The Dropbox logo on a white cube against a gray background.

A Guide to Dropbox: Top Use Cases and Pro Tips

Dropbox is a useful and all-around great cloud storage platform. The application is ideal for those looking for storage space on a budget. If you’re unfamiliar with the service and want to know how to use Dropbox to join the hundreds of millions of users, this article will guide you through the process.

This step-by-step guide to Dropbox includes the most popular use cases, key terms that will ease your use of the application, and Dropbox tips to streamline your learning experience. Since cloud storage is a relatively new concept, you may find it challenging to use Dropbox, at first.  However, with the help of this guide and some practice, you’ll have no challenges using it on your desktop or mobile device. 

What Is Dropbox?

Dropbox is a cloud storage service that lets you back up and store your files on the cloud. Content stored on Dropbox can be accessed from any location. The cloud computing industry is has been steadily growing over the years, as Statista estimates that it has generated over $400 billion in 2021. Although most users enjoy the free version of Dropbox, more than 15 million Dropbox users pay for this service.

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Dropbox is loaded with features and functions including sharing, collaborating, editing, and viewing different versions of a file. Think of Dropbox as a virtual storage unit that houses all your documents, images, applications, and other important files. It acts as a backup system, as backing up your most important files is usually recommended in case of a virus or hardware damage that could make you lose your files.

Why Do You Need Dropbox?

You need Dropbox cloud storage services to backup your important files and documents, preventing them from damage or loss. With Dropbox, you can rest easy knowing that your files are safe, even if your computer’s software or hardware is damaged. Besides being easy to use, this service lets you access these files from anywhere and on any device. 

Dropbox Use Cases

  • File storage: Dropbox offers both paid and free storage, ranging from 2GB to 100GB. You can extend your storage up to 100GB of space via paid extension plans. There is also a 350GB option designed for teams.
  • Backing up data: A data backup refers to a copy of specific information or data that is stored elsewhere and can be used to restore the original versions, especially in the event of data loss. 
  • Accessing your files from anywhere: The sync feature on Dropbox allows users to sync backed up data, enabling them to access this information from anywhere, as long as they’re logged into their accounts. 
  • Integrate other tools and desktop apps: Dropbox integration will enable you to connect to Google Suite, Microsoft Office, Slack, Adobe, AWS, Zoom, Autodesk, and Canva.  

Key Terms You Need to Know to Use Dropbox

Dropbox Business User

A Dropbox business user is anyone in a team with a unique email address. Dropbox allows each team member to have their user licenses. Dropbox business users can link their Dropbox accounts to multiple devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and PCs at no extra cost.  

Dropbox Syncing

Dropbox syncing refers to the process of synchronizing all your content across cloud storage, mobile phones, and computers. There will be a Dropbox icon in your taskbar when the files are syncing. 

Sharing and Collaboration

Collaboration, as used by Dropbox, allows you and your team members to share everything, including project outlines and meeting agendas. Content collaboration also makes it easy to add images, code, and video to team projects.  

Dropbox File Requests 

Dropbox has a feature called file requests which lets you request files from anyone and collect them directly in your Dropbox account. Anyone can send you a file that you’ve requested without them having a Dropbox account. All the files are collected and arranged in a Dropbox folder of your choosing. 

File Hosting

FIle hosting refers to a cloud storage service, taking all the files you upload to Dropbox and saving them to their cloud and servers. Any service that allows you to upload files and maintain them on another company’s server is a file hosting service. Dropbox and Google Drive are great examples of file hosting services. 

Equipment You’ll Need for Dropbox

  • A computer or mobile phone: Dropbox offers a desktop app and a mobile app. You’ll need a PC, mobile phone, or tablet to download and install the Dropbox app, as well as use it regularly. 
  • Reliable Internet connection: You’ll need a reliable Internet connection to register and upload files to your Dropbox account. Once you upload these files, you’ll need an Internet connection to access them from any device. 
  • An email address: You’ll need an email address to sign up for free. An email address is the only requirement needed to sign up and start using Dropbox.

How to Set Up and Start Using Dropbox

Step 1: Create a Dropbox Account

Go to the Dropbox website and sign up for a new account. You’ll notice that there are different plans that vary depending on usage and price. There are personal user plans and business plans. Under the personal user plan section, there are two plans. The first is Personal Plus for individual users and the second is Personal Family for families. 

Under the business plans, there are three plans which include Professional for professionals, Standard for small teams, and Advanced for larger teams. Comb through these options, choose the plan that suits your needs best, and follow the instructions after you’re set up.

Step 2: Download the Dropbox App Installer

Signing up for Dropbox will prompt you to download the app. This allows you to get the most from Dropbox. You could also download the mobile app which makes it easy to access files from your mobile devices.  

Step 3: Create, Upload, and Sync Your Files

After creating a user account and downloading the apps across your mobile devices, syncing is the next thing that you should do. Syncing allows you to distribute your files and content across your mobile devices, cloud storage, and computers. 

Start by creating folders on your home page. When you hit the “all files” tab on the home page, you’ll be given two options: to upload or create. When you hit “create”, a dropdown menu will appear with several options including folder, shareholder, document, spreadsheet, and presentation. 

Create multiple files depending on your needs. You could create other files within these files such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Google Slides. Alternatively, you could hit the “upload” tab to upload files from your computer. 

Syncing happens automatically when you have a Dropbox account. This process happens in the background as long as you are connected to the Internet. If you’re on Dropbox Plus, you can take advantage of Smart Sync which allows you to free up space on your device by moving the related files to the cloud. 

Step 4: Sharing Your Files 

Dropbox allows you to work and share files with different people. To share a folder, go to your Dropbox account home page. Under the “all files” tab, you should see a “create” option next to the “upload” button. When you click it, it will give you a dropdown menu with several options including a “shared folder” option. 

All you have to do is to type someone’s name and give them permission to edit, add, or delete files in that folder. You can also write a message to these people when creating the folder. Hit the “share” button to finish creating this file. 

Step 5: Sharing File Requests

In Dropbox, you should see a “file requests” tab on the left-hand side. Click on it, and you should then see a blue button bearing the words “new request” in the top-right corner. Click on it to bring up a “create new request” dialogue box. Follow the instructions given to add the title, description. Once you’re done, press the “create” button to finish. 

The Importance of Dropbox for Business

Dropbox allows teams to share, view, and edit files seamlessly regardless of their location. With Dropbox, businesses can share different types of files with a mass amount of people at once. This platform also has several collaboration tools that enable businesses to work more efficiently, even when working remotely.   

Top Dropbox Tips: Use Dropbox Like a Pro

  • Use Dropbox to send and save Gmail attachments. If you use Gmail and Google Chrome, Dropbox has a feature that allows you to send and save Gmail attachments. This saves time and energy when working.  
  • Restore previous Dropbox files. You can restore changes to a file by reverting to previous versions. After signing in to your account, click the files you want to delete, then pick the file you want to restore. Click on the file, and then choose “restore”. 
  • Collaborate with comments. Commenting on shared files can prove to be useful to ensure proper collaboration with team members. Collaborate with anyone on shared files by using “@”, followed by the person’s email address, to notify them of your remarks. 
  • Use Camera upload. You can upload your camera photos to your Dropbox account to keep them all in one place. All you have to do is toggle camera uploads to ensure your snaps automatically go to your Dropbox. 
  • Use selective sync. You can use selective sync to control which folders sync across devices. Selective sync manually lets you choose the files you wish to sync across devices with your Dropbox account. 

Dropbox for Different Professions

Profession Applications
Photographers Delivering albums to clients
Lawyers Sharing documents that need signatures
Graphic Designers Sharing files with contributors and clients
Engineers Collaborating with team members
Business Analysts Storing data

Should You Use Dropbox?

Yes, you should use Dropbox if you are looking for a cloud storage service provider. Dropbox is one of the best in the market and it comes loaded with a ton of features designed to help you upload and access files anywhere at any time. Furthermore, businesses and teams use Dropbox to collaborate on projects as one entity, ensuring they can safely share, view, edit, and request different types of files.  

How to Use Dropbox FAQ

How do I send files via Dropbox?

To share an individual file, go to the file you wish to share on your Dropbox account. Click the check mark next to this file to activate a share option. Add the email address of the person you wish to share the file with. To share a folder, go to your Dropbox account home page. Under the “all files” tab, you should see a “create” option next to the “upload” button. Click on it and it will give you a dropdown menu with several options including “share folder”. 

How do I send a file from Dropbox in an email?

Open your Dropbox app and hover over a file or folder that you want to send through email. Click the “share” button to create a link. Edit the “view and edit” options, depending on the level of access you wish to grant the recipient. 

How do I set up Dropbox on my computer?

Go to the Dropbox website and sign up for a free account using your email address. This should prompt a download of the Dropbox desktop app. Follow the instructions on the install wizard. Complete the installation and sign in to your Dropbox account. 

How do I use Dropbox to send a video?

Upload the video you want to send within the Dropbox app on your computer or mobile phone. Create a “shared link” and send it to your intended person through email, text, or chat.

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