Dropbox is a cloud based file hosting service which allows its users to store files and folders on the net and even share it with others.
To use Dropbox you must first register an account and download the Dropbox desktop client. This will create a Dropbox folder in your Documents folder. The same Dropbox folder will be present in your account on the Dropbox website. Any files or folders you paste into the Dropbox folder on your PC, will automatically get uploaded to your Dropbox account. Hence, if you are working on multiple computers but you wish to access some files on all your systems then you can simply add those files to your Dropbox folder and they will be uploaded to your Dropbox account. Sure, Google Docs does provide the same functionality, but only with documents. If you wish to have access to say videos, music or pictures irrespective of the system you are working on then the best solution would be Dropbox. Any changes that you make to these files, in any of your computers, will be automatically reflected in all your Dropbox folders in all your computers. So no hassles of having to repeatedly email them to yourself or use pen drives to transfer them.
It also acts as a great place to back up your important documents which you can access from anywhere. If you are working on your friend’s system and you wish to access some files from your Dropbox folder, then you can simply log onto the Dropbox website and download those files from your account. If you start working on a new system and you wish to have access to all the files from your Dropbox account, then simply install the Dropbox desktop client on the new system and it will download all the files you have on your Dropbox account into your Dropbox folder on the new system. And this file syncing works irrespective of the OS on each of your systems. It could be Windows, Mac or Linux. A great way to sync files.
Inside the Dropbox folder you can create how many ever new folders you want. All these folders will get synced with your Dropbox account on the Dropbox website which in turn will sync it with all your Dropbox folders on all your systems.
Dropbox is also a great way of sharing files. You can upload the files that you want to share onto your Dropbox account and share that folder with your friend through his Dropbox account. And even if your friend doesn’t have a Dropbox account and doesn’t wish to join, no sweat. All Dropbox accounts are provided with a public folder. Any files you put into the public folder can be shared with a non-Dropbox user. You can simply send the link of that folder to your friend via email or chat and he will be able to download those files onto his system.
As with any cloud based system, this requires a good broadband connection to work efficiently.
A basic Dropbox account is free to use and provides 2 GB of storage space. If you want more storage space, you can upgrade your account to a Pro 50 or Pro 100 account, but this would cost you 99$/year or 199$/year respectively. But, with a free account, you can extend the storage capacity up to 8GB, by inviting your friends to join Dropbox. For every friend who accepts the invite your storage capacity increases by 250 MB!!
Dropbox also has a host of other features including an in-built versioning system. Users are also coming up with innovative ways to use Dropbox as highlighted in this article.
Here is a video explaining the concept behind Dropbox in a simple way.
Here is another video explaining some of the features of Dropbox. This video was done when Dropbox was still in Private Beta, but it still gives a very good ideas of its capabilities.