July 26, 2011, 8:20 AM — Dropbox, when it's working and you feel good about it, is that kind of advanced technology that's indistinguishable from magic. You drop a file into a folder, and it's available on the web, on your other machines, and on your phone, often with multiple version backups. But the curtain has been drawn back on Dropbox's conjury lately, with Terms of Service (TOS) changes, a brief but scary any-password-opens-any-account moment, and then another TOS change that left many confused.
It might be the case, then, that you don't want to trust just one blue-hued box for your file syncing. Your clients might have concerns about their data being stashed on a third party's servers, or you might just be a fan of redundancy. In any case, it's not that hard to create a kind of Dropbox clone that relies on your systems and your bandwidth, but provides the same kind of drop-and-forget peace of mind.
You've got a few options, depending on your proficiencies and desire to tweak. Lifehacker points us to a very complete, in-depth guide at Fak3r.com to rolling your own open source Dropbox clone. If you're already pretty familiar with SSH, rsync, and basic Linux/Unix networking, it's a viable option. For the rest of us, other tech firms have already built some tools that we just have to connect together.
Microsoft, for instance. Windows can mount remote network drives as if they were local folders, and the Redmond firm offers every Windows Live users 25 GB of storage space through their SkyDrive service. So why not connect the two? Microsoft doesn't officially offer it, but all one needs to do is open or create some kind of document, then choose "Save to Web." Choose SkyDrive, then, when Windows' own Explorer window pops up to help you choose your location, click at the end of the path, then select and copy the long URL string from that window. You may have to hit the View menu on that Explorer window to show the address, but in any case, copy it with Ctrl+C, then also paste it into, say, a Notepad scratch file.