Yesterday I nearly had a heart attack. I’m working on a book project, you see, and everything – the first nine chapters and all my notes and outlines – are on a flash drive. But when I arrived at my super-secret writing hovel, I only had the cap with me; the business end of it was gone.
What the hell, man?! I tried not to panic, but after I retraced my steps and went through the car with no positive results, I could feel my heart start to pound in my chest.
It’s an expensive flash drive, covered in rubber and supposedly capable of surviving a nuclear attack, or whatever. That’s great, and all, but the bastard will bounce. I’ve dropped it before, and watched it get air and go sailing across a hedge.
Yesterday there was snow on the ground, so I was walking along – in the beginning stages of a freak-out – looking for a flash drive-shaped hole in the crust.
But I wasn’t panicking for the reasons you might suspect. I didn’t care if the drive was ruined, or even gone forever, I just didn’t want it to end up in some stranger’s hands. And that’s because everything on it was also saved in my Dropbox; all my important files were safe.
In fact, if the writing hovel had internet access… I’d never have to use a flash drive again. Dropbox goes a long way in making those things as quaint and obsolete as floppy disks.
And it’s free! I’ve been using it for a long time, and love it. Once you sign up, and download the program, you have access to a new drive, where you can keep whatever you want. You start with 2 gigs of space, and can earn more as you go.
It looks like you’re storing information on your computer, but it’s actually in “the cloud.” Meaning, it’s out there somewhere – encrypted. So, if your hard drive shits the bed, or a piece of space junk falls on your laptop, it won’t be as painful as it might’ve been two or three years ago. ‘Cause all the important stuff is saved, off-site.
Also – assuming you have an internet connection – you can access the files from multiple computers. If you’re, say, writing a book about being an idiot in the 1970s, and find yourself wanting to work on it from two or three different machines, it’s no problem. Just open the file in Dropbox, do your thing, and save. Then it’s there, the next time you want to work on it – wherever you happen to be.
While I was writing my previous book, I’d have multiple versions of the same file, on various computers. I’d start working on what I believed to be the latest version, and realize it was an earlier one. Then there would be profanity. With Dropbox there’s just one file, accessible via all your computers.
You can also easily share files. You just log into your control panel, find the specific item, and generate a URL for it. Then you can email it to a friend or colleague, and they’ll be able to access it from their end. No more emails with giant attachments…
Plus, there’s a great app. I was sitting in Pep Boys a few days ago, proofing my book manuscript on my phone, while the car received an oil change. It’s fantastic.
And it’s all free. There’s a paid version, which gives you tons of additional space, but I don’t yet have a need for it. I have a lot of stuff in my Dropbox, and am using just 2.7% of the available space. Unless you want to store massive amounts of photos, or video, the free version is more than adequate.
Here’s your link. Dropbox is Surf Report approved! It makes life simpler, and might just save your ass. If I’d lost my flash drive while I was working on the previous book, I would’ve been screwed, and might’ve flatlined, right there on the sidewalk. But yesterday, as stressful as it was, I at least knew my files were retrievable.
For the record… I did find the thing, eventually. It was inside a pocket, which I never use, on my laptop bag. I’m not sure how it ended up there, and have made the decision to not waste any energy trying to figure it out. Life’s too short.
Pass the beer nuts.