Why Simple File Sharing Is Serious Business

Posed picture of Drew Houston from the start-up DropBox

Image credit: DropBox

By Tom Simonite

It could be among most obvious business plans ever: offer to store people’s files online so they can access them anywhere.

The failure of any mainstream computing company to meet that simple need has left a gap now being ably filled by one of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing startups, Dropbox, a three-year old company recently valued at close to $4 billion.

Free software from the San Francisco–based company supplies a “magic folder” into which users can place photos, spreadsheets, and other documents. Stored centrally in Dropbox servers, those files are then automatically synchronized across all of a person’s computers and mobile devices. Folders can be shared between Dropbox users, so when one person adds a file, it instantly appears in another person’s folder. The software eliminates the need to e-mail files between computers or carry data on portable thumb drives.



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