Dropbox Review: Online Cloud Backup
|Well-priced solution for file sharing and collaborative work; not true automated backup solution|
Dropbox's name is an apt descriptor for the service, as it's not a true automatic backup solution. After a simple download, the Dropbox application creates a folder on your computer: the virtual drop box in which you'll place your files. Unlike most of the other services we reviewed, Dropbox does not start backing up your drive automatically. Instead, drop (or save) a file in the Dropbox folder, and it's accessible through the web interface and the Dropbox program you've installed in Mac, Linux, or Windows computers as well as through apps in iPad and iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. You can also view files or enable fire sharing through a free iPhone app.
As mentioned above, Dropbox is not a full fledged online backup solution—it's strength is really in its cooperative file-sharing capabilities. You can drop files into the designated public folder, or create specific shared folders accessible to select individuals. Your system notifies you as changes are made to shared files, which is nice for document collaboration. If changes are made to a document two people are working on simultaneously, the system will save two versions of the document. A saved file is online and ready for use in no time. When tested against SugarSync, Dropbox was much snappier with our documents, and our changes were shown instantaneously.
All this works well enough, and with plans starting at $9.99 per month for 50GB, it's a pretty good deal. Yet it's worth noting that services like SugarSync or Carbonite are better storage bargains and offer true automated backup, although they don't have the collaborative document sharing capabilities. Dropbox's ad-hoc file sharing will be the perfect solution for some users. You can see if it's right for you by testing out its free 2GB plan.
In regard to HIPAA compliance: Online backup services cannot legally state that they are officially HIPAA compliant. However, Dropbox contains all of the security features to protect data that is transmitted to and from their servers. Dropbox follows strict guidelines to meet factors that go into HIPAA compliance. If you want to know what HIPAA is, please visit our FAQ page.
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