Friday, July 03, 2009

File syncing, storage, backup. Dropbox.

Dropbox— Free online storage. Syncs files between computers that are logged in to your account. Allows you to create a folder and share it with someone you know who also has a dropbox account, letting you share files as easily as dropping them into a folder. You can also put files into a public folder to send friends links to images, documents, or even a nice piece of freeware that you found useful.

It truly is a nice little service, with up to 5GB of free online storage, simply invite friends and both your storage and theirs increase. Let's go over a few different useful ways you can use this.

Syncing— The image to the left shows that I use dropbox for syncing some basic applications I may want on multiple computers. It also serves as a backup since the files are not only on my desktop & laptop but also on dropbox servers themselves. I can access these files without the dropbox client if needed through their web login too.

Collaboration— Sharing the files with someone you know is easy, create a folder in your dropbox, right click, and select share, type in your partners email and send it. If they don't have dropbox they'll be asked to create an account.
This makes working on files as a team easy since you can drop it in their folder and it automatically uploads to the server then downloads to their computer. The file uploading is done in a way so that it won't upload the entire document if you only make a small change. It will only update the portion of data changed. This is useful for when one of you is editing an image that's large. *Note: If two people open the same file at the same time then save it at the same time and sync it at the same time you will create a conflict file. Try to only have one person working on any given file at a time. This isn't hard if you're using voice services for real time communication, such as Skype. :Note end*

Public file sharing— So, you're talking to someone and want to link, for example, a document. You can easily do this using your dropbox public folder. Just put the document inside and once it's uploaded to the dropbox server you can right click it, select get public link, and send it to anyone. Your files in your public folder are protected as people cannot see the directory of your public folder and need a direct link to access any files inside. You can use it to link images or even very simple html webpages can be put in for a little site, though you will need to bookmark it or copy the public link each time you want to go to it or link a friend to it. I use it for sites that don't allow me to embed my Digsby widget. It gives them a way to still contact me in the even that they don't have an instant messenger.

It has a lot of uses and creativity will bring them out in full color. Oh, and don't worry about security. It uses a fully encrypted connection when uploading and once uploaded the dropbox team cannot view the contents, only the names. If you're still concerned you can use truecrypt to create a container file to put important documents in. The nifty part is that you won't need to re-upload the entire container when you've made a change, thanks to how they handle data changes, it will only update the small chunk of data that was altered.

You can find it at Dropbox — For added space you can use a referral to create your account, this will give you a small bonus amount for when you initially sign up.

To gain even more space you'll need to invite friends using your own referral code. Hopefully this helps someone who was looking for such a service.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Windows 7 & Truecrypt FDE - After Win7 is installed.

If you've already installed Windows 7 but want to use truecrypt full disk encryption you'll need to either reinstall the operating system and make sure to prevent windows 7 from creating the second partition during installation or simply follow a workaround. It doesn't take that much time (aside from downloading a live cd which may take about a half hour if you're on a relatively normal high speed connection).

I'll use ubuntu in the guide for simplicity. I'll also assume your computer has a dvd writer in it.
  • You need to have a dvd for the live cd to be burned to.
  • You can use Cd Burner XP for burning the live cd iso file to disc for use.
  • Download Ubuntu

  • Burn the ISO of ubuntu to the dvd as an iso file. Make sure you don't burn it as a data disc or the computer won't boot off of it.
  • Once you've burned the iso to the dvd restart your computer with the dvd in the tray and wait to see if a "Press any key to boot from disc" or wait and it may auto run. Confirm the disc works and you can load into Ubuntu.

  • Take the disc out and load into Windows.
  • Click the start orb and in the search box type "Computer Management"
  • On the left click "Disk Management"
  • Right click on your C:\ and click "Mark partition as active"

  • Put the disc back in and load into Ubuntu.
  • Go to "Places" at the desktop, it should be on a top bar. Then you should be able to go to "Computer". Once you've got a window open on the left side you should notice something similar to the tree in Windows for directories. Look for a partition named "System Reserved".
  • Don't browse any deeper just sit at the top level of that partition and select all of them and cut them. Now go over to other partition that (in my case) was titled something like "500GB". I'm assuming it just uses the drives size as it's name.
  • Open up the main partition and you'll see your at the base of what would be C:\ in windows. It should contain your "users" and "program files" among other things.
  • While at the base of what would be C:\ in windows, paste the files we selected earlier.
  • Reboot.

You're done, you can now encrypt your drive as you normally would.