Earlier this year, at the end of my first year of graduate school and in the middle of paper-writing season, my laptop died. It had been lying innocently in my bag when they both toppled over and crashed onto the ground. The impact affected the monitor; it wouldn’t turn on. I don’t think there could have been a worse time. Deadlines were approaching and tensions were mounting. Thankfully I had been using Dropbox and, commandeering a nearby desktop computer, I was able to continue working without missing a beat.

The reason my working documents (including a powerpoint presentation and relevant images) were saved is because Dropbox, like Google Apps (explained previously), use cloud computing to save (or “sync”) your files online. For me, what’s special about Dropbox is threefold: For one, the service functions seamlessly with how you use your computer already. Dropbox is represented on your computer simply as a folder like any other. You drop files and organize subfolders as you would anything else. The difference is that this folder’s contents are backed up online. Which brings me to the second aspect I enjoy about this service: it is passive. That means that you don’t need to do anything for it to be doing its job. When my computer suddenly became inaccessible due to a broken screen I could be confident that the most recent version of the files I was working on would be available online, from any computer. This brings me to the third feature. Again like Google Apps, I can access my own Dropbox folder from any computer (through a login at the Dropbox website) and can even have files publicly accessible for others should I choose.

Go ahead, get Dropbox here.