Saturday, 12 February 2011

How have I ever managed without Dropbox?

The last couple of weeks have been extremely busy with a holiday and a trip to London omn behalf of my employer. Today I finally have some time to sit down and write a couple of posts...

...and also ask myself this question: 'how have I ever managed without Dropbox'? The answer is 'I'm not sure'. It's a brilliant piece of software that allows you to sync files between computers and share files with others who also use Dropbox. So I can create a Word document on this computer, stick it in my Dropbox folder and it's automatically accessible on any other computers that I am linked to. Brilliant! It looks like all the Dropbox servers do is take a backup of your material so you're still left with a copy and it gets around 'the cloud has all my data and won't give it back' issue.


John said...

Do you think there could be an issue with lost data or infringement with privacy/ data protection?

Mark Perry said...

I think that lost data is the lesser of these concerns. You are always keeping a hard copy of the data locally and it would make sense to me to treat the local dropbox folder like any other and back it up to a USB or network drive. Server backups today are (in my experience) pretty much foolproof; modern disaster recovery strategies, remote data centers that can come online in milliseconds and very clever backup software make this a Hollywood scenario.

Privacy / data protection is more of a concern. Dropbox says that all the files on their servers are encrypted - but its done using their own keys so I guess a court order could let a government agency examine Terabytes of data. There doesn't appear to be a way to encrypt your own information via the Dropbox app - maybe the answer is to first encrypt files before you 'drop' them. And user error - inviting the wrong person to share a folder or being tricked / coerced into doing so - would be a problem.

Once again we're back to the tradeoff between the convenience that 'cloud' computing offers and the inherent security risks. Wikileaks showed that you're only welcome in the cloud as long as you don't upset with the data you store there. The information you hold on dropbox will remain private (because of the sheer amount that is stored) until someone with authority takes an interest in it. Then it's not private any more.