3 benefits to using Dropbox for Small Biz

Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...

Dropbox is a worthwhile program for anyone, but it is especially valuable to small businesses for both organizational and marketing purposes. Dropbox is a file hosting service that allows users to share and store data—mostly programs and folders—over the web. This comes in handy for a variety of reason:

Benefit #1: Convenient Backup System

Backing up files on Dropbox, such as payroll records and logo art is much easier than burning CDs or constantly updating a backup hard drive (though it would be wise to do that every now and then still).  Once you sign up for the service and have an account, Dropbox creates a self-titled folder that has two folders inside: Public and Photo.

Uploading a file to the Public folder will allow that file to be accessed by the owner of that account on any other computer with Dropbox. For example, you can copy and paste a doc. file onto the Public folder on your home machine and access it from your work computer by installing Dropbox on that machine and logging in. Photo performs the same function as Public but for pictures.

Using Dropbox goes beyond just backing up files, too. Do you have documents or programs that need to be shared amongst employees in an office setting? Don’t bother with email. Just make sure that the machines have Dropbox installed and are that they logged into the same account with a shared username and password.

Best of all? The program is free—well, a basic account is anyway. If you need more than 2 GB of free space, you’re going to have to pay depending on how much data you need (50 GB is $9.99 a month; 100 GB is $19.99).

More information about pricing plans can be found here.

Benefit #2: The Contents of Your Dropbox Are Easy to Share

Interested in advertising your business to potential customers without your carefully constructed ad ending up in the spam folder or quickly deleted?  Well, the first step is to create a page on a social networking site, preferably Facebook and branch out.  After that, copy and paste the link to whatever file you wish to show off (a brochure, a menu, a flyer, a press release, etc.) onto the Facebook page. You also want to take care to make sure that whatever file you’re uploading will be accessible by the majority of users, so it would probably be better to upload a PDF version of a flyer than a Publisher version.

Why should you do this instead of just uploading the image to Facebook? A good question. The answer: a better visual. Many times the Facebook picture manager will compress whatever image the user is trying to upload and sections of that image can become pixelated, rendering that portion ugly or difficult to read. Uploading your link to Dropbox removes that issue entirely.

Here’s a visual example of how to link to a doc file.

Dropbox public files link

(1) Go to the Public folder and right click on the file you wish to link to. (2) Go to the Dropbox option and hold the cursor over it until a side menu appears.  (3) Choose “Copy public link.” (4) To test the link, go to the URL bar in your internet explorer of choice, highlight it, and press CTRL +V. An address resembling http://dl.dropbox.com…. should appear. Press enter and you should be given an option to download and view the file. (5) After testing the document, paste the link into your Facebook status and inform your potential viewers what you’re linking them to—again, a menu, a brochure, a deal—so that they’re not suspicious.  And that’s it. NOTE: Linking to PDF images in your Public file will make the PDF show up in the internet browser so that the user doesn’t have to download anything. So if you’re uploading something visual, PDF is probably the best way to go.

Benefit #3: Dropbox is Now a Mobile App

Have an iPhone or an Android? Do you meet potential clients frequently? Dropbox might be worth getting on your phone as well. If someone asks you for my business about your company, you can simply request the client’s email and immediately send him a link to a file that will answer his question(s) instead of waiting to get back to a computer and possibly forgetting to email him.  Besides being able to organize the contents of your Dropbox and being able to change your account preferences, you can also upload pictures and videos from your phone to the folder.

Unfortunately, there is no text editing software yet, so you cannot edit a text already in the folder or create a text and upload it to the Dropbox. Still, if you already have a Dropbox and a data phone, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t have Dropbox since it’s free. You can download the Ipad/Iphone Dropbox app here.

To find out more information about Dropbox and to set up your account, visit the website.