Friday, 3 January 2014

Dropbox to the rescue!

What a saga...and what a relief to get back to blogging, albeit after midnight! I've had a frustrating day. An abortive visit to PC World, then a whole afternoon and evening wasted trying to find a workaround for not being able to use the SD card slot on my tablet any more.

I don't expect anyone really wants to hear any of what follows, but I won't sleep unless I get it off my chest.

A few posts ago (see Boxing Day) I mentioned how upset I got when the SD card slot failed on my Sony Tablet S. I'd been using an SD card for a regular comprehensive backup of the Word documents and Excel spreadsheets on the tablet, some 650 of them. Sony had a convenient app that let me copy files to the card. Then they could in turn be copied to the PC. Every three days. It sounds a bit of a rigmarole, but it wasn't. And it let me perform a proper backup (to at least a card) even when on holiday. Losing the card slot was a real blow.

But I still had some alternatives.

I could, if home, use a micro-USB cable to copy files from the tablet to the PC. And it might also work when away from home, with my olde and trustye laptop. But the snag here was that the micro-USB socket on the tablet wasn't terribly robust. In fact it looked distinctly fragile. Too much use, and I could see problems developing. And I wanted that micro-USB socket to be fully functioning when the time came (in 2016 perhaps) to replace the Sony with a newer tablet. It would be needed for some bulk file transfers to the PC or laptop, before reloading it all onto the new tablet.

Bluetooth was of course available as a standby, but it was awfully slow, and each and every file had to be OK'd. In addition to the 650 Word and Excel files on the tablet, I also had 3,400 selected photos. It would take a very long time to deal with all of that by Bluetooth.

Then there was the cloud. Some cloud storage was free, if the amount to be used were small. I'd heard of Dropbox. And I'd heard of Google Drive. The only quibble I had was that if my files were placed on the Internet, someone would find them and look at them. I wasn't keen on that idea. On the other hand, sensitive stuff like bank account information wasn't going to be sent to the cloud. So I kept the notion of online backup and storage up my sleeve.

I definitely preferred to get that SD card slot repaired, if it could be done at reasonable cost.

So this morning I was up early and drove over to PC World in Hove. I was seen straight away: a good sign. Thereafter the experience was not nearly so good. Was the tablet still under guarantee? If it had been, we'd have sent it straight off to Sony. We can't repair it ourselves, you know. It's a sealed unit, see?

They could only recommend a local firm who had the means to open it up and investigate what might be done. That firm would charge £30 for taking a peek and then resealing my tablet, if a repair were uneconomic. PC World wouldn't say how much this firm might end up charging me if a repair could be done. But it sounded like a lot. I felt they weren't really interested. Discouraged, I thanked them and walked away. It seemed clear that I'd best live with the slot not working, and save myself a minimum of £30. PCW were polite, but they had hardly lived up to their 'KnowHow' blurb. They had passed the buck.

I went home, and for the next few hours (when I should have been doing something much more useful) I played with the idea of an incremental backup routine using Bluetooth. But all this did was to mess up the Bluetooth pairings between the tablet, my phone, and my laptop. Yes, it reduced me to tears again.

Finally I conceded. I must embrace the cloud.

I chose Dropbox. Google Drive had a larger free allowance, but I didn't want to convert my many files to Google Document format, whereas Dropbox worked with most formats. My free Dropbox allowance was actually not the normal 2.0GB but 2.5GB, because one of my friends had (some time ago, and unknown to me) put me forward as a potential Dropbox user. How prescient of her! The extra 0.5GB of online storage space was my 'reward' for now becoming a customer, albeit one who wasn't going to be paying anything if she could avoid it. (I was in fact well within my free allowance - I needed only 80MB for my document and spreadsheet backup)

It was easy to set up my files - first in bulk on the PC, taking them from the last comprehensive backup on 29 December; then updating some twenty of them from the files on the tablet. It was good to know that PC, tablet and phone would all now display the same files in their individual Dropbox folders. No more tears of woe. Problem solved. Thank goodness.


  1. Welcome to the cloud! I went for Google Drive as the 15GB allowance is comfortably more than I need. You don't have to convert your files, Lucy; it's just that any Google docs you have don't count towards your allowance. My drive is populated with .doc, .jpeg, .ppt and .ppp files.

  2. Computers are great whilst they are working but a pain in the proverbial when things go wrong. Glad to see you have found an agreeable solution

    Shirley Anne x


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