Of course, you’ve heard of Dropbox. It’s a simple idea but it’s a game changer. It’s a piece of software that creates a folder. It stores anything you put in that folder in the cloud and on every computer on which you have installed Dropbox and it keeps all of these different folders in sync when the computer carrying them is online.

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It’s so useful I have set it as the default save location in my Wordprocessor. It deals with the vexed problem of backups by ensuring that I have the file in Dropbox on that computer, on any machine I log in on later and in the cloud. I can access the files through the Dropbox website. That said,  I don’t rely on it for all my back up needs. I also use Time Machine, Back in Time and their ilk. I store work in progress on CDs/DVDs and USB thumb drives and external hard-drives as well. This is in part because I am paranoid and in part because I live in justifiable fear of having half a novel suddenly vanish into disconnected electrons on a failed hard-drive.

Of late, there has been some controversy about Dropbox’s security and potential access by employees. These are completely justified in some ways and totally irrelevant to me. I think anybody who keeps personal, critical data unencrypted in the Cloud is mad. I keep the text files of works in progress in my Dropbox. If someone wants to expend the effort to hack my Dropbox account to read some disjointed scenes from a half-completed novel by an obscure Scottish writer– good luck to them. If they are capable of it, they can probably find much more profitable uses for their time and talents.

Dropbox is one of those programs which has had a subtle but definite effect on my work routine. I find it very useful to be able to open the work in progress on any of my computers and have it suddenly, magically be there. I find it useful to have an automatic off-site backup. It has moved me away from Scrivener, because due to the way Scrivener works, it does not play as well with Dropbox as a conventional word-processor. I am a fidgety writer– I move around a lot. If you don’t, you probably won’t find this is useful as I do. It’s still a great backup device though.

Basic usage of up to 2GB is free. If you want more storage and some extra features, you will need to pony up some dosh. It works with Windows, OSX and Linux.

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