By in Tutorials

Using DropBox or a Cloud Drive

DropBox Or Other Cloud Storage - What?

Cloud Storage, for example DropBox, is storage that is available on line. It's rather like those storage boxes you can rent if you have too much furniture for your house, or are moving between houses, except that it's on line (in the cloud) and you access it, not by road but by uploading and downloading information, exactly like sending an email or a photograph to a relative.


Everyone on here is using or accessing a computer of some kind, whether it's a phone, a Tablet, a laptop or a desktop PC. Some of us use them all at different times. Our computers (whatever kind) store our memories (photographs and videos) our documents (emails, letters to the bank, poetry, articles for Personapaper, etc) and our programs and apps (software for improving photographs or word processing a fantastic article) and a lot more. Computers can fail. They can crash or get old. If your computer crashes, you may lose some of that important data, like the photograph that means something special or your tax return or an email from someone. You need to back up your data. You can do that by copying it to CD or DVD or an external hard drive, or to a cloud based service.

Why Bother?

Here is an article I wrote about digital rot and how your storage devices may not keep your data safe. If your computer does not have enough storage space for all your data you might store some of it in an external hard drive or thumb drive but if that is your only copy, you may find that the device can crash or become unusable. So you need to keep 2 copies. By using a cloud based storage service, THEY keep your data safe and you can access it from anywhere.

Using DropBox

I am covering dropbox because I have it and so can talk about how it works. Others are probably just as good, once you get used to using them.

With Dropbox, you get a new folder on your Windows Explorer list of folders. It's called "Dropbox" - Duh! Everything in that folder gets automatically saved to the cloud as you write it. So that folder can exist on your computer AND your laptop as well as in the cloud and that means you can access your data wherever you are, at home or out and about.

Only Saved IF in DropBox Folder

The data is only saved to the cloud if it is in your dropbox folder, so rather than have to remember to put things into the dropbox folder, I do ALL MY WORK in Dropbox. That Drop box folder on my computer opens out to show several folders inside. I chose all the names and I work in each one as necessary. This is the Dropbox folder on my PC. On my laptop there are fewer folders because it has less memory but all those folders are still safe in the cloud. And I can (and have) accessed them from elsewhere too, such as my daughter's computer.

(c) MegL my own photo

Image Credit » (c) Megl my own screenshot

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CoralLevang wrote on January 3, 2016, 6:47 PM

I have to come back to this. I now Ihe dopbox....but it's how to use it that I'm not sure of.....I'll figure it out..thanks for writing this.

Question: If I drag all these folders of pictures and files over to the dropbox icon on my screen, will this automatically save them to the cloud? AND, does it then get taken out of the HD memory, if it is in the DBox

Not sure if I am asking that the right way, MegL I hope you understand the question I am asking. LOL

Last Edited: January 3, 2016, 7:19 PM

markgraham wrote on January 3, 2016, 7:42 PM

I have used Dropbox for my Master's work and also have it on this new computer. I like it and it is working so far.
It is a lot of work but I still like hard copy and making a binder of all my work. That way I always have it.

VinceSummers wrote on January 3, 2016, 8:32 PM

I'll reflect on all this, as I do have valuable data I do not wish to become lost. However, I want no one else gaining access, either. So I suppose I'd have to pick and choose.

wolfgirl569 wrote on January 3, 2016, 9:46 PM

I still think it is at risk through them crashing or getting hacked. For that reason I dont think its worth what many of those cost

Rufuszen wrote on January 4, 2016, 12:13 PM

Not really sure why, but I've always felt dubious about using the cloud. Not that I've got anything secret, but these cloud drives seem open to 'hacking'

MegL wrote on January 4, 2016, 1:33 PM

If you drag them to the Dropbox folder, they will stay there on yourcomputer AND be uploaded to Dropbox, so you will have a saved copy on line. If you want to free up space on your hard drive, you66 will either have to delete something or transfer it to an external hard drive but make sure you have 2 copies.

MegL wrote on January 4, 2016, 1:36 PM

I have all myfiles in the dropbox folder so it's no different from working normally.

MegL wrote on January 4, 2016, 1:43 PM

There is a possibility of hacking butthen, someone who is determined to gain access might be able to hack into your computer. Afterr all NASA has had its computers hacked and a number of other big companies you might think would have the latest security! My university frowns on the use of dropbox because they say people can download a virus that way. But they approve the use of microsoft one drive. I have that too, though just for my university studies and not much on it. All important stuff on dropbox and a copy on PC and laptop.

MegL wrote on January 4, 2016, 1:46 PM

You can get a lot of this storage free. For instance your ISP provider may give you a free allocation. You can get 2Gb free with dropbox, etc. You could use 2 different providers, hopefully both would not crash at the same time.

MegL wrote on January 4, 2016, 1:49 PM

So are personal computers, including government computers. There are encrypted things you can use, so even if you are hacked, they cannot read the stuff.

VinceSummers wrote on January 4, 2016, 1:49 PM

Yeah, they could conceivably hack in. But what notoriety would be achieved? You would not be likely to read in U.S.A. Today, "Vince Summer's has had his computer hacked by (fill in the blank)." I'm much more concerned of the possibility of a hardware crash.

MegL wrote on January 4, 2016, 1:52 PM

Then some kind of backup is vital. Whether an external hard drive or cloud storage. It doesn't really matter as long as you USE it.

VinceSummers wrote on January 4, 2016, 2:56 PM

Point well taken. I DO have a second, independent hard drive in my computer, though it is both old and small.

WordChazer wrote on January 5, 2016, 3:07 PM

I use Google Drive in the same way. My actual laptop has next to naff all on it - shortcuts and programs. One of my Google Drive accounts on the other hand, is linked to this machine, has all my writing, quite a chunk of my free music (because it is next to impossible to store free music safely on iTunes because the bots delete it; they think it's illegal) and a fair bit of other work which comes and goes as I need. My other Google Drive account is the one I use on the go, synched to my phone and available whenever I need to access it there. Of course both are also accessible on the other device if I have forgotten to copy something across.

MegL wrote on January 5, 2016, 3:12 PM

Your laptop must work at blistering speed then, with very little on it. I cannot quite bring myself to put it all up in the cloud, in case i am stuck somewhere with no internet connection. With DropBox, I can work offline and it will update itself whenever the internet is available again.

WordChazer wrote on January 5, 2016, 5:11 PM

My cloud drives both work offline too, and also on foreign hotel wifi. by laptop or phone The only time I can't access cloud files is when I'm on the phone abroad without wifi, as my phone's overseas roaming prices preclude that. Otherwise whether I'm on laptop or phone, I can access them. I am going to run a major backup to flashdrive soon though, just to make sure I have everything, once I am done sorting out my folders for the nth time.

Paulie wrote on January 6, 2016, 2:13 AM

Thanks for sharing a very good tutorial. I definitely will look into Dropbox.

lookatdesktop wrote on January 6, 2016, 3:20 PM

Great article. Two thumbs up from lookatdesktop. I know who I can count on for updates about the cloud.

MegL wrote on January 6, 2016, 4:23 PM

Lol. Thank you.

RuthCox wrote on January 9, 2016, 3:23 PM

A friend recently mentioned that he uses DropBox so it was good to read your explanation of it here. I might have to check it out!