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Supercharge Your Dropbox Account with Space Upgrades, Apps, and More

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Dropbox is a great way to store files in the cloud and access them easily from devices big and small. Today we’re taking a look at how you can supercharge your Dropbox experience with free space upgrades, app integration, and more.

What Is Dropbox and Why Should I Care About Supercharging Anything?

Dropbox, for the unfamiliar, is a cloud-based storage service. You install an application on your computer or mobile device and the files on that device—within your Dropbox directory—are synchronized to the remote storage on the Dropbox server as well as with other devices that are linked to your Dropbox account. With Dropbox, for example, you can save a Word document you’re editing at home and then open that document from your Dropbox when you get to the office. You’ll need a Dropbox account to follow along with our tips, so you might as well visit Dropbox’s site, check out the intro video, and grab a free account.

You might already be a Dropbox user and not sure why you should bother with all this fancy superchaging business. If all you do with a Dropbox account is sign up, save some files, and forget about them, sure you’ve got a nice cloud storage arrangement with syncing (if you use it on more than one machine) but you’re missing out on a ton of functionality. Read on as we highlight ways you can, for free or very cheaply, vastly enhance your Dropbox experience.

Score Free Dropbox Space

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The basic Dropbox account is free and comes with only 2GB of storage space. That’s not awful if you’re only syncing some documents between computers, but it starts to feel real cramped real fast if you start adding bigger files. You could upgrade your Dropbox account ($99 a year for 50GB or $199 a year for 100GB) but you can easily score up to 16GB of extra space with referrals and additional space beyond that 16GB of referrals with other techniques (my personal Dropbox account, for example, is 18.25GB in size based on referrals and special promotions alone). So how can you score this sweet, sweet, free storage? Let’s take a look.

Refer friends (up to 16GB). This was the original way to score more space and still the way to score the largest amount of free space. While logged into your Dropbox account look in the left hand navigation column. Above the disk-space-in-use meter you’ll see a link “Refer Friends to Dropbox”. You can refer friends via email, Facebook, and Twitter or just send them the link at the bottom of the referral page. Every time your friend signs up they get 250MB extra on their account and you get 500MB extra. Everybody wins in the game of Dropbox Referral.

Note: As much as we’d love to help you and your quest to gain referrals, please refrain from spamming the comments of this guide with your referral link. Thanks!

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Link your Dropbox account to your social media accounts (up to 512MB). If you go through all the steps on Dropbox’s free space page here, you can score up to 512MB. It takes a few minutes tops and you get half a GB of storage for free. Incredibly simple things like following @Dropbox on Twitter scores you free space.

Connect a .EDU email address to your account (doubles your referrals). If you have access to a .EDU email account (your current college account, your alumni let you keep your email address when you graduated, or otherwise) you want to link it to your Dropbox account. Why? Because it will double all past and future referrals. Thus if you already have 2GB worth of referral space, just linking your .EDU address will double it to 4GB. Instantly!

Take part in Dropquests and other Dropbox promotions (variable). Dropbox runs special promotions, usually every six months or so, that feature free space in exchange for participation. Here’s a link to Dropquest 2011. The rewards for these promotions usually vary but at minimum most people can expect to score 0.5-1GB or storage (and the winners of the scavenger hunts and other contests score even more). Keep an eye on Dropbox’s official blog for these time-sensitive events.

Access Dropbox From Your Mobile Devices

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As mobile devices increase in power the types of files they can handle also increases. Don’t overlook the utility of accessing Dropbox from your Android phone, iPad, and other mobile devices.

Use the default mobile interface. The easiest way to do so is to simple visit the Dropbox mobile portal located at Dropbox.com/m. You don’t have to be logged in on your mobile device to test it out, take the updated mobile interface for a spin right at your desk.

Install the Dropbox app for your mobile platform. While visiting the mobile portal is the fastest way to access your files, installing the official app for your platform is a better long term solution (and allows for syncing of files on the actual mobile device). Check out the official Dropbox apps for Android, iPhone, iPad, and BlackBerry. There is no official Windows Mobile Dropbox app; Windows Mobile users will want to check out DroppedBoxx, a third-party Dropbox app.

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Play your music anywhere. DropTunes is a free web app that syncs with Dropbox and, thanks to a dual Flash/HTML5 interface, can play your tunes anywhere you can access a web browser.

Use mobile apps that sync to Dropbox. Numerous applications include Dropbox support. Search the app store of your respective mobile device with the keyword “dropbox” to turn up applications that will sync/backup to Dropbox.

Tips and Tricks for Desktop Machines

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Syncing your documents and MP3s across your devices is a great trick and all, but you can do so much more with Dropbox. Rather than limit yourself to simple file syncing, try out some of the following tips.

Keep copies of your favorite portable apps in Dropbox (all platforms). A rather handy trick, and one that I use all the time, is storing your favorite portable apps in Dropbox. By doing so your favorite portable browser, text editor, and more, will always be available and in-sync across your computers.

Run multiple copies of Dropbox (Windows). Using the Dropboxen technique you can use multiple Dropbox accounts—a great way to keep a separate account for work and private use or to set up a secondary account for testing out apps and tricks before unleashing them on your primary one.

Run Dropbox as a portable app (Windows). You can, courtesy of DropboxPortableAHK, run Dropbox as a portable application with additional features such as selective sync and multiple accounts.

Sync any folder to Dropbox (Windows/Mac). Although you can easily move your Dropbox folder (look in the Dropbox application preferences to do so) what if you want to sync a folder outside of Dropbox? Mac users can check out MacDropAny to sync any folder. Windows users can check out Dropbox Folder Sync.

For more add-ons, including web browser add-ons and applications for Windows, Mac, and Linux, make sure to check out the add-ons wiki entry in the Dropbox wiki here.


After four years of service, Dropbox has amassed quite a following with quite an array of add-ons and applications. What’s your favorite Dropbox tip, trick, or app? Sound off in the comments to share the wealth with your fellow readers.  

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/25/11

Comments (32)

  1. Dafoo

    How bout some Windows Phone alternative, rather than Windows Mobile?

  2. kim

    Dude i just made a dropbox and the max Refer friends is 8GB Only!!!! is there another way to 16GB?

  3. gilteon

    @kim, as the article mentions, connecting an .EDU email address doubles the referral bonus and the max total referral bonus. To get the full 16GB bonus, you’ll need a .EDU email address.

  4. wolfencj

    @gilteon, is there an easy way to get a .edu email address?

  5. Tom

    Droptun.es leaves a copy of each played file in Public folder! you can easily fill your dropbox with duplicates!

  6. ben

    I just wish they would make their .edu requirement a bit lighter… University of Alberta uses @ualberta.ca…. sad face.

  7. Mack

    How do you link an .edu address to the account. I can’t find anyway to do it under the account settings.

  8. Will

    @ben

    They have been known to add other domains that are associated with qualified institutions. I’d email them and ask if yours would qualify.

  9. Will

    @Mack

    while logged in, visit http://www.dropbox.com/edu

  10. ben

    OH EM GEE!

    Thanks Will! It worked! And to think all I had to do was just ask… :)

  11. gilteon

    @Mack, go to your Dropbox Home on the website, click the ‘Account’ button in the upper right, go to the ‘Account Settings’ tab, and click the ‘(change)’ button next to your current email address. The URL for the account settings page is: https://www.dropbox.com/account#settings

    @wolfencj, the only ways I know of are to either be a student or an employee at a school of some kind (usually college or university in my experience [my highschool didn't have an .edu when I was there]).

  12. vivianx

    cool!

  13. the orangebox

    dropbox sux, sugarsync is much better for my friends and my file sharing needs

  14. Exitstageleft

    I don’t use dropbox because they keep their own crypto keys. They don’t ensure true data privacy. “Dropbox employees are prohibited from viewing the content of files you store in your Dropbox account, and are only permitted to view file metadata (e.g., file names and locations). Like most online services, we have a small number of employees who must be able to access user data for the reasons stated in our privacy policy (e.g., when legally required to do so)” They are “prohibited”. Right..??..

    SpiderOak, on the otherhand, can’t see your data because they don’t have the keys to enable that.

  15. Ryan

    @wolfencj very easy way, go to college… It comes with lots of other great benefits as well. My personal favorite is the $1 I save at the movies but free bus rides are also nice. You can really offset the cost of attendance by taking the bus to the movies on a regular basis.

  16. Roshnal

    I personally prefer SpiderOak and Ubuntu One than Dropbox. Although Ubuntu One is still fresh, it looks promising and the Web UI is really great. DropBox is a bit too much for my needs. Anyway its just my opinion.

  17. cpx

    @Exitstageleft

    If Dropbox won’t use their own crypto key it will lose it’s one of the most important features. That’s how it works – for example, you add a file, let it be movie, to your dropbox. It is uploaded and the hash of the file is stored on Dropbox sever. When other user puts the movie that is exactly is your in his own dropbox that movie isn’t being uploaded (remember, files are exactly the same), it is instead linked to 2 accounts – yours and other users.

    Simple and elegant way to reduce used space, isn’t it? If every user had his own key the hases of the same file would be different, thus requiring more HDD space.

  18. Hatryst

    You can also get free space by using my referral link to sign up for Dropbox :D

  19. JHH

    I don’t store any sensitive data on Dropbox due to the security concerns mentioned in Exitstageleft’s first post; however, as he points out in his next post, that’s the model that allows the service to offer free/low-cost online storage. So I use it to store non-sensitive data and tools that I use on client sites. It works great.

  20. Emily

    I often want to share cool articles like this, what’s the best way to do so? Many other sites have “Social Networking” or “Email This” share buttons at the bottom of articles… should I just copy/paste the permalink and email/post to friends?

    How about a H-T-G “What You Said: How you share H-T-G articles” :)

  21. Dave Haynes

    @Roshnal, DropBox is a bit too much for your needs? I’m not sure how much less it could be. I don’t use the web interface at all, though.

  22. Forensic Penguin2

    I use both dropbox and Ubuntu One. I prefer Ubuntu One, but Dropbox syncs faster. I don’t put anything there that is sensitive, unless it is encrypted.

  23. UniUbuntu

    Another desktop PC tip is to use syncdocs.com to sync Dropbox to Google Docs. That way your Google and Dropbox stuff stays in synch.

  24. Irishgreen

    Can I down load my “iTunes account to dropbox.???I have my iTunes acct.on my PC but I can’t get my iPod syn from my laptop to iTunes …can only syn & update from one PC/or laptop

  25. A

    hmm… I usually just use Windows Live Mesh. It works for my needs.

  26. Emily Sullivan

    @A, Windows Live Mesh only works if you have Windows 7 on all of your PC’s.

  27. Ziggurat Vertigo

    SpiderOak is secure! Because they say so! Sorry, but no, I don’t believe anyone when it comes to critical data. Truecrypt file containers for everything important. I don’t care of they read my My Little Pony/Star Trek crossover fan-fiction, but my banking stuff is for me.

    Dropbox is the best, period. I played with SpiderOak and was appalled by how slow it was, how infrequently it updated anything, and its relative clunkiness. There are others out there I won’t even try because I use a Mac, a Windows machine, and Linux machines every single day and I need something cross platform or I don’t bother. Dropbox doesn’t just meet my requirements, it’s the best I’ve tried.

  28. Eddie

    @Will
    Thanks got my edu upgrade

  29. Dr. Beverly Kurtin

    In addition to Dropbox (I use their application to synch with my Color Nook) I also use Amazon’s cloud. It offers 5 gigs to start with and for a mere $20 you can up your storage capability to 20 gigs; that’s a lot easier than begging others to go to Dropbox, but I do that, too.

    The main issue with me is that you can only upload ONE document at a time and videos can take quite a bit of time. But that is mostly a restriction that your carrier puts on your uploading.

    I use CLEAR. It can get a bit slow at time but it has a 99.999% up time. The only time it gets bad is when there us a really severe storm between you and the tower you are accessing. The reason I dropped cable that had much faster speeds is because it would constantly go down a a few seconds…and in those few seconds, of course you lost access to the net.

    It’s 4G system is nice, the only thing I do on a regular basis is to clean out the junk that gets accumulated, so I do a quick cleanup and everything zips along fast enough to keep me on their systen.

  30. James

    I simply contacted Dropbox Help and gave them the domain of my school email and their website for proof and they upgraded me to an educational account.

  31. Scaht

    No matter which solution you use, if you put anything sensitive into the cloud, it better be encrypted. As someone pointed out earlier, TrueCrypt is a great [FREE!] way to do this.

  32. Ratsttam

    Who cares about the keys on dropbox? I made a truecrypt file, and can mount that on any computer that’s synced to dropbox. While they may be able to see the file, it’s encrypted to no end with MY keys. So I always have a backup, and synched version of my truecrypt file. If you don’t know what it is, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s great for securing sections of your PC’s hdd, thumb drives, etc.
    truecrypt.org.

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