Tag Archives: Dropbox

Dropbox Uploads (Needlessly?) Consume Available Space On Phones

I notice that the Android Dropbox app, when uploading a file to the Dropbox server, first copies the source file to a cached file in a hidden folder on your phone’s system storage. Then it uploads the cached file to the Dropbox server.

Why? I don’t know for certain. Maybe the app developers wanted to ensure that the source file isn’t altered or deleted during the upload process. First caching the file is a conservative tactic. 

So what?

The cached file consumes precious system storage space on your phone. On my phone with 8 GB system storage, this is significant.

Regain lost storage space

To regain that space, delete the Dropbox cache. You can do this from within either the Dropbox app or Android’s settings (Applications, Application Manager, scroll down to Dropbox and press the Clear Cache button).

Dropbox explains that Dropbox’s cache folder is hidden.

It would be nice if the Android Dropbox app allowed the user to choose whether the Dropbox app first cached the file before uploading it. Oh well, no app is perfect.

Create your own cloud.

I use Dropbox every day. If you’d like to have Dropbox features but don’t trust them to protect your data or want a special feature, you can host your own Dropbox-like server with open source owncloud.org. It enjoys a great reputation and receives frequent updates. I plan to try it, but I’m not in a hurry, since Dropbox works fine for me.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Dropbox adds two-factor authentication option.

Drew Houston, Dropbox founder & CEO
Financial Times photos, Cropped:Puramyun31
Make it much harder for a thief to open your Dropbox.

I’m a big fan of Dropbox. I use it every day. It seems like magic when I update a file on my PC and retrieve it later on my smartphone. It’s been criticized for lax security, but I find that as long as I use its web interface to maintain my set of synchronized hosts and open Dropbox web sessions, it works fine.

Now Dropbox offers two-factor authentication. Its simple form works with any cellphone that can receive SMS messages. Its more complex form runs the Google Authenticator or equivalent app on your smartphone to generate a unique time-sensitive security code.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Use Dropbox plus Keepass to store your passwords.

As long as you can connect to the web, you’ll always have all of your passwords.

Dropbox.comA while ago I wrote an article about Dropbox and its competitors. Recently, Dropbox has been criticized for having compromised too heavily in favor of convenience rather than security. Used prudently, Dropbox can be safe. (Periodically, use the Dropbox web interface, go to Account, then My Computers, and delete the names of any computers that you neither recognize nor use any longer.) If you store 2 GB or less, Dropbox is free of charge. I use it with Keepass Password Safe to store my dozens of passwords.

Keepass.infoKeepass stores your user names and passwords in a single encrypted file (which it calls your password safe). If you save this file to your Dropbox folder, your passwords are protected by both your Keepass password and your Dropbox password. Be sure to use strong passwords to protect both Dropbox and Keepass. Don’t forget your Keepass password; there’s no way to recover it if you forget it, and it holds the keys to your kingdom.

It works on Linux, too.

Dropbox has several Linux install packages available for download on their website. Keepass works flawlessly when launched with Wine 1.2.3. Dropbox for Linux integrates with the gnome file manager, so on an Xubuntu machine (which replaces the gnome desktop with the Xfce desktop) I’ve had to tweak the Dropbox install to work. I’m still working on this: it seems to be working, but I’m not sure what I did to make it work!

The Android version works, also.

August 2012 update: I installed both Dropbox and KeepassDroid on my new Android phone. They work nicely. My passwords remain synchronized across my Windows and Linux PCs, and now my Android phone.

Use for hundreds of passwords

I use Dropbox + Keepass to store not only my dozens of passwords, but the passwords of many clients, as well. Within Keepass, you may create groups and sub-groups, as shown below, to organize all of your passwords in easy-to-understand hierarchies:

Interior view of somebody’s Keepass password safe

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Synchronize files with “the cloud”

“Cloud computing” can store and help you synchronize files on multiple laptop and desktop computers.

The trendy term “the cloud” simply refers to the Internet. (Schematic diagrams display the Internet as a cloud.) There are a number of companies that offer file synchronization services. Most offer a basic service for free and charge money for enhanced services.

One of the leading players in this market is Dropbox. Maximum PC recently suggested 15 clever ways that Dropbox can be used to provide other services. Strong competitors include SugarSync and MemoPal

A nice thing about all these services is that you can use them to synchronize files between geographically diverse sites. You and a colleague who’s located thousands of miles away can work together on a sales proposal in almost real-time: pretty nice for zero cost.