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Monday, February 6, 2012

Dropbox - A Great Tool For Students

Last semester I was working on my final thesis project, which in the Advertising department is set up as a group project. I was working with three other students.

Now, I've heard all kinds of complaints about group projects, but the one thing aside from personal or work-related issues that's always problematic is finding meeting times. The more people there are, the worse it gets to try to coordinate with everyone's school, work, and personal schedules. This was especially true in this case, since one our team members lived slightly over an hour from UT.

In the end, this meant we frequently had to coordinate our efforts remotely. Between texting, long and unwieldy email threads, and random Facebook messages, it could get really difficult to keep up with the conversation, especially when you didn't know WHERE the most recent exchanges had taken place. The first thing we did to help this problem was set up a Facebook group. This was extremely useful in that it kept all our communication about the project in one place that was easy to check and get notifications from. Unfortunately, it didn't eliminate the email threads, since we still had to have a way to share files with each other.

Enter Dropbox.


Dropbox is, basically, a free cloud service - it lets you upload and download files easily from any computer. Most importantly, though, it allows users to share folders, automatically updating the files for everyone when one person saves changes. Not only that, it tracks who was the last person to save any file, and keeps all previous versions so that you can revert back if there is a mistake.

The one real downside is the limited amount of space; however, there are several things you can do to expand your limit for free, including referrals,* and I was able to grow mine fairly easily just by posting to Facebook. Also, it allows students to get double the amount of space per referral (500MB instead of 250MB). Once you've signed up, go to www.dropbox.com/edu and add an .edu email address to get the extra referral space.

This was quite possibly the best tool I have ever used for a group project, and is perfect either for school or for anyone who ever uses more than one computer. Stop emailing files to yourself or carrying around a jumpdrive that can get lost or broken - use Dropbox.


*Yes, I've used my referral link in this post. If for some reason you don't want to use that, the main website is www.dropbox.com.

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