Great Free Cloud Apps – Dropbox

Promising a focus on productivity and useful apps for business, we are pleased to Blog today about one of our favourites, Dropbox.

If you ever find yourself constantly copying files onto USB, or reaching for your phone’s connection cable to copy files back and forth, only to realise you forgot something, or the drive doesn’t work when you get home, then you need Dropbox.

Dropbox is a very simple and secure file sharing and synching tool. You can install Dropbox on your PC, in fact, on all of your PC’s and phones and tablets. This places a folder under your Profile or your My Documents, called My Dropbox.

BASIC USE

All you have to do to start using this simple tool, is to copy your files into your Dropbox folder, you can even create any folders you like under your My Dropbox, as shown above.

All these files and folders then synch automatically up to the Dropbox server, nothing  more to do. You can access your files then via your browser at http://www.dropbox.com, or by installing Dropbox on your home or work PC, your Android phones and tablets.

It’s that simple!

Although, it doesn’t stop there.

FILE SHARING

One of Dropbox’s major strengths is the ease at which you can become a file sharing master. You see, Dropbox allows you to share a file or folder to anyone, simply by sending them an email, which it does for you!

Simply right click any file folder in your Dropbox, go down to Dropbox, then Share The File or Folder. Click on that, enter in the email of the recipient, and voila! They will then receive an email, if they don’t have Dropbox, it will install for them (and give you an extra 250MB for sharing), synch your files up with your recipient, and you have it. Now anything either one of you place in said shared folder, will be automatically synched back and forth!

As mentioned above, every time you send an invitation to somebody not already using Dropbox, you BOTH gain 250MB in data!

A useful tip for file sharing for business, is in the case of an Accounting Practice, where it’s difficult to obtain client files quickly. Traditionally these are sent in by CD or USB stick, and can take a while to receive. Not anymore, simply setup a secure Dropbox folder for your clients, then anytime you need their files, simply ask them to place a backup file into the Dropbox.

The uses for Business are seriously endless.

WEB SHARING

If you ever find the services of “free” file sharing hosts a bit daunting or insecure, then Dropbox has you covered there as well.

Under your My Dropbox folders you will find a Public folder.

Anything placed under the Public folder can instantly be shared to anyone in the World, even posted on websites, by right clicking the file and selecting Copy Public Link. It’s that simple.

Post up your Public Link on to your email, forum, blog or website for anyone with the link to open or download the file.

DROPBOX FOR ANDROID

So of course, the reason for this review being on my Android Blog (N-droid.net), is that Dropbox For Android is the perfect companion for your Droid.

Whether it be a phone or tablet, once you start Dropboxing you just can’t stop! Useful for toting around your Uni Assignments, Work Presentations, Music Library or favourite images.

Access all your files on all of your devices!

Dropbox-Android-App-2[1]

Best of all, Dropbox is free! You can pay for more storage, but why not invite all of your friends, and grow your storage limit for free!

Dropbox is available on the Google Play Store here or you can scan the QR below

Happy Dropboxing!

What Is The Cloud And Why Small Business Needs It

Put simply, “The Cloud” or “Cloud Computing” is the crux of the internet. Using resources enabled via the internet, which are actually running in a remote data centre, 24/7, monitored round the clock by a team of professionals on hardware your business could most likely never afford.

For this reason, The Cloud is the great enabler for Small Business around the World. The Cloud provides access to systems and services at a fraction of the cost of purchasing software in the traditional sense. This is an economy of scale of course, and you will be sharing resources with thousands of other users at any one time. The cloud is also often referred to as “SaaS”, or Software as a Service.

It is the enablement of access to or use of a platform or software services, as a service. In most models, the access to the service is “rented” or paid for on a subscription service rather than purchased outright in the older model of purchasing and owning software.

This provides access to powerful systems and software, connectivity and communications, that previously, a business would have had to invest large sums of money to run their own VPN, or Virtual Private Network.

There are two types of Cloud, Public and Private, as detailed in a previous article. Essentially a Public Cloud is the most common and chances are you are already using this service. Think Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, Internet Banking even travel bookings. These are all forms of Public Cloud. Private Cloud on the other hand is where a business may have specific requirements from their Cloud provider, hence rent space to load up or provide access to, specific software for their business. Hybrid Cloud is when a business uses parts of both Public and Private Cloud.

Here are some reasons Small Business should be seriously considering The Cloud.

1. Economy

By making use of Cloud Services, a business can save substantially on Capex (Capital Expenditure), and invest in developing sales programs or staff training. Essentially why would a small business make such a large investment in hardware that will simply age, cost a fortune to maintain, and eventually only have to be replaced in some years anyway?

2. Speed

Cloud Systems are often run in Class 1 Data Centres on the very latest hardware and software centres, with professional installation and maintenance; plus access to fibre based communications platforms and direct access to the internet backbone. What this means for the Small Business user, is fast and instant access on any device they are carrying.

3. Accessibility

Whether the business owner wants to provide staff with laptops, netbooks or iPads, in many cases, Cloud Systems will be available as an “app” on all of these devices and due to this, the business and its staff are now empowered to travel and not be bound by the office walls.

4. Reliability

What happens in a Small Business when the Server goes down? Everyone downs pens and stares at each other. This is not only counter productive but also costly to the Business Owner or Manager, who will usually now have to call the IT Services company, wait for a Technician to arrive, then foot the bill once they leave. Usually the only explanation is, “there was a hardware failure”, or ” your server has a virus and will be down for two days”. How would you cope in that situation? Cloud Providers run many failsafe hardware layers and most provide a SLA (Service Level Agreement) of 99% uptime or better. This means more access more of the time when you and your staff are out on the road.

Small Businesses across the Globe are accessing The Cloud at an alarming rate. Vendors are increasing capacity all the time and investment brokers are clammering to provide enough funding to build The Cloud.

With providers such as Microsoft, Google, IBM, Cisco, Reckon and more behind this movement, SMB’s can relax and focus on their core business, and leave the IT headaches to someone else to worry about.