Steve Jobs famously tried to buy Dropbox, but the nine-digit offer was rejected. Jobs then dismissed the whole thing - "He said we were a feature, not a product", recalls Dropbox's Drew Houston - and decided to stomp the fledgling service into the ground.

But, despite Apple's best efforts, Dropbox isn't letting itself be stomped: last month its user numbers reached 175 million, and the firm has supplemented its file and folder APIs with data APIs, enabling mobile app developers to share data as well as files over the service.

That's important because, unlike some rivals, Dropbox is multi-platform. You can install it on a Mac or a PC, on a BlackBerry or a Kindle Fire, on an iPhone or iPad or Android device.

Universal file system

Different Dropbox options
Dropbox has lofty ambitions: it wants to be the file system for the entire internet

You can use it to sync and access music files, photos or movies, or you can use it as a hard drive in the sky, or you can use it for any other kind of of content: for example, apps such as the excellent Scrivener writing program work with Dropbox so all your notes and scribbles are available from any device, while Unbound and Heliog offer beautiful image browsing for your Dropbox photos.

Free accounts start with 2GB of space, and you can earn additional space by referring others: you get 500MB extra space for each referral, and you can get up to 18GB in total without paying a penny. Pro plans start at $9.99 per month for 100GB, $19.99 for 200GB or $49.99 for 500GB, and business plans start at $795 per year for five users.

You can also opt for Packrat, which saves old versions of files in case you need to refer to them later. That's $39 per year.

You can't fault Dropbox's ambition. The firm wants to become "the spiritual successor to the hard drive", the glue that binds all our different devices together and delivers what we want where and when we want it. Perhaps Steve Jobs should have raised his bid a little higher.


First published in PC Plus Issue 317. Read PC Plus on PC, Mac and iPad

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