Digital files, accessible from anywhere?
October 23, 2010 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Question for Graphic Designer types: What's the best solution for secure and reliable online storage, with 24/7 access from a desktop/laptop (Mac, PC and Linux), smart phone and/or mobile device and the web, for gigabytes of graphic design files? These files include various large image formats (JPG or TIF), Indesign, Word and Illustrater files, etc, etc. Bonus points if this secure and reliable service allows people to seamlessly add files to a public folder, either via drag and drop or email.

I do freelance graphic design work for print. A lot of times, after a client has given me files or I've sent them files, they'll ask for the files again, because they've misplaced them/delete them/it's easier to ask me. However I bounce between multiple computers and devices through the day, from desktop systems, both Mac and PC, to mobile devices and smart phones, so I don't always have access to those files. Is there a service that you know of or use that provides that always available access?

I've been messing around with Dropbox and I like it, particularly the way it syncs the various folders between devices, while you can still use the files on any specific device. The price is nice. I'm hesitant about moving all my work into it though. Is is secure and reliable enough for that? Are there any particular problems to watch out for?

Is there a similar service that you use? Does it include a way for clients to email or drag and drop files into a public folder. I get a lot of YouSendIt files, and the having to leave an email client, to go to the web and then download it, to open it in another app seems really inefficient. Auto placing of large graphic files in folder of online storage seems like a no brainer, but what service is doing a good job of providing that?
posted by nomadicink to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I really hate yousendit, rapidshare, etc. I've been using Dropbox for pretty much exactly what you describe for about a year now, and it has been fantastic. No outages yet, good customer support via a very active forum, a clean, usable website, etc. etc. Creating folders and sharing with clients is quick, clean and easy. (I got turned on to it by a client, actually) Generating a link for email is also 1 click, pretty much.

I use it to sync my work machine, my Powerbook & my home machine. You can do thing with aliases & symlinks too, like for instance my Things database. If I can ever get around to figuring out how to make it sync Safari bookmarks and Address Book contacts, I'll probably drop my old .mac account.

Also, it's reliable enough in that you have actual local copies of everything, even if it does go down. It's not like you're working directly from "the cloud."
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:07 AM on October 23, 2010

I also use Dropbox, which has been pretty reliable. I initially used the Apple Me iDisk but it is incredibly unreliable, at least for me. It freezes my home computer and is regularly down even for web access. So far, Dropbox's only issue for me has been that the amount you get for free isn't quite enough, but I will most likely switch to a pay account.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 8:30 AM on October 23, 2010

I use Dropbox for everything, and find it very reliable. I was just looking around to see if there is a public interface for uploading data, and didn't find one; but there is this very useful tool for sharing a file using another program called airdropper ( )
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:52 AM on October 23, 2010

DropBox uses S3 for the backend, if that helps answer any questions about availability/robustness.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:45 AM on October 23, 2010

Dropbox. It's reliable, and I use it from all my home/office PCs and Macs, my iPad, and my Android phone, so it's accessible from a variety of platforms. The public folder is excellent for getting large files to other people without sending them to a sketchy-looking filesharing site, BUT - that public folder is really only for you to give a download link to other people. That link is permanent as long as you leave the file in that folder. I don't believe there's a way for other people to upload to it without giving them access to your Dropbox account. There are other programs out there that add features to Dropbox, though, like the previously-mentioned Airdropper.
posted by katillathehun at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2010

Dittoing Dropbox. Plus you can set up a form on your server that allows clients to share files with you (depositing them directly in your Dropbox). I find this soooo much easier than yousendit and ilk.
posted by EL-O-ESS at 11:07 AM on October 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't believe there's a way for other people to upload to it without giving them access to your Dropbox account.

It is actually ridiculously easy to create a folder an share access to just that folder with another user.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:51 PM on October 23, 2010

Dropbox. Rock solid and has allowed me to be able to freak out about synching files. I also like the fact that there are dropbox add-ons to make it even easier to use on other machines. Been using it for collaborative projects and so have been able to share large folders.
posted by jadepearl at 4:59 PM on October 23, 2010

Response by poster: 15 Hacks Every Dropbox User Should Know has some interesting tips, including a way to use Gmail to upload files to your Dropbox account. There are also various add-ons which add different capabilities to Dropbox. There's a Windows application, Maildrop, which works with your email to upload attachments to Dropbox.

Thanks all, for the advice.
posted by nomadicink at 6:29 PM on October 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

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