Welcome to Part 2 of the “How to Backup Your Files With Dropbox.com” series. In this post, I’ll explain step by step how to sign up for Dropbox, install it on your computer, and use it to start backup up your files.
Sign up for Dropbox
The first thing you need to do is to sign up for a free Dropbox.com account.
- Open your web browser (e.g. Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.) and go to the Dropbox homepage at the following web address: www.dropbox.com.
- Enter your name, e-mail address, and choose a password. Make sure you check the box that says “I agree to Dropbox Terms” (click on the blue “Dropbox Terms” link to read the terms first). Then click the blue “Sign up for free” button.
- If you see a page that says something like “Do more with Dropbox Plus”, and there is a button that says something like “Try free for 30 days”, do not click it! Dropbox offers a basic service that is always free. This page is trying to get you to upgrade to their paid service by offering you their paid service for a 30 day free trial. But all you need is the basic, always free service. Look for the link below the free trial button that says “Continue with Dropbox Basic”, and click on that link.
- You should now see a page telling you to download Dropbox to get started. Click the big blue “Download Dropbox” button to download the Dropbox installer. After clicking the button, you will either be prompted to choose where to save the download, or the download will begin without prompting you and it will be saved to the default download location for your browser.
After you’ve downloaded the Dropbox installer, simply run it to install Dropbox on your computer.
- Open the folder where you saved the download on your computer.
- Double click on the downloaded installer program “DropboxInstaller.exe”.
- After it finishes installing, you will see a window pop up asking you to sign in. Enter the e-mail address and password you used when you first signed up for Dropbox at the start of this guide, and then click the blue “Sign in” button.
- You should then see a “Congratulations!” message. Click on the blue “Open my Dropbox” button.
- You will then see a “Welcome” screen with a “Get Started” button. Click “Get Started” to see a brief overview of how to work with Dropbox.
- After you’ve finished the brief overview of Dropbox, the new Dropbox folder on your computer will automatically open. You can see where your new Dropbox folder was created by looking at the top of the window.
- You should see a new PDF file named “Get Started with Dropbox.pdf” has automatically been added into your Dropbox folder. This file contains more information about how to use and set up Dropbox. I would strongly recommend reading it when you have a chance.
- Notice that the file type icon to the left of the filename “Get Started with Dropbox.pdf” has a small green circle with a white check mark overlaid on top of the regular PDF file type icon. That green circle with a check means that Dropbox has successfully synchronized that file with the Dropbox server. Every file and folder placed inside of this “Dropbox” folder will automatically be synchronized with Dropbox’s server, and every time you save a change to a file already in that folder, the updated version of the file will also be automatically synced to Dropbox’s server. If something ever happens to your computer, a copy of that file will still exist on the Dropbox server so you can recover it if you need to.
- Let’s create a new folder inside of this “Dropbox” folder. Right click in any of the empty white area of the window, then select “New”, and then “Folder”.
- Name the folder “Example”, and then press enter. Notice that a blue circle icon with two rotating white arrows has appeared over the new folder icon. This icon means that Dropbox is currently in the process of synchronizing that new folder with the Dropbox server.
- The blue circle icon won’t last very long. It should quickly change to same solid green circle icon which means that the synchronization has completed successfully.
- You can create as many folders inside this “Dropbox” folder as you want, and you can nest as many different layers of folders as you want. Any files you keep in here will be copied to the Dropbox server for backup.
Recovering Your Backed Up Files
The worst has happened…your computer has crashed! Everything saved on your computer has been lost, and you have to get a new computer. So, how can you recover your backed up files onto your new computer? Well, it’s actually really simple!
- On your new computer, go to www.dropbox.com (just like you did when you first signed up for Dropbox). Instead of entering you name and other information like you did before, this time just click on the “Download the app” link near the top right of the page.
- After it finished downloading the Dropbox installer to your new computer, just repeat all of the steps in the “Install Dropbox” section of the guide above.
- After you’ve finished installing Dropbox, the new “Dropbox” folder which was just created on your new computer will open automatically. But unlike last time, there is more than just the getting started PDF file in there. All of your backed up files and folders are there too…hallelujah!
Note that you probably won’t be able to access all of your files just yet. Most of the files and folders will probably have the blue circle icon which indicates that the Dropbox is still in the process of synchronizing. That’s normal, as Dropbox has to download copies of all of your backed up files and folders to your new computer. Depending on how much you have backed up in your Dropbox account, it might take a little while for Dropbox to finish downloading everything. Once it is done, all of the files and folders will have the green circle icon indicating synchronization has been completed successfully. Now, you can pick up working with your files on your new computer right where you left off. You can edit and save changes to any of your files, and those changes will automatically be backed up to the Dropbox server just like they used to on your old computer.
But Wait, There’s More!
You don’t have to wait for your computer to crash before setting up Dropbox on a second computer. You can have your one Dropbox account linked to multiple computers at the same time, and any changes you make or files you create on one computer will automatically be synchronized to all of your other linked computers as well as the Dropbox server!
The Moral Of The Story…
I hope you can see that backing up your files doesn’t have to be a difficult chore. Dropbox is an excellent choice for people to easily back up their files without having to think about it. As long as you save all of your important files inside your “Dropbox” folder, they will always be safely backed up.
This is the end of my two-part series on “How to Backup Your Files With Dropbox.com”. If you missed part 1, be sure to go back and read it here. I hope you’ve found this helpful, and check back soon for more tech guides!