Global Constant
Steve Nay's ramblings

Google Docs and Dropbox

I’ve been using a couple of “online” products the last few days for managing my documents. The first is Google Docs. It’s a lightweight, online editor for documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows. Everything is stored on the servers of the ubiquitous Google. It’s (usually) readily accessible, but only as long as you have an internet connection. (No there is Google Gears for offline file management, but it doesn’t “officially” run on 64-bit linux, which is what I have. There is a package someone has put together, but I haven’t got it all to work yet…)

The other product I’ve been using in Dropbox. Basically, it allows you to sync files across multiple computers. It stores your files on their servers and even keeps revision and deletion history. You can set up the client on Windows, Mac, or Linux. Dropbox then synchronizes them all. If one of them dies, it’s simple to put everything back. And all of your files are accessible on your local machine if you don’t have an internet connection. And, obviously, you’re not just limited to documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows–you can put up any file you like.

What is my evaluation? Google Docs is a lot easier to use. No daemon to install, no separate account (assuming you already have Gmail). But if you need to work on a document offline and haven’t explicitly exported it or installed Google Gears, you’re out of luck.

Dropbox leaves everything in your hands. You have your own copy of the files, with which you may do as you please. No internet? No problem. And you have no vendor lock-in. You edit files using whatever programs you like. You keep them in their native format (which means no data or formatting loss during file-type conversions). Plus, you can even upload and download files using the web interface, making your docs accessible even on a computer where you don’t have Dropbox installed.

Final answer: Google Docs for the little things where I need a quick and easily accessible document. But Dropbox for reliable handling of everything else.

Want a Dropbox  invite? Shoot me an email or leave a comment.

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