There are a couple of cloud tools that I use to make my life easier and to increase my productivity. I’ve written before about using Dropbox to help share and sync your files with the cloud, but today I’d like to share another tip/tool that I use daily: Browser Sync.
As a web developer I’ve usually got several browsers open including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Thankfully, both of these browsers offer a neat option called Sync that lets you share your bookmarks (and other preferences) with yourself, on any computer.
This is handy because during the day any number of bookmark-able links come up but I haven’t got time to look at them. Or I may find a link that I need to save and install software from on another machine.
Using Firefox Sync and Google Chrome Sync, any bookmark I save will show up on any PC/Linux/Mac computer I use. No more E-Mailing myself links, no more USB keys, no more losing my bookmarks due to viruses or re-installing Windows.
But it’s not just bookmarks that can be shared securely. With Google Chrome sync you can sync your passwords, preferences, and extensions. That means if you buy a new laptop, the minute you sign into Google Chrome Sync, all your data and extensions are ready to roll. No installing required.
This is really powerful stuff and it’s exactly why the Internet and the cloud are changing the way we work and live. I’d like to hear how you use Browser Sync in your work/life in the comments below if you’d like to share.
Being a web developer, I usually use several different computers on different operating systems across the lifetime of any project. Personally, I have 5 computers plus one server: Access to a Vista PC, a Windows 7 virtualized installation, my main Mandriva Linux desktop, a Eee 701 PC with Eeebuntu, a Mandriva Linux laptop, and a FreeBSD development server.
Moving files from one computer to the next used to be a time-consuming and ultimately prohibitive process. If I wanted to, say, take a break from working on my PC and work at the Red Brick Cafe for a few hours, I’d have to download my work files to a USB memory card then export the MySQL database and do the same transfer again to the USB memory card.
Or, I could burn a CD. Of course, how does one get the updated files back off the laptop and onto the PC when arriving back at home? This arduous process basically meant that freedom of choice in the work environment was severely hampered and was often more trouble than it was worth. But not any more.
Dropbox is a free service that is basically a shared folder in the cloud. It makes sharing files amongst any computer, whether it be Mac, Linux, or Windows, easy as drag and drop. And I really mean that. I love things that speed up my work processes because the less time I spend in administration mode the more time I can accomplish tasks in programming mode. Dropbox exemplifies this manifesto.
Any file you put in the Dropbox folder on a computer will instantly be available on any computer that install Dropbox on. Even better, revisions are kept so if you make a mistake with a file and don’t have backups, you can pull the file in question from the archives to restore it. What makes Dropbox different from any other revision or archiving setup is that this is all done without any administration by the user. Literally if you drag a file into the folder, all this stuff is done for you. No committing changes, no crazy hoops to jump through.
Oh, and the 2GB storage starter account is completely free. It’s the one I use daily. I don’t even think I’ve hit 25% capacity yet.