Trinity College Dropbox Service unlocked

About the Dropbox...

Dropbox is a system for sending large files to other persons. It is better to use Dropbox than to attempt to e-mail large files.

E-mail messages with large attachments frequently overload e-mail servers and the recipient's computer. Downloading such e-mail message can take hours on a slow Internet connection. Since messages are generally downloaded in order, other messages will not be received until the huge message is fully downloaded. In some cases, the download will fail every time and there will be no way to skip it. This prevents the receipient from receiving any e-mail until a system administrator is found who can delete the offending message.

Transfering large files as e-mail attachements is also inefficient because of the way they are 'packaged' when attached to the message. The 'packaging' can increase the size of the message (and hence the transfer time) by 40%.

For these reasons, it is suggested that files larger than 1MB should be sent using Dropbox rather than by e-mail.

There are two distinct kinds of users that will be accessing any given instance of the Dropbox system: inside users, who are associated with the organization running the service, and outside users, which encompasses the rest of the Internet. An inside user is allowed to use Dropbox to send files to anyone, inside or outside of the organization. An outside user is only allowed to use Dropbox to send files to persons within the organization.

System Limits

Maximum Size Per File4.0 GB
Maximum Total Size4.0 GB
Files Kept For14 days

These limits are explained in more detail below.

Dropping Off Files

A person dropping off files enters return-address information (name, organization, and e-mail address) and the recipient's address information (name and e-mail address) and chooses the files to be uploaded to the Dropbox. If the files are successfully uploaded, an e-mail is sent to the recipient indicating that a drop-off has been made and explaining how to retrieve it. These instructions include a link to the Dropbox page and a 16-character passcode that the user must enter to gain access to the files. The IP address and hostname of the sender's computer will also be included.

Picking Up Files

There are two ways to pick-up files that have been dropped-off:

The following information is displayed on a Dropbox page:

The recipient has 14 days to pick-up the files. Each night, drop-offs that are older than 14 days are purged from the system.

Please note that the Dropbox system does not scan the files for viruses. You should take precautions such as:

Resumable Downloading of Files

Some web browsers support resumable downloads. Imagine this scenario: you're sitting at your local coffee shop, downloading a 50MB PDF that a student uploaded to Dropbox for you. Suddenly, someone a few tables away starts watching the latest HD movie trailer (well, attempting to, anyway) and your wireless connection drops — you were 45MB into the download, and now you have to start over! Not so, if your browser can resume interupted downloads in which case, the browser requests only the remaining 5MB of the file. Dropbox 2 features support for the server-side components of resumable download technology under the HTTP 1.1 standard. If you're a Safari, Opera, or OmniWeb user then rest assured, you can resume interrupted downloads, we've tested it!

File Size Limitations

There are several factors which may limit the size our your uploads. The first is that some web browsers cannot upload files larger than 2 GB. These are the results of testing some popular browsers:

 BrowserUploads > 2 GB?
Safari 2.x YES
Safari 3.x YES
OmniWeb 5.5 YES
Firefox 1.5 NO
Firefox 2.0 NO
Opera 9.x NO
Internet Explorer 7 NO
Firefox 2.0 NO
Opera 9 YES

The second factor is the limits which the system administrator has set in Dropbox. Your system administrator has limited drops to 4.0 GB per file and 4.0 GB total for the entire dropoff.

Failed Uploads and Downloads

You may experience the following problems when dropping off or picking up a large file:

These problems most likely indicate that your internet connection is too slow or uneven and the browser has decided that the transfer has ceased to progress.

Using the Dropbox as a Web-form-processing Agent

Do you want visitors to your website to be able to send you files? Using the Dropobox Referral Service you can point a web form containing file upload controls to Dropbox. You will receive the files in Dropbox. You will receive one additional file (in XML, text, or HTML format) containing the data from any additional form fields which you may have placed on the page.

[php5] Based upon the original Perl UD Dropbox software written by Doke Scott. Version 2.0 has been rewritten in PHP5 with an extended feature set by Jeff Frey.

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