I can’t say enough good things about it. Dropbox provides transparent, constant, internet-based backup and synchronization of a folder that remembers previous versions, with a few extras thrown in to allow easy sharing. It works on the Mac, on Windows, on the iPhone, the Android, the web, almost anywhere you can get to the internet. And it starts out free.

But what does this mean?

It means that you get a folder on your computer that acts like any other folder. You can move or copy files in and out just like any other folder. And because it is a local folder, it’s just as fast as any other folder on your local hard drive. But this folder has the magical property of being backed up, to the internet, in the background, and that backup is updated every time you make a change. 

And that backup is tied to a user account and login. Add another computer to the account, and anything you move into the dropbox on one computer ends up on the other computer. Or it’s now visible via the dropbox app on your iPad or mobile phone.

Or in a pinch, at a friends house, you can log in via the web and download the files that way.

The fact that it does this transparently in the background is awesome enough, but that’s not all! Every time you make a change, it keeps the previous versions for the last 30 days – so you can go back and recover that file you deleted or overwrote while on the road.

And that’s still not all. You can share any folder in your dropbox with other dropbox users that you specify. Now, anything you move into that subfolder shows up on their computer.

But, you ask, what if they’re not on dropbox? Or if I don’t want to share a folder with them? Well, there’s also a “public” folder. Move or copy a file in there, and right click on it, and select “Copy Public Link”. Now send them the link, and they can download the file directly from Dropbox. No need to fiddle around with yousendit, etc. for those occasions something’s too big to email.

Dropbox starts free at 2GB of storage, and you can pay for more. You can also refer your friends to get extra free storage for everyone who signs up a new account using your referral link.

And joking aside, it is an outstanding product that they constantly improve to make it faster, smaller, and more reliable than it already is. I evangelize it every day, and I keep all of my “current project” files within my dropbox folder. If I lose my laptop away from home, I’ll be able to recover all my current stuff up to my last internet connection, and anything older is archived to other backups anyway.


openDNS is a company who’s purpose is to replace the sometimes flaky DNS service that comes with your ISP (Hi, Comcast!) and provide an alternate means to look up addresses on the internet. This means that every time you try to look up www.apple.com, their computer takes the web address and sends back the numerical address, much like looking up phone numbers in a phonebook by name.

The side benefit of this is that with openDNS, you can also specify corrections of typos, define what kind of websites you don’t want visited from your household or office, and specify what exceptions you want to allow, because they control what computer you connect to when you ask for a website.

Specifying what you want to block follows the same categories used in many common filtering apps, and the logs give you a nice list of sites that have been denied. What it doesn’t do is let you know who in your network made the request, give you a weight for how strict to be within a category, or let you see what sites have been visited that were not blocked.

I can deal with those weaknesses, as it simplifies my computer setup and makes it a little more difficult for the kids to work around the restraints (I still make sure I eyeball their activity and computers on a regular basis). It has one other “plus” – the instructions. They have excellent documentation that should go a long way in helping you set up your router or computer to use their DNS servers as well as tracking changes in the IP address your ISP hands you.

Best of all, it’s “free.”