How to use Dropbox to untether your soul

image of a poppy against a blue blue sky

If you use a computer for more than checking email and facebook, you've got an issue: files. Files include everything from notes to photos to your school thesis. Some of these wouldn't bother you too much if they disappeared. Others would probably break your heart. Maybe your digital photos of your sisters wedding. Maybe your much-anticipated memoirs.

Regardless, you've got one of two problems. Either you've not thought about this before, and are in danger of losing everything, and suffering massive heartache in the process, or you're scurrying around, constantly worried about whether you've got things sufficiently protected and backed up. Part of your soul is tied to the whims of your computer.

That isn't right.

Dropbox can cure you. Dropbox can unchain your soul. Here's how to use dropbox to cut yourself lose, so you can float free into the ether.

Step 0 - Sign up

Think of Dropbox as a virtual flash drive (thumb drive, USB stick, whatever). It holds your files, and it lives in the sky, so you can access it at any time. The best thing is, you don't have to carry it in your pocket.

The zeroth step should go without saying, but you have to sign up and activate it. Feel free to use this link to signup. I get extra space, and so do you. Or if you want signup without me getting anything, just go to

Step 1 - Your life on Dropbox

At this point, you need to get your active files into Dropbox. If you write, move your writings there. If you have projects, move the active project folders into it. This will accomplish three amazing things:

  • Backup (all your work is backed up on their server)
  • Versioning (all the changes you make are preserved for 30 days, so if you mess up, you can undo)
  • Universal access (we'll talk about this more below, but the main thing is that anywhere you have web access, you can access your files)

For me, I just wanted to move everything I had into it. That's the easiest and best way. But if you need to keep things in certain locations, and still have Dropbox take care of them, you can. I'll cover that later.

For now, get as much as you can onto Dropbox.

Step 2 - Make it part of the way you work

The next step is to place shortcuts or aliases to Dropbox wherever you frequently place files - your desktop, the dock, whatever. This way when you're dropping a file somewhere, you can drop it onto a Dropbox shortcut instead, and start making this into a positive habit.

On my Desktop, I just like to have a large Dropbox icon, reminding me that everything goes there.

Step 3 - Universal access

Now you're going to get universal access to your files. If you have multiple computers (work and home, for example), just install Dropbox on each one, and sign in with the credentials you used above. All the files in Dropbox will sync between these computers, and be available regardless of whether you're online or offline.

If you have a smartphone, you'll want access there as well. Fortunately, there are apps for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android.

For everything else, Dropbox has a great web interface that allows you to do pretty much everything you would do on your normal computer.


This should get you started moving your digital life into "the cloud", and untethering your soul in the process. Even if you're not into drastic changes, this is one that will grow on you. The less you worry about your files, the less you have to think about where they are and whether or not you've got a copy of a certain picture on your phone, the less you have to think about your computer, period, the freer you will be.