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How To Access Your Files From Any Computer

written by John Chow on April 4, 2012

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I keep all the stuff I use to run my blog in the cloud. Being in the cloud allows me to access my blog, documents, photos and emails from any computer or mobile device. This gives me tremendous freedom and allows me to live the Dot Com Lifestyle. But how about files stored on my home computer? How do I access those files from another computer or a web browser? The best solution I’ve found for that problem is Dropbox.

Dropbox is my favorite online storage service. Dropbox allows me to access my home computer files from any computer, anywhere in the world. Dropbox acts just like a network drive in the cloud. Drag a file from your computer to Dropbox and it’ll transfer to the Dropbox online storage service. Any updates to the file will auto update the file on Dropbox. You can access your Dropbox from any computer where you have Dropbox installed. If you’re on a public computer, you can log into your Dropbox account from a web browser. There is also a Dropbox iPhone/iPad app so you can access your files from any iOS device.

Dropbox offers 2GB of secured online storage for free. However, if you create an account with this link, they’ll give you 2.5GB for free. If you need more space than that, Dropbox has a Pro50 account with 50GB of storage for $9.99 per month, or a Pro100 with 100GB of storage for $19.99 per month. The video below explains how Dropbox works in plain english.

In addition to storing and syncing the files on all my computers (PC and Mac) and my iPhone and iPad, there are many tricks you can do with Dropbox. Here are two of my favorites.

Integrate Dropbox with 1Password

If you’re like me and run more than one computer (plus mobile devices), keeping all the passwords synced can be a problem. I use 1Password to store all my passwords (nearly 300 at last count) and while the program does have an import and export feature, I’ve found the best way to keep everything in sync is to combine 1Password with Dropbox.

By moving the 1Password.agilekeychain file to my Dropbox, it becomes usable to the 1Password programs installed on my other Macs, PCs and iOS devices. All you need to do is go to the 1Password Preferences and under the General tab, click Move on the Data File. Select Dropbox as your new 1Password.agilekeychain location and you’re set.

Syncing 1Password with Dropbox

Now install 1Password on the other computers. Go to the shared Dropbox and double click on the 1Password.agilekeychain file. 1Password will ask if you wish to use this file. Click yes and you’re done. Now, any updates to the password files from any computer will auto update all the other computers. Your passwords will always be synced.

Start BitTorrent Downloads At Home From Any Computer

I keep all my torrent downloads on my home media computer. When I am on the road and come across a great torrent, I use Dropbox to tell my home machine to start downloading it. Here’s how.

From the home machine, create a folder call Torrents (or whatever you want to call it) inside your Dropbox folder. Next, fire up Transmission (or whatever BitTorrent client you use) and in Preferences, Transfers tab, check the “Watch for torrent files in” option and set it to the Torrents folder.

Transmission

What you are telling the program to do is to watch for new torrent files in the Dropbox/Torrents folder and if a file shows up, to start downloading it automatically.

Now if I’m away from home (or just in my office) and find a great torrent, I can download the file to my travel comp, and put the file into the Dropbox/Torrents folder. The file will then show up in the home media computer’s Dropbox/Torrents folder and Transmission will start the download immediately. You can even start a download even if you’re on a public comp by logging into your Dropbox account using a browser and uploading the file to the proper folder.

I don’t recommend saving the resulting download into your Dropbox folder. Save them somewhere else. If you do save to your Dropbox, it’ll mean you’ll be able to watch your TV shows or Movies from any computer, but you’ll use up your Dropbox space pretty quick. In my case, I save them to my network drives, so I can watch them from any computer as well, but I don’t use up any Dropbox space.

In order for all this to work, you have to keep Dropbox and the BitTorrent client running on your home comp. If the BitTorrent client is off, the download won’t start when you drop in the file. What I did was set up an Automator to fire up Transmission if a new .torrent file is detected in the Dropbox/Torrents folder.

Automator

You’ll discover many other tricks with Dropbox once you start using it more, so go sign up for a free account and give it a try. The link below will give you an extra 500MB on top of the 2GB of free storage.

Click Here To Get 2.5GB of Free Dropbox Storage

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{ 33 comments }

anseocompany April 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

Trying to increase your free limit again with this post for referrals? :)

John Chow April 4, 2012 at 8:42 am

 @anseocompany I already hit my limit. :P 

moneca April 4, 2012 at 9:26 am

just posting this to be at the top of the comments list…lol…will get to your great content later in the day…want to thank you for doing the pinterest posting, i am really loving being on that thread of info…have gained new insights in the whole wave of ‘pinterizing’!!!

John Chow April 4, 2012 at 9:33 am

 @moneca You do know that I no longer have a top commentator list? :)

anseocompany April 4, 2012 at 11:08 pm

 @John Chow WHAT! What’s the point in commenting now! :)

Sabaiweb April 4, 2012 at 9:27 am

Now you can double your free space on Dropbox :-) http://blog.dropbox.com/?p=1096 

catchterry April 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

John I think you must give Zukmo a try, it not only syncs files but does lot more to manage variety of content. I am totally in love with Zukmo even though it offers lesser space. 

John Chow April 4, 2012 at 9:44 am

 @catchterry There’s no rule that say you can’t use both. I’ll look into it. 

catchterry April 4, 2012 at 9:52 am

 @John Chow Absolutely true. I am sure you will love it too. To add to it, Zukmo is also available for businesses as SyncBlaze with more features that is totally oriented towards business. But they are available only through channels, not sure whether its a good thing or a bad thing. 

BryanDCarlton April 4, 2012 at 9:40 am

This is so cool,  I have heard about it, but never looked into it.  I am defiantly going to start blogging in the clouds.
 
Bryan

Sabaiweb April 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

I have been using Dropbox for a long time, and I always recommend this for people asking about online store and sync service. 

AlanChinWengLon April 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

For some reason , it’s only better in storing an amount of application , small size photos , internet data, small size graphic and documents. 2.5GB which quite enough for starting something or even launching something. But sadly, may be I think it’s still small , probably into the public perspective, they may be need more larger space to store it. 

John Chow April 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

 @AlanChinWengLon That’s why Dropbox offers a Pro50 and Pro100 paid accounts. 

fas April 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

Dropbox totally rocks, Apple is trying to get close with their iCloud.

John Chow April 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

 @fas Apple tried to buy Dropbox but Dropbox turned them down. lol

Abhik April 4, 2012 at 10:36 am

I use DropBox too for backing up my documents. What I love is the FXP function.
 

lilgame_0007 April 4, 2012 at 10:47 am

i tried this but had a lot of problems. thanks for the explanation. i think i caught  where i messed up. send free text messages at textme4free.com

JohanCyprich April 4, 2012 at 11:22 am

DropBox is a nice solution, but if you want more space, get a web hosting account. I pay $10/month for unlimited disk space. I wouldn’t say it was unlimited, but large enough to back up all of my files with an SSH client.

John Chow April 4, 2012 at 11:40 am

 @JohanCyprich You can do that (or S3) but the it’s not as elegant a solution as what Dropbox gives you. With webhosting, the files are on one server instead of all your computers that has Dropbox. If one comp gets lost or goes bad, no problem. If your web server goes bad, you’re toasted. 

sunlight18 April 4, 2012 at 11:25 am

A very good post! It will take time for me to learn how dropbox works but I am sure this wil be helpful :)

JamesW April 4, 2012 at 11:32 am

Great post John, I will check out more about this tool.

Life Insurance Over 85 April 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I hope all of you who are enjoying the conveniences of online file storage services like dropbox, would also consider the security aspect of it. I do not recommend storing sensitive information since you have no absolute idea who is sitting behind the dropbox server looking at what you have in your account.
 
In fact one feature I dislike about Dropbox is the fact that once I delete a file, it can still be un-deleted and restored. Others might like this feature but not me because it means my information will be permanently stored on the server which leaves me no option to remove it if I accidentally uploaded something confidential.

HealthWrong April 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm

The unique feature of Dropbox I like is the ability for you to upload or access your documents through your “My Computer”. This is something you can hardly find with other similar providers.

Brendan Carl April 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I’m glad to finally read about another person using could-based tools. I have been using Dropbox forever (not for IM, but for personal use). The ease and convenience of having all of your files available to you from any computer makes not using services like Dropbox plain stupid. It astounds me that people still do not use Dropbox, especially since it is free!
 
Another great service to use is Sugarsync. Sugarsync actually offers 5 gigs of free storage space, while Dropbox only offers 2 gigs. This may not be a big deal for some people that do not deal with a lot of files, but for people who have a lot of pictures and/or videos, Sugarsync may be the way to go.

Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly April 4, 2012 at 10:59 pm

I’m already using Dropbox and it’s a great service, but I’ve never thought about using it in these two ways. John you always have interesting and useful hints to use products almost no one else has. Great post.

free template April 5, 2012 at 1:11 am

This feature will very useful for me because I am handling huge data from different computer. Thanks.

OguntayoMathewAdekunle April 5, 2012 at 1:56 am

I am using dropbox, but i never tought of all this wonderful opportunities that comes with it, John, you’ve really made it simple for me to use Dropbox more efficiently, thanks.

Rags_K April 5, 2012 at 2:28 am

I have been using Dropbox for a long time now but with the security issues wandering around it. I have always been uncomfortable with sharing data. Hence I was looking for some alternatives and read this post on Quora http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-Dropbox-equivalent-for-the-enterprise and found about CollateBox http://www.collatebox.com/ , waiting for this one now..

jawatankosongkerajaan April 5, 2012 at 3:23 am

aweosme info.. thanks for the share… :-) 

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rituahoojaanand April 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm

i cant subscribe via email to the free dropbox as it keeps asking for an email address even though i have put 5 different email addresses in.:(

Hotdogman April 6, 2012 at 7:24 am

Dropbox is great for sharing large files- like video files. Ever try to email a big video file? What a pain! With Dropbox, it’s easy. Open a “Share” folder and you can trade any files easily, without gumming up your hard drive. Good Stuff. @John Chow 

Steve Watson April 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Now if I’m away from home (or just in my office) and find a great torrent, I can download the file to my travel comp, and put the file into the Dropbox/Torrents folder. The file will then show up in the home media computer’s Dropbox/Torrents folder and Transmission will start the download immediately. You can even start a download even if you’re on a public comp by logging into your Dropbox account using a browser and uploading the file to the proper folder.