Protecting Dropbox folders at work?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Soundhound, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    #1
    I use Dropbox for work, and for my own writing/work I do on my own. I have dropbox everywhere (I love it) on my imac at work, my laptop, imac, ipad, iphone at home and everywhere I go.

    My iMac at work is not really secure (though i do have a password for the imac) and I worry that folders could wind up getting deleted etc. Not on purpose, but during some maintenance etc? All my writing is in dropbox and that's the folder I worry most about losing. So I've been choosing not to keep that folder, through dropbox preferences, on the work imac. It is inconvenient at times though, and I'd like to be able to keep that folder available there.

    Is there some way I can protect that folder, or perhaps the whole dropbox folder, from being interfered with by anyone but me. Some way to do that that wouldn't interfere with any Dropbox functionality?

    thanks!
     
  2. Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

    Joined:
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    #2
    If the computer is owned and administrated by someone else, there is probably nothing to you can do to stop them from deleting a folder. They will always have higher permission levels than you.
     
  3. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    #3
    Have you tried logging out of Dropbox at the end of the day?

    It'll protect your files on the cloud.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    #4
    That's a good idea. Only problem is I sometimes work from home and can have someone grab a file I've done off my computer when I'm not there.

    Though I've never done that. I always just email the file... hmmm....

     
  5. macrumors 603

    Joined:
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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #5
    This may be a question that should be sent to the Dropbox people... I'd be interested in the answer too. It might make an interesting feature request, if it does not exist.

    Essentially, I think you want the ability to manually synch your work computer. That is to say.... you show up at work, and you tap the "Synch Now" button and anything not yet synched gets synched. Then you can just work away as usual. Ideally, at the end of the day, you would do another "Synch Now" to push the changes out to the rest of the devices. It would be nice to be able to remotely trigger a "Synch Now" though, in case you forget before you get home.... or if you want to synch the work computer for a colleague to retrieve a document while you are home.

    ------

    Or.... does Time Machine backup the Dropbox folder? If Dropbox is accidentally deleted at work, I'd think you'd be able to recover the files into Dropbox once you had re-enabled it on the work computer. The Time Machine could be at home and not at work to ensure you had control of it (i.e. So Admin doesn't decide to disconnect Time Machine the week before they cleared up the Dropboxes.)
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2003
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    #6
    Just spitballing here . . .

    You could arrange all your Dropbox data into two folders; private and work. From home, snd yourself a link for the work folder. At work, don't login to Dropbox, just open the link you sent yourself.

    Perhaps a related way is to make another Dropbox account at work and share your work folder with that account.
     
  7. macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2002
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #7
    The second way is what I was going to suggest.

    On your current dropbox account move all your work stuff in a separate dropbox subfolder called Work Files or whatever you want.

    Create a new Dropbox account for work with a separate work email address.

    Log onto your home Dropbox account on the dropbox web interface, right mouse click on the Work Files folder and choose invite to folder. Enter the email details for your work dropbox account.

    Then in your work email account follow the instructions in the email send by dropbox, which then adds the Work Files folder you shared to your Work Dropbox account. Now any files that you put in that folder will sync through your home and your Work dropbox accounts. The Work dropbox account never sees any of your personal dropbox files.

    If you any reason you need to access any of your personal files at work, just use the web interface to log into your home account.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    #8
    Thanks all!!

    I like the idea of only accessing my personal writing stuff at work through dropbox on the web. The only problem there is it involved downloading things and then uploading them after they've been worked on. Not the end of the world, but it'd be great to have that 'virtual' folder with me at work.

    I really like the 'sync now' function idea, with the ability to invoke it remotely. Very elegant and cool solution.

    I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too. :rolleyes:
     
  9. macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2002
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #9
    Well I was assuming that you only very rarely worked on your personal stuff at work, hence the Web solution would be ok for the few times that you needed it. If not can I work were you work please :)
     
  10. macrumors P6

    Intell

    Joined:
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    #10
    Don't forget you can use Dropbox's backup and restore feature. If someone does delete all of your Dropbox items, just login to the Dropbox site and restore them or an older version.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    #11
    Absolutely, yes thanks. I use Time Machine at home, and I also use CrashPlan, a service that backs stuff up remotely. So I'm covered in case of some disaster (I hope!)

    I was hoping to just have the same kind of don't-have-to-think-about-it ease of use with my writing files here at work as I do at home. Is there such a thing as putting a password on specific folders in OSX? I'm thinking that just that, keeping anyone from getting into the files or erasing them accidentally would be enough.

    Is there an OSX solution for something like that?




    ----------

    Ha! you're right I don't do it all that much. If I start doing it a lot, I'll let you know where to send your resume!

     
  12. macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #12
    Just one final thought, I don't know where you work or how relaxed your boss is about having personal files on a work computer, but if you were working for me and I discovered that one of my employees had a load of personal files on his work computer (normally discovered as a result of someone in IT doing some maintenance work on your computer) then I might wonder how much time he has been spending on his personal projects rather than working for me.

    I have not touched on the fact that some companies might have an issue with work stuff being on a cloud service like dropbox anyway. Might not be an issue in your case, but I just wanted to highlight the issue.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    #13
    What are you, the hall monitor?

     
  14. macrumors 68040

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #14
    I think this is the most simple and straightforward method.

    /Jim
     
  15. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #15
    This actually a really good point. If what you work may be considered "sensitive" it may be a firing offence if you have "shared" them on the cloud. My wife has been telecommuting for years. One job required her to have a lockable file cabinet and a door on her home office. No.. they never checked. But if she had ever shared that stuff to Dropbox she would have been fired on the spot had they ever noticed.

    This despite the fact that I think Dropbox is safer than carrying around flash drive that could get lost....
     
  16. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    #16
    Yes I considered all that, thanks. I'm sure it's outside what is technically permissible, but if it were found out it wouldn't be that big a deal. If it would even be an issue, which I'm not sure it would. I'm not opening up access to any of their servers etc, just the files I'm worki g on, which I need to be able to access remotely often.

    Back to the thread, is there any way right within OSX to give a folder a pass code that wouldn't interfere with Dropbox functionality?



     
  17. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #17
    As long as you are aware... not everyone would. The risk/benefit calculation is up to you.

    -------------

    It seems to me that with your backups and the Dropbox recovery options you shouldn't have to worry. Your problem description sounded more of "just in case" - which makes the possibility of someone wiping your work Mac sound remote. You may spend more time designing a system to make recovery redundant, than actually just using the tools you already have to simply recover from the files being deleted.

    If you want your co-workers to have occasional access on an encrypted folder, then they have to have the password - which makes the security, well - less than secure. And if you want the files secure then you need to accept that on those occasions the co-workers won't have access.

    If you simply want to secure the files, try an encrypted DMG file in the dropbox. A DMG can enclose a bunch of nested folders. But you need to remember to unmount it when you leave work.

    Or... if you simply want painless backup, set the Dropbox folder to automatically copy it's contents to another - non-Dropbox - folder on your home system. This will maintain an exact duplicate (so space hungry). But... should someone delete work dropbox all you have to do is drag and drop the spare back into Dropbox.
     
  18. James Craner, Jan 10, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013

    macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2002
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #18
    An encrypted folder may be one way of doing it - this guide explains how. Sounds like a hassle to me though each time you want to access your files. Also I don't know how Dropbox would handle this as it may see the disk image as one large file, which may increase sync times. But to be honest you are likely to have that problem whatever protection mechanism you come up with.

    Edit - Great minds think alike snberk103 :)
     
  19. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    #19
    Thanks to both great minds. :cool:

    Yes I do think the chance of anything happening is remote. I've had it set up this way for a year and a half and it's been fine. It is a just in case solution I'm looking for. Encrypting does seem like it could be too much in this case.

    The idea of creating a regular backup elsewhere on the HD seems smart. Could you point me toward how that's done, just what its called perhaps and figure it out.

    The other thing that I think would be good solution, is just a simple password to lock the folder from being opened or moved etc, doesn't matter if its not that secure, just to keep something from happening accidentally. Is there such a thing right n OSX that you know of?
     
  20. macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2002
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #20
    For backing up your hard drive at home, I have a guide together for Time Machine that you can read here.

    There is no built in way to lock a folder via password that I know of, with the exception of encrypted folders already discussed. There may be some 3rd Party solution, but none that springs to mind. Apple have a technology called file vault to encrypt the entire drive, but it is an all or nothing approach.
     
  21. macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #21
    Could be worth using "Selective Sync" (it's in the advanced options of Dbox) to only have certain things sync to your office computer. Or simply use the web interface at work, though that isn't a very fun option.
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    #22
    I do just this at my office — I have an encrypted disk image file that I keep writing in, and have synced through Dropbox. Dropbox does indeed replace that whole disk image when you unmount it, but it seems to go pretty quickly as I think it just uploads the part of the file that's different. In any case, my work connection is lightning fast so it doesn't much matter. A couple of things about doing it this way:

    - you won't see versions in Dropbox of individual files inside your encrypted disk image, just versions of the WHOLE disk image.

    - it won't sync the contents of the disk image until you close and unmount it. In other words, leave that disk image mounted at work, and you won't see from home any of the changes made to files within it.

    - if you want the disk image to be private, make sure to never check "remember" for the password to it when mounting in the Finder, otherwise anyone with access to the Mac can just mount it.

    - create the disk image as a .sparseimage and the file will only be as large as the contents. (In other words, make a .dmg file with 100MB capacity and 25MB of stuff inside, and it will take up 100MB. Create a .sparseimage file that holds up to 100MB, put 25MB of stuff inside, and it will take up ~25MB)
     
  23. macrumors member

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    May 8, 2009
  24. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    #24
    Logging off is probably your best solution here. If you log out of dropbox on your work computer after it finishes syncing at the end of the day, all of those files will still be available to you on your home computer (and they'll still be on your work computer)... they just won't sync on your work computer until you log back in. This would protect you from someone else making changes to your files while you're away from your work computer.
     
  25. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #25
    It would be nice if they offered the option of password protecting the settings on the desktop app for both OSX and Windows.

    I have work folders on machines that multiple people use and if they had that one option so someone couldn't go in and turn on other folders to sync, it would solve a lot of problems and make it much more useful.
     

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