Sunday, March 24, 2013

Paperless Mission #5: Organize Your Files in DropBox

This is the fifth post in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. If you haven't completed the previous missions, be sure to complete those first.
Also be sure to link up at the Go Paperless! linky.

Mission #5: Organize Your Files in DropBox

I routinely work off of multiple computers and devices. I have a desktop computer in my classroom, a work laptop, a work iPad, a home desktop, a personal iPad, and an iPhone, and from time to time, I'll use someone else's computer for something. Few things have frustrated me more than being on a computer and realizing that the file that I worked on was saved to another device and therefore unavailable. Flash drives got me by for a little while, but then there were always issues about remembering to save it to my computer and my flash drive, and if I changed something on one device, I'd need to remember to update the files on other devices. There was always a bit of paranoia, too, about whether the drive would get corrupted and everything on it lost. It just wasn't a good system for me.

Enter DropBox. I started using this platform a few years ago, and it has revolutionized how I manage my files. DropBox is an online file hosting platform. A basic (free) account gives you 2GB of storage with opportunities to earn up to 16 GB through referrals and social networking. There is also a paid version that gives you 100 GB for $9.99/month or $99/year. There are 200 GB and 500 GB paid versions as well, but that's far beyond my needs. I haven't even upgraded to a paid account yet!
Once you sign up for an account, you can download a version of DropBox to your computer that will automatically sync any files you save to it to your DropBox account online. From there, you can access your files from any computer or device with DropBox installed (there's an app version) or from any internet connection by signing in at

How I Use It

Over the last few years, I've moved almost all of my documents over to DropBox. Here are some examples of the types of things I keep there:
  • Curriculum documents - standards, pacing guides, state frameworks, etc
  • e-Books/supporting documents for textbook series
  • TpT creations and purchases
  • Assessments and activities
  • Clip Art Collections
  • Guided Reading resources
  • Photos
  • Desk Drawer folder - for all of the electronic stuff I would otherwise file in my desk
  • Much, much more!

I like having my stuff there for a variety of reasons:
1. Accessibility - no more worrying if something is on another computer or if I have the flash drive.
2. Back-up - since it's all stored in the cloud, I don't live in fear of a major computer meltdown. If my computer goes on the fritz, I'll still be able to get all of my stuff.
3. Constant syncing - If I'm working on a project on my laptop at school (which has DropBox installed), I can come home and switch to my desktop which also has DropBox. DropBox notices when you alter a document, and it will automatically sync those changes to your files across all of the devices as long as you have an internet connection. 

Evenote vs. DropBox

Evernote and DropBox obviously figure heavily in my paperless scheme, and it's definitely the case that there's some overlap between their features. I could, for example, save documents and attachments in Evernote Notebooks. But I think of Evernote as the replacement for my data and curriculum binders -- the place where I can put documents that I'm likely to need constantly and an archive of assessments. It's also a place for work that I'm annotating and evaluating. DropBox is more like my filing cabinet for all of the great activities I might need from time to time. I might pull something out and work on it, but it's more for storage.

Your Assignment

Make sure that you have a DropBox account. (If you haven't already signed up for DropBox, please use my referral link. We'll both get 500 MB of extra space!) Download the DropBox client on the computer(s) you use most, and begin to backup your files to DropBox. Empty out those flash drives and folders you have so you can get all of your work in one spot. Think of how you'll want to name your folders -- especially if you're consolidating documents from a variety of places. But getting your DropBox set up and ready to go will be a necessary step before your next mission on using GoodReader.

How's your move toward paperless going? I'd love to hear your updates in the comment section!


  1. I went paperless by necessity a few years ago when I was laid off from my job. I spent the last few months of the school year scanning any documents I thought I'd need/want and organizing them into folders. At the time, I had to store them on an external hard drive, and it made me nervous to know all those files could be lost. I'm sooooo thankful for Dropbox. It's literally changed my life! I love that I can work from my school or work laptop, iPad or even my phone. I simply copied and pasted all of my folders into Dropbox, and I just save everything there instead of into My Documents.

    1. I do love how easy it is to use -- I've been moving everything off of my computers onto it, and there really is a sense of relief that it won't all be lost. I'm thinking about splurging on a portable document scanner later this month so I can start purging some stuff from my filing cabinets at work.

      Thanks for leaving a comment! I really appreciate it!

  2. I absolutely love Dropbox! Our sixth grade team has a shared folder that we use for documents that we all need. Although Dropbox has so many great qualities, a unexpected bonus is that when one of us runs out of ink on our printer, we can drop the item into dropbox so that a team member can print it out for us! :-)

    I also have a Dropittome account so that students can send me completed assignments without having to have an email address.

    This project is really having me think about different ways I can accomplish assignments/projects without having 3 billion sheets of paper floating around!

    Surviving Sixth Grade

  3. One of the disadvantages of storing your files in flash drives is the possibility of the device being corrupted. That's why the development of online file storage has been a great leap in modern technology. Using online file storage makes file management easier as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on going paperless! Scality

  4. Dropbox would be the perfect tool for you, who use six different units. And it's cool that you wouldn't have to worry about remaining storage space. As long as you are connected to the Internet, you can access and upload every file you need. It's also an attractive feature that you can expand the storage memory for free! Ruby @Williams Data Management

  5. I have been using dropbox for while. It is all filled up now. Need to empty it out.


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