company, they need to share and move around very large CAD and CAM files, as well as a bunch of day-to-day work files. The bottom line is that they require a solution that will make the sharing of these files – both internally and externally – quicker and more efficient.
If they are like the folks I know, they will have tried playing / experimenting with the following options:
- An FTP Server: Too complex for use by non-technical folks and too time consuming for use on all of the day-to-day work files.
- Emailing: Very often the CADS / CAM files (and other files) are simply too large to email. Plus this sort of thing can quickly consume all of the space on the mail server.
- USB drives and DVDs: I can’t tell you how many CDs and DVDs I’ve cut. USB drives are a lot quicker and easier, and they are relatively cheap these days, but shipping the result is expensive and time-consuming (it can take days), and it’s a mega-pain if you are trying to share the data with multiple sites. Plus, the speed with which things change these days mean that the data on the USB / DVD is almost certainly going to be out of date before the package has even left your facility. Also there’s a security risk if a USB / DVD goes missing in action.
- Online File Sharing: There are tools that are OK, but it has to be said that uploading and downloading the files is a hassle on a good day – plus it’s so easy to forget to upload the latest version of something. Once again, I cannot tell you how many times in my career I’ve discovered that I’m working with a different version of a document to my colleagues (although I prefer to think that it’s they that are working with a different version to me [grin]).
Let’s further assume that our example engineering company embraces a teaming environment, which means that sharing and collaborating on projects is very important to them. In a very competitive field, however, it is critical to keep proprietary documents secure.
Would you be surprised if I told you that SafeSync for Business
addresses all of these issues? It allows users to securely share links with anyone, whether they are in the company, a partner or a vendor. These links can be password protected and expiration dates can be set to further improve privacy and security. The user can also manually break the sharing link at any time.
The “Team Folder” feature acts as a hosted file server, allowing users to post and share files with other groups as they wish. In addition to this, the changes to these files will be automatically pushed down to each person sharing the document, so everyone always has the current version.
I tell you… when I look back even a few years, these sorts of capabilities were beyond my wildest dreams. I could waffle on about this for hours, but if you are interested in learning more, why not simply bounce over to the www.SafeSync.com
website and root around to your heart’s content.
Meanwhile, I have to get back to commissioning my new computer…
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