In my last article, I came up with 6 remarkable tools that automate your Dropbox. There is some hidden potential to alleviate you from the most tedious, time-consuming tasks in your business. So, if you find you are spending too much of your time in managing and organizing your files in Dropbox, check out this article and consider if one or two of these Dropbox automations could be a game changer for you.
But, having tools handy is not enough. If you don’t know how to use them right, tools are nothing but a status quo thing.
I am interested in the more serious tech tricks – the kind of improvements that really make a difference in an entrepreneur’s life. All too often I come across automation praises that turn out to be nothing more than the noise the Internet produces anyway.
With this article, I want to add to the useful contributions that automation can provide to a business.
We have entered the automation age, and we cannot escape it. You don’t want to be the business owner who refuses work enhancements while all your customers & competitors running on this track. We need to face the very fact that we are amidst an exponential growth of automation – with all its good and bad sides.
“Fast forward 5 years from now, we will be shocked when we hear of companies operating outside of business automation and IoT!”
Tools Are Not The Problem, Processes Are
We all have differing working styles. And depending on a business’ type and business’ setup, not every automated workflow is going to work for everyone else. If you look around the web for inspiration, it will be most likely that whatever you find will need a tweak or two.
Whilst in another article I introduced 6 absolute powerful tools that help you with automating tasks in and around your Dropbox, I am now giving you a few examples what you can actually do with these tools. All it sometimes needs is a little inspiration, and you find a personalized workaround for a long-time tedious task. The biggest challenge for an entrepreneur is not to find the right tools for automation. The biggest challenge is to identify and track down the processes and figure out how to streamline them.
7 Innovative Dropbox Automations You Can Implement For Your Business
With the following automation examples, I want to inspire you to think through whether you can change something in a workflow to get rid of tasks that only exhaust you. All examples in this post are Dropbox automations.
Dropbox is a favorite cloud data storage for many. But it shouldn’t be hard to apply these tweaks to an alternative data storage provider, if you aren’t fond of Dropbox.
Automation Hack #1
Email files to Dropbox as attachments
Sometimes we are or want to be offline, but would appreciate if important files get stored to where they belong.
With SendToDropbox.com you can send files to a custom email address as attachments. The files will be stored in your Attachments folder in your Dropbox.
Automation Hack #2
Upload files from links to Dropbox
With URL Droplet, documents that are accessible online (like pdf, or doc) can be sent straight to a Dropbox folder of your choice.
Automation Hack #3
Request a file from a client or co-worker
It happens occasionally that we need access to a file, but it is either too large for email, or our inbox is already too full and we don’t have the time resources for a major clean out. Dropbox has a great feature for that, called File Request.
This allows you to create a special single-purpose folder for others to upload files to you, without the need to share a folder with them. You can even set a deadline for the file request to have the file request link expire – which can be useful.
Tip: There are external tools that provide just this functionality, like SendItToMe.com or DBinbox.
Yet, a little caution is always appropriate. From a confidentiality perspective, I’d recommend you first check whether an inbuilt features fulfills your needs before you connect your application (e.g., Dropbox) with a 3rd party tool. One fewer door that is open into your file storage means a lower risk.
Automation Hack #4
Transfer or mirror files to another cloud storage
One common concern with cloud storage providers is, that it is quite easy to run out of space. Dropbox’ free account comes with 2 GB storage size, that fills up easily if you use it to save a lot of your images and photos.
But professionals face the very same problem. If you are reluctant of switching into a paid plan, you will have to do something about it.
Your options are that you either
- transfer your biggest files,
- the most important one’s, or
- certain project-related files into another cloud storage.
With Google Drive, you get a capacity of 15 GB of free storage space, which is obviously more generous than the 2 GB Dropbox provides for free. But that’s just one option, and there are a few cloud storage places that give you reasonable free storage space, even though I know of none that is as generous as Google and allows for decent automation.
To set up an automation that transfers or mirrors certain files from your Dropbox, you need to register with IFTTT which is a tool free to use. Within IFTTT you connect your Google and your Dropbox account and start to create what is called a recipe.
A recipe is an if-this-than-that-automation rule that is designed to alleviate you from tedious and tiresome tasks. — Below are two examples of such a recipe.
Automation Hack #5
Backup A Website
Backing up your website is a must for a website owner. If until now you couldn’t be bothered, I warmly recommend getting into the habit of regularly backing up your website. There are too many online attacks going on, and you don’t want to wake up one day and realize your source of income (=your website) has become unusable.
WordPress today covers more than 25 percent of all websites on the web. Many website owners neglect security for their WordPress website, even though it is really not hard at all to have regular backups scheduled. All you need to do is to install a free plugin like BackWPUp. It can connect to your Dropbox account and store the backup files from your websites straight into a Dropbox folder of your choice.
Automation Hack #6
Security copies of shared folders
Not everybody is a techie. I sometimes do projects with people that aren’t very tech-savvy. Their strengths are somewhere else, and that’s ok, too. But when it comes to organizing the tech-related stuff, there are all kinds of tech challenges popping up.
I particularly experienced this with Dropbox, and I found that collaboration with less tech-savvy people ends up with accidentally deleted files.
Even though there’s a 30 day recovery time for accidentally deleted files in the free plan, it’s still a little cumbersome to be bound by these 30 days. Plus, there is too much communication going back and forth.
The solution for this is to create automated security backups whenever a file is uploaded to a certain folder. For this workaround, you again need to connect IFTTT to Dropbox and create a recipe that copies any newly added file into a safety folder that isn’t accessible to others.
If you have more than one folder that stores the files you collaborate on, you need to create the appropriate amount of recipes. Which each recipe you can address only one folder. (Yes, it’s a bit work, but it’s worth it!)
Automation Hack #7
Monitor a Dropbox folder & Convert files
CloudConvert’s folder monitoring feature is a powerful tool to make your workflow more efficient. You can set up special folders in your Dropbox (but it works as well in GoogleDrive). Every time you add a file to this folder, it will be automatically converted into a chosen output format with your customized options.
CloudConvert is an exceptional tool in the automation landscape. As of today, it supports 214 different formats for conversion. There is a limited amount of files that you can convert with the free account. But, the prepaid package as well as the subscription plan, are affordable.
If the Folder Monitoring feature is just what you’ve been looking for, you need to get at least the prepaid package. Its quota never expires and you can pay as you go, which makes it an affordable no-risk investment.
Tips: I want to share with you a few examples of what you can achieve here.
The first task is about mass-creation of PDFs. You could have all files inside this folder converted into the PDF-format.
A second use case is that you could encrypt added PDF files with a password.
A third possibility could be that you could resize added images to a specific size. This is particularly useful if you are creating a lot of custom-sized graphics for your social media channels. I know some people who use iPad or iPhones apps like WordSwag or Typorama and create stunning graphics for all their social media networks with these apps. To have properly sized images in their Dropbox and being able to access them with their mobile devices any time speeds up the creation process significantly.
Maybe you are already aware of the pressing need to streamline some of your business processes. Every growing business goes through this phase of struggle and missing critical pieces. Sometimes, when you hear people talking about their software and what they use to automate their businesses, you wonder what's best for you. There are so many tools becoming available all the time. And it is difficult to evaluate whether the software you are using is really serving your business.
I am now offering a custom designed program called the Silver Tech Package. It is a service that is designed for the specific needs of growing online businesses. If you need someone who not only understands the struggle of small online businesses and the technology they need but who is also able to implement and execute the work, drop me a line.