Why I don't sync Dropbox

I'm so happy that so many of you are enjoying my organizational posts! It's been brought to my attention via some emails that I neglected to mention one really big way that I use Dropbox differently than most people and I wanted to take a few minutes and explain.

When you first start using Dropbox (as well as many other cloud services like Google Docs) the default settings include syncing with your hard drive. What does this mean and why do these services do that? It means that all your files reside on both your hard drive and in Dropbox and they do that because most people are too lazy, don't remember, or aren't tech savvy enough to manually upload the files for backup. This is a good thing for the most part, but if you are a photographer or a digital scrapbooker (or both) then you will run out of room on your hard drive and it will slow down your computer's speed to try and keep up with all the syncing and storage issues.

How do I handle this? I use selective syncing and you can read all about it in the Dropbox help section. In my case, I don't let Dropbox or any other service automatically sync any of my files. All my files including photos, documents, and supplies are backed up when I manually upload them to Dropbox. Because I'm such a heavy user of Dropbox, I pay for the Dropbox Pro account of 1 TB and basically consider it as another external hard drive in addition to the physical 1 TB drive I have sitting next to my computer.

Isn't this a lot of work you ask? Nope! I have a system in place that when I get ready to file anything, I also add it to my structure in Dropbox. For example:

When I take pictures on my iPhone or iPad, they automatically sync to Dropbox using the camera auto upload feature. You can read more about that in my recent digital photo organization post. Because these pictures are already in Dropbox, I just need to move them to the proper folder now and then to stay with my yearly/monthly folder structure. Or if I choose to batch upload all my photos a month at a time, I can just delete them in the camera roll folder within Dropbox once I've done that. Peace of mind knowing I have the backup stored until I get that done!

Once a month has ended (or I actually get around to filing my pictures in their proper folders) I move all my photos to the proper file on my external hard drive and then I just upload that same folder to the proper place in Dropbox. All you have to do is open up the file page on Dropbox and then just drag and drop your folder there. 

If you have a ton of photos, it will take some time to upload, but it usually goes pretty fast if you have a good internet connection. If it says it will take an hour, it won't - unless you have a really slow connection. If you want to speed things up, upload smaller batches. You can also use the mobile apps to upload directly from your device. You are already moving the files once - not a big deal to move them twice for extra backup.

I use the same approach for storing all other files, including my digital supplies. Since they are not already being automatically added via the camera upload feature, I need to copy anything I want stored in Drobox and add it myself. Again, I'm moving it at least once out of my download folder. No big deal to move it again for extra backup.

I know that cloud storage seems scary if you haven't used it before. I promise, it's just like having another external hard drive. You have to manage files on any computer or hard drive you keep them on. Cloud storage is no different. 

The next question I bet you have is are the files safe? Dropbox addresses this in their help section and there are even extra precautions you can take. If you are storing sensitive financial or personal information, I would enable two step verification and I would also add passwords to those files before I even uploaded them to the cloud. No system is foolproof - especially your computer and hard drive that are sitting in your house. If someone got their hands on those, would they be able to simply open your folders and get all the information they need? Use passwords! Be careful what you store. The bottom line is I feel good about what I store on my own hard drive and in the cloud because I manage it myself. I don't want a cloud service having automatic access to anything on my computer unless I purposely authorize it.