My computing life has become significantly easier ever since I installed DropBox, the free "cloud computing" solution that works on Macs, Windows, and Linux computers:
It's so simple it's ridiculous. Installing the small footprint program on your computer creates a folder called DropBox. You can put the folder anywhere you'd like, and you can add lots of subfolders inside it. It's just a regular folder on your drive, just like the other folders. When you run your backup program, it gets backed up too. It can sit on a server or shared drive if you like.
What's special, though, is that anything you put in the DropBox folder (or its subfolders) is automatically duplicated to the private DropBox servers, "up in the cloud." It all happens in the background. If you look, you'll see a little blue icon appearing on the file's icon in the Finder or Windows Explorer while it's uploading, when it's synched with the cloud, the icon turns green.
You can share any subfolder or single file in the Dropbox folder with anyone else, either from the contextual (right-click) menu, or from your account in the Dropbox site. Once that person installs Dropbox (again, it's free), then Dropbox synchs up with *their* Dropbox folder. It makes no difference if they're on your local network or on the other side of the world.
And since it's not peer-to-peer filesharing, but cloud-synching, it means I don't have to have my computer turned on in order for you to synch with our shared files. The Dropbox servers are always on.
So, I've stopped attaching syllabus updates to emails or putting thing on the server in my office just to share them with my assistant, Sherri. We just share a Dropbox folder so we both have access to the latest versions of the same files. Ditto with the files that David Blatner and I need to share for InDesignSecrets.com — we just share some DropBox subfolders that contain projects we're working on. The synching is almost instantaneous, even though he's in Seattle and I'm in Chicago. Even my daughter (who's in Brooklyn, New York) and I share a Dropbox folder so we both have access to the same photos we both add on occasion.
There are many more features …. it keeps versions! it has a Public FTP-like folder! It's perfect for remote InCopy users! … but you get the idea. It's simply drop-dead great.
You can have up to 2GB of information in your DropBox folder and not pay a dime. If you want more (like up to 50GB), then you can upgrade to a paid account. But if you use the link I gave above (http://tr.im/amcdrop), then you should get a bonus 150 MB of free storage space, and because I referred you, I'll get some extra too. So … thanks!