By Jason Snell
April 26, 2016 12:37 PM PT
Dropbox solves the Terabyte Conundrum with Project Infinite
Back in 2014, I wrote about the strange fact that my Dropbox storage allocation is bigger than my hard drive, making it impossible for me to sync the entire contents of my Dropbox with my computer1.
On Tuesday at an event in London, Dropbox previewed a new feature it calls Project Infinite, which aims to solve a familiar problem:
The amount of information being created and shared has exploded, but most people still work on devices with limited storage capacity. While teams can store terabyte upon terabyte in the cloud, most individuals’ laptops can only store a small fraction of that. Getting secure access to all the team’s data usually means jumping over to a web browser, a clunky user experience at best.
With this new feature, Dropbox users on Mac or Windows will be able to double-click on a file that’s not stored locally, and it will be downloaded and opened in place. You’ll be able to browse an entire Dropbox storage area without having it all stored locally, right in the Finder, and even control-click on files and folders to force them to be stored locally for offline access. Files that are stored locally have a green checkbox badge, while files that are in the cloud have a little cloud badge.
This is good. I want this feature.
It’s unclear about who will get this feature, and when—it’s “already deployed with a select number of sponsor customers,” whatever that means. Its introduction at a Dropbox Business conference and in the Dropbox Business blog makes you wonder if this is even intended as a feature for non-Enterprise Dropbox users. But it seems far too useful to be limited to just the biggest-ticket Dropbox customers—it’s a feature that improves Dropbox’s core product. It needs to be everywhere.
For more, check out Dropbox’s video on the subject, which features a funny throwback to old-school attitudes about the Mac: “Ah, but graphic design. They’re still on—they always use OS X. It works on OS X, too.” Now that’s a narrator who is committed to the old narrative that it’s just designers who are “still on” the Mac and haven’t yet seen the light and converted to Windows… Sigh.
There are other options, of course, that offer more flexibility—BitTorrent Sync and SpaceMonkey come to mind, though I’ve really grown accustomed to Dropbox and would like to keep using it. ↩
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