Dropbox is one of our favorite apps here at 40Tech. The traditional use of Dropbox is to make files, such as photos and documents, available on any computer you use, or even on your mobile phone. But if you think outside the box (bad pun intended), Dropbox can be used in other ways to make you more productive when away from your main computer. Read on for a few suggestions.
Make a Desktop App Portable
You can use Dropbox to make some desktop apps portable. The exact way of making this happen will differ from application to application. For example, I do this with Moneydance, a finance application. I have Moneydance configured so that its data file is located within my Dropbox folder. I have Moneydance installed on my other computers, too (the license allows this), and have them look to the Dropbox folder as well for the data file. Whenever I make changes in Moneydance, the data file is updated, and synced to all of my computers via Dropbox.
Backup Files and Folders Outside of Your Dropbox Folder
One of the limitations of Dropbox is that normally you only can sync/backup folders that are located in your Dropbox folder. If you want to sync or backup files or folders without moving them to the Dropbox folder, you can use symbolic links. A symbolic link is a file on your computer that points to another file, much like a shortcut. Programs can interact with the symbolic link, as if they were interacting with the destination file. Set up a symbolic link to the files or folders that you want to backup up, and place that link into your Dropbox folder. Dropbox will see the link, and jump over to the actual file or folder. For step by step instructions on setting up symbolic links in Windows, OS X, and Linux, check out the Dropbox Wiki.
Keep Passwords in Sync with KeePass
We’re big fans of LastPass here at 40Tech. One of the features we love is the way that LastPass keeps your passwords in sync between computers. Prior to finding LastPass, I did give open source KeePass a whirl. Online syncing of passwords between computers can be achieved with KeePass, in conjunction with Dropbox. Install KeePass normally, and set up your database, and then move it to your Dropbox folder (File > Save As). On subsequent computers, open the KeePass database from the Dropbox folders, and you should be all set. Just make sure that you close KeePass whenever you’re done with it, so that it will update any changes that you’ve made to your passwords. (Disclaimer: it’s been several months since I made my switch to LastPass, so I haven’t test this for quite some time).
Do you use Dropbox? If so, what creative uses have you found?