As of version 0.7.97, Dropbox has an extremely useful feature called LAN sync. Basically the way it works is that, when enabled, after a file is updated on one computer, it syncs with the Dropbox servers. Then, when other computers that are synchronizing the same files go to download the changes or new file, they first check the local network to determine if the file exists on a computer logged into the same Dropbox account. If it finds it, then it downloads it from that computer on the local network instead of from the Dropbox server.
I have three computers that are syncing, two of them always at home and the laptop that is out and about. So this is excellent news, since any changes I make while I am out only need to be downloaded once at home, or if I’m at home, all the computers will sync without needing to download much data from the internet. This is especially useful with big files because it means reduced internet bandwidth usage and quicker synchronisation times.
It is also great for that first synchronisation of a new computer. Just make sure it’s on the same network as another computer with all the files and it will sync them from that computer instead of from the Dropbox server. This is especially great when you have a lot of data to sync!
I was already won over by Dropbox compared to some of the alternatives, however this feature just makes it even more of a winner in my books!
One of the technical notes is that the computers must be on the same broadcast mask. Usually this is the case particularly on small networks so shouldn’t be an issue for most users. The other thing to note is that if your Dropbox has updated itself to that version or newer from an older version, LAN sync may not be enabled. To enable it, just open up your preferences and check the “Enable LAN sync” box.