Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WotW: The Cloud of Clouds

A few weeks back, I wrote about the different major cloud services. In that post, I mentioned was my favorite of the cloud services, with its only downside being it didn't have a desktop syncing feature.

Now it does.

For those of you still not on the cloud bandwagon, perhaps this simple service will change your mind. To review, is a free service that gives users 5GB of online storage space. You can upload any type of file and store it in their cloud and then download it on any device, any time, anywhere.'s newest feature is a desktop syncing tool, which means a special Box folder is put on your computer.

You can drag and drop any file to your Box folder and it will automatically upload to your online account, making your files available anywhere.

To install the Box Desktop Sync feature, log in to your account in your web browser. Go to the My Account menu at the top and select Get Box Sync.

On the screen that follows, you will be able to select which version you need. This is based on your operating system. If you're not sure, Box will guide you through it.

After the file downloads, run the installation. This only takes a couple minutes. Once the installation is complete, you will be asked to sign in with your Box username and password.

You should now see a My Box Files folder in your documents. To begin with, you will only find one file in this folder, which Box puts there. Even if you have folders and files uploaded to your online Box account, they are not automatically downloaded. This is done for a few reasons, not the least of which is because if you have a lot of files online, it will take a long time to download them to your computer. Also, perhaps you don't want all those files on your computer as well as online.

But let's say you want to add a file or folder to your desktop. This is the syncing feature. To do this, go back to your online Box account in your web browser. Right-click on the file or folder you want to sync to your desktop and select Sync Folder to Desktop. A little blue icon with arrows will appear on the folder, indicating it is now synced with your computer.

If you go back and look at your Box folder on your computer, you will see it begin to download your files. From here on out, any changes you make to that folder on the computer and/or online will automatically be synced. Pretty sweet.

Why this is awesome

OK, so big deal, Dropbox and Google Drive have the same thing, right? True, but Box has greater sharing capabilities and embedding features that Dropbox and Google Drive can't compete with. Again, I think it's worthwhile to have all the cloud services, but Box is by far my favorite and this desktop sync is a great addition.

As we move more and more to using mobile devices, we will want our files to be accessible and Box Desktop Sync makes this so easy by allowing you to drag and drop files to your specified folder, just like you've always been used to with a traditional operating system.

On top of all this, Box has one more neat trick up its sleeve. Let's say you want to share a file with a friend. The traditional way to do this is to send an e-mail with an attachment, but this is kind of a pain because you have to take up storage space on your e-mail account and on the recipient's. Not to mention the fact that some e-mail accounts are touchy about attachments or have an attachment size limit. Avoid all this with Box's link sharing feature. Here's how:
  1. Add a file to your My Box Files folder.
  2. Right click on that file.
  3. Select the Box Sync option.
  4. Select the Get Box Link option.

A dialog box will appear with two links.

Either link can be copied and pasted into an e-mail, saving space and avoiding an attachment. The recipient of your e-mail simply has to click on the link and will be able to access the file.

There is a difference between the two links. The first link will share the file/folder with the person, which will take them to a simplified Box folder screen where they will see the file onscreen and can download it if they desire. The bottom link is more direct. When the user clicks on it, the file will immediately download.

Box Desktop Sync is an incredibly handy feature and the more you use it, the more you'll find yourself putting files in the cloud with minimal effort. Plus, once you download the Box app (free on both iOS and Android devices), you will have those files at your fingertips.
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