Let’s talk Dropbox for a moment. It’s one of my favorite ways to store and share files. I know there are similar tools but there’s nothing like Dropbox. For starters, I can download the Dropbox App to all of my computers and mobile devices – and have access to my files from anywhere I have data or internet!
I use it to share files with colleagues, family, friends, and my virtual assistant most of all. If you haven’t gotten hip to outsourcing the things that overwhelm you, or even the things that you just down-right don’t have time for, you need a virtual assistant. I’ve been working with mine for TEN YEARS and it was the best decision ever for my business.
If you have a virtual assistant and you share files using Dropbox, you definitely want to know about this file-sharing hack!
Here’s the Problem – Storage Space
If you’re a Dropbox Plus user, you’ve got a terabyte of storage space. That’s plenty of room for you to access to a large volume of files. You’ll be able to put all of your files there and live in file-storing paradise!
But what if you start working with someone who only has the free version of Dropbox with two gigs of space? If your workflow includes sharing large files or graphics back in forth in a shared folder, you might have a problem.
There’s a bit of a “catch” with Dropbox – when you share a Dropbox folder to someone else’s Dropbox account, it takes up storage space on both yours and their account! If they don’t have Dropbox Plus with that volume of storage space, you end up with a bit of a issue in terms of sharing files and folders and using the functionality of Dropbox with them.
I recently received a question from a student in reference to this issue. In the video below, I will show show you the solution that I came up with for her to work with her virtual assistant. Similar to the details we’ve discussed so far, her virtual assistant doesn’t have a paid Dropbox account and therefore doesn’t have the space required to share files through her Dropbox account with her boss. Or, keep reading for the text version of the explanation!
Here’s the Solution – Sending the Files to Your Virtual Assistant
Instead of sharing a folder with someone, you can send them a link to download the contents of that folder. First, go to the files area in your Dropbox account.
Next, find the folder you want to share and click on the share icon or share button. Once you click share you can choose create a link. When you create this link you can copy it and send it to your virtual assistant to download files from the folder. On the recipient’s end they’d just click on download and direct download to save files to their computer and not to their Dropbox account.
Following these steps to file-sharing makes it really simple to allow someone to receive files from your Dropbox account without it taking up space in their Dropbox account. Instead they can download files directly to their computer to work on them.
Here’s the Solution – Receiving Files from Your Virtual Assistant
Now, I know what you’re asking now.
What happens when they’ve worked on those files and want to send it back to me? How do they do that?
Since there’s no room for your files inside of their Dropbox account, you’ll take a slightly different approach.
You can open up a portal that receives files from this person. And I don’t mean like an alien abduction portal. Just a file-receiving portal!
Here’s how you’ll do it: If you’re on the Dropbox homepage you’ll click on files on the left, and then file requests. Next you’ll click create a file request.
You can name the file request according to what you’re working on. It could be the name of the project, or it could be called something like “Virtual Assistant Files”. Whatever you name it, it’s going to create a folder by that name inside the File Requests folder.
Whatever your virtual assistant “drops” into the File Request portal will appear in your Dropbox account, inside the File Requests folder, in the folder named for that file request.
Note that you can also change the destination folder to be something else, so that the files uploaded by your virtual assistant go to a specific place of your choosing instead of a folder that’s created.
Also note that if you have Dropbox for Business you can actually add an upload deadline! I’m sure there are loads of practical applications for an file upload portal that closes on a certain date.
Once you’re done naming your file request and choosing the destination for the file uploads to come, click next. Then, Dropbox will give you a link to copy and provide to the person you’re requesting files from. You can simply compose an email and paste this link to send the link off to the person you need files from. (You can even send this link via messenger!)
Take a peek at the video demo at timestamp 3:35 to see what that portal looks like from the recipient’s point of view as well as how they’ll be able to upload files for you.
When the person is uploading their files, they are prompted to provide their name. That name actually gets added to the file names of the files they are uploading! I think this feature is so smart on Dropbox’s part – I was recently reading a in Dropbox help forum about a teacher who sent out a File Request link so his students could submit a large homework file, and each submitted file included the students’ names. Great feature, right?!
There you have it. The ultimate workaround for sharing and receiving files from your virtual assistant when they have limited Dropbox space. Use this tutorial to see how to get the files you need, and don’t hesitate to share it with your colleague, or your virtual assistant to show them how to upload files for a file request folder you’ve created.