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Re: I don't understand the most basic elements to Dropbox

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I don't understand the most basic elements to Dropbox

Helpful | Level 5

I've never felt so dumb, but I really think it's just that Dropbox assumes I know something, and they're not making it totally clear.  For reference, yes, I understand the most basic premise that I can store my files in the cloud (whatever that really is) and retrieve them from anywhere I have an internet connection.

 

What I generally don't understand is the connection between my hard drive and the cloud and what is being used when, etc. etc.  Specifically, I subscribe to Dropbox and download the app.  Now let's say I use Excel.

 

1.  I click File, Open, and I see among my choices my C: drive, some commonly used folders, and the Dropbox icon.  Is that icon representing a storage area on my hard drive or a storage area in the cloud or both?  Believe it or not, nothing I've read or watched precisely explains that.

 

2.  I get out of there and am back in Excel.  I create an Excel file from scratch, and I want to save it as TestFile, so I do a Save As and the same sort of box comes up with a lot of folders I can save to OR the Dropbox icon.  If I save it to the Dropbox icon, where is that TestFile saved, precisely?  To the hard drive, to the cloud, or to both?

 

3.  If it's just being saved to the cloud, it appears that I'm screwed if the internet goes down.

 

4.  Dropbox thinks it explains syncing, but again, it skips over the very basics.  It keeps telling me that if I sync, I can save hard drive space.  Well, maybe I don't understand syncing, but to me syncing is this:  when I save a "syncing" file, it updates both on my hard drive and on the cloud, right?  Isn't that what the word sync means?  I mean, that's the benefit I'm really looking for here.  Especially if #3 happens.

 

5.  So, precisely how do I get #4 to happen like I think it should?  That is, how do I ensure I will always have the most recent copy on both my hard drive and in the cloud?  I mean, I can always save to the cloud, which means I can always copy my file on the hard drive into that Dropbox icon, but that's not syncing, that's just saving to two different places.

 

6. So, if there is a way to sync my files/folders like I want to do in #4, can I keep my hard drive folder structure th same, or do I have to build this file/folder structure under the Dropbox icon?  If I want a folder that is currently C:\Documents\BirthdayParty to be updated both on the hard drive and cloud, what precisely do I have to do?  Do I have to move it first under that Dropbox icon?

 

So you see, Dropbox doesn't explain what's going on with hard drive vs cloud and what syncing precisely is, and that's why I have these elemental questions.  Thanks to anyone patient for explaining this to me like I'm five.

 

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions
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Re: I don't understand the most basic elements to Dropbox

Super Collaborator | Level 20

Hi @tmelander,

😃😄😀 Yes, you have reason for such a remark to a large extent!

Basically Dropbox is a syncing service (at least initially). Additionally there are added some "features" targeted to local drive space saving. Not perfectly implemented and also so "perfectly" explained. In this context:

1 - Both.

2 - Both.

3 - It depends - see below.

4 - Fully agree with you.

5 - Make sure you haven't been activating the "feature" so called "Smart Sync"!!! Sometimes it's turned on by default - be careful!

6 - You have to build this file/folder structure under the Dropbox icon (immediately or nested in some other folder into Dropbox).


@tmelander wrote:

...  If I want a folder that is currently C:\Documents\BirthdayParty to be updated both on the hard drive and cloud, what precisely do I have to do?  Do I have to move it first under that Dropbox icon?

...

Not "first"! Moving it under Dropbox is the only and enough action needed.

 

When "Smart Sync" isn't activated you achieve exactly what you expect. The only exception is that everything targeted for sync have to reside under Dropbox folder, not under arbitrary one. This is a disadvantage definitely. Some workaround, in some cases, could be setting a link outside Dropbox folder on place convenient for you, pointing to the actual content inside Dropbox folder. This is exactly what "Backup" feature do, for example, nothing more. You can do the same, if applicable for your cases, on arbitrary folders. Move a folder, you want to sync, somewhere into Dropbox folder and set, on the initial position, link with same name like the folder name pointing to the new location inside Dropbox folder. That's it.

If you activate "Smart Sync" ( intentionally or not! ) content of many files will get removed from your local storage to save space. That's the feature target. There are "placeholders" still in your local storage, but files recovering will be need (and internet connection at that time, of course). Otherwise the "placeholders" (empty files) will stay inaccessible. Be careful!

In points 1 and 2 above I assume your "Smart Sync" is off!

 

In this same context I made a proposal (so called "idea") here. Hope if Dropbox accept it some aspects of application organization will be more clear and intuitive, including everything related to your questions. You can vote up my idea if you want.

 

Hope this sheds some light.

View solution in original post

4 Replies 4
Highlighted

Re: I don't understand the most basic elements to Dropbox

Super Collaborator | Level 20

Hi @tmelander,

😃😄😀 Yes, you have reason for such a remark to a large extent!

Basically Dropbox is a syncing service (at least initially). Additionally there are added some "features" targeted to local drive space saving. Not perfectly implemented and also so "perfectly" explained. In this context:

1 - Both.

2 - Both.

3 - It depends - see below.

4 - Fully agree with you.

5 - Make sure you haven't been activating the "feature" so called "Smart Sync"!!! Sometimes it's turned on by default - be careful!

6 - You have to build this file/folder structure under the Dropbox icon (immediately or nested in some other folder into Dropbox).


@tmelander wrote:

...  If I want a folder that is currently C:\Documents\BirthdayParty to be updated both on the hard drive and cloud, what precisely do I have to do?  Do I have to move it first under that Dropbox icon?

...

Not "first"! Moving it under Dropbox is the only and enough action needed.

 

When "Smart Sync" isn't activated you achieve exactly what you expect. The only exception is that everything targeted for sync have to reside under Dropbox folder, not under arbitrary one. This is a disadvantage definitely. Some workaround, in some cases, could be setting a link outside Dropbox folder on place convenient for you, pointing to the actual content inside Dropbox folder. This is exactly what "Backup" feature do, for example, nothing more. You can do the same, if applicable for your cases, on arbitrary folders. Move a folder, you want to sync, somewhere into Dropbox folder and set, on the initial position, link with same name like the folder name pointing to the new location inside Dropbox folder. That's it.

If you activate "Smart Sync" ( intentionally or not! ) content of many files will get removed from your local storage to save space. That's the feature target. There are "placeholders" still in your local storage, but files recovering will be need (and internet connection at that time, of course). Otherwise the "placeholders" (empty files) will stay inaccessible. Be careful!

In points 1 and 2 above I assume your "Smart Sync" is off!

 

In this same context I made a proposal (so called "idea") here. Hope if Dropbox accept it some aspects of application organization will be more clear and intuitive, including everything related to your questions. You can vote up my idea if you want.

 

Hope this sheds some light.

View solution in original post

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Re: I don't understand the most basic elements to Dropbox

Helpful | Level 5

Thanks, I really appreciate  your response.  So I now have experimented based on your help, and I do see that whatever I save to my Dropbox icon gets updated locally and in the cloud.  That make things pretty simple and was what I was looking for.  I disconnected, saved a new file to my Dropbox folder, found it updated on the hard drive (of course) but not on the cloud (because disconnected), so that's both good and obvious.  It then appeared to update on its own immediately upon connecting again to the internet.  Fantastic!

 

I then tried it backwards, editing on the cloud (using a different and connected device) with my main device disconnected, determining that it was unchanged in the Dropbox folder, which proved again that the Dropbox folder files are on the hard drive of my main device.  Then I connected and while it took a few minutes to sync, that file did get updated on my hard drive.  Voila!  That's the sh***t I'm talking about!  That's what I wanted out of Dropbox and it makes me mad that they can't simply explain that.

 

As far as my whole folder structure on my hard drive, it's a tough decision whether I want to move my whole set of files under Dropbox (they're fortunately subordinate to one main folder Documents).  I think I do, as long as it's safe.  This seems a very basic usage of Dropbox, but it's fine for me.

 

So, if I move my main folder Documents to be under Dropbox, are there any concerns with respect to:

1.  Working offline/disconnected (do my Dropbox folders or files on my hard drive (seem to) disappear due to bugs or something?)

2.  Keeping the whole of my computer documents (and livelihood) on the cloud; i.e. How safe is Dropbox?

 

And a specific question:  I have a business client, ClientX, who just quit working with me, though there is always a possibility of reuniting.  I have 200 gigs of files pertaining to them.  That's too big for my C: drive (meaning I can handle it, but would rather not).

That is, the specific folder Documents/ClientX I don't want to just drop into my Dropbox icon/folder, because that will keep it on my hard drive.  How do I handle this?  I think this probably the one thing Dropbox keeps answering with tutorials and videos over and over, but I'd rather trust you to answer this.

 

At which point, you should ask Dropbox for a commission on the $200 or more I'll give them annually.  I sincerely appreciate your help.

Highlighted

Re: I don't understand the most basic elements to Dropbox

Super Collaborator | Level 20

Hi again @tmelander. 😉

1 - Dropbox folder is a folder like any other folder in your computer, so nothing special, nothing aside of that I have said in the previous post above.

2 - It's safe generally. You have to be very careful while using some strange "features"! Read carefully everything before make some choice, not just make some move where no any route back. There are many such "features" looking like a traps. Just poor implementation. If you are careful, everything is safe. 😉 If you look around the forum, most of the data lost are result of inadequate user behaviour (predisposed from the poor feature implementation, mostly). Again be careful.


@tmelander wrote:

...

That is, the specific folder Documents/ClientX I don't want to just drop into my Dropbox icon/folder, because that will keep it on my hard drive.  How do I handle this?  ...


There isn't one right answer. It depends on how you're using the data currently. If you just want to keep data on the cloud and without any access needed soon, you can move that folder under Dropbox folder and, once get in sync, remove it using "Selective sync" ( not "Smart sync"! ) uncheck. So the folder will wait on the cloud till your client gets back without engaging any local space. At this moment, if my proposal was accepted and implemented, even move would haven't be needed, but...

 

Good luck!

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Re: I don't understand the most basic elements to Dropbox

New member | Level 2
New member | Level 2

I agree that the crews at Dropbox have done a very poor job of explaining how Dropbox really works. There are a lot of marketing terms but no nuts and bolts descriptions.


For example:

1- there appears to be NO glossary

2- from how they write the tutorials there appears to be no canonical bible or book of rules

3- they confuse simple terms such as folder and file. Depending on where one looks those terms are confused and mean different things

4- do we really need "Smart Sync" vs. "Selective Sync?” The word Smart is so subjective as to be meaningless

5- they even confuse simple terms such as Upload and Download. They should ALWAYS be used from the perspective of the user/person initiating the action


I could rant on, but I doubt anyone at Dropbox is listening. I agree with your criticism!

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