Dropbox to make syncing optional on computers

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Dropbox to make syncing optional on computers

A new technology will allow users to access Dropbox cloud accounts that have more capacity than the storage on their Mac or Windows computers.

From the user's perspective, Dropbox's 'Project Infinite' means a Dropbox account will appear to work pretty much as it always did, but with one important change: not all files need to be physically located on users' local storage.

Items that have been synced locally are displayed with the familiar green tick. All the other items in the Dropbox account will appear with a cloud badge.

Basically, the way it will work is that the cloud items' metadata – the name, size, creation date, directory structures and so on – are all stored locally, while the files themselves stay on Dropbox's servers until they are needed.

So you'll be able to dig around in Windows' File Explorer and OS X's Finder to your heart's content, including reorganising files and folders.

It's a feature that will be particularly useful for large-capacity business accounts and users of laptops with low-capacity Solid State Drives.

As you'll see in Dropbox's demonstration video (below), 10TB of shared storage can be represented in less than 30MB of local storage.

But when you open a cloud file, Dropbox automatically syncs it to the computer and passes it to the relevant application.

And if you know you're going to need certain files when you don't have network access, just right-click on files or folders and select 'Save local copy'.

All this will work in Windows 7 and later, and OS X 10.9 and later. There's no mention of when it will be available, but Dropbox did say this new capability is already being used by a few customers.

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