Most regular readers of ProfHacker know that we like Dropbox. We’ve featured several posts about it (see, for example, these posts by JasonRyan, and Brian). But just in case you are new to ProfHacker, in a nutshell Dropbox is a cloud-based service that syncs data across different computers and allows you to access your files on any computer that either has the Dropbox software installed or has access to the internet. Users who register with Dropbox are given 2GB of storage space for free. If you sign-up with a referral from a current user, you are automatically granted an extra 250MB of storage, and if you complete the Dropbox tutorial (which takes all of 60 seconds), you are given another 500MB. If you then refer other people to Dropbox, you will earn more free space for each person who completes the registration process–users can earn up to 8GB through referrals and the tutorial for a grand total of 10GB of storage space–for free.

If you are a regular reader of ProfHacker, there’s a pretty good chance that you already know all of the above information. What you might not know, however, is that the powers that be over there really like academic users. That is, if you sign up using as academic email address, you get extra storage space for free. Yes, you read that correctly, you get extra storage space on your account if you use an .edu address. Note: the terms of the paid services ($9.99 per month for 50GB or $19.99 per month for 100GB; alternately you can pay $99 or $199 per year respectively) are the same for academic as for non-academic acounts.

Like everyone else, academic users (users registered with .edu accounts) receive 2GB right off the bat, but they get extra bang for their referral bucks. The standard Dropbox referral upgrade is 200MB. Academic users get 500MB per referral up to 16GB for a total of 18GB of space. In addition, those lucky people referred by an academic user get a referral upgrade of 250MB instead of the standard 200. Best of all, you can change your address if you originally registered another email account, and Dropbox will increase your referrals retroactively. I can testify to the latter personally as I originally registered my gmail account and only recently switched to my college address. To change your address, simply visit the Account Settings page, and click on the “change” link next to your current email address. You will be asked to verify your new address by clicking on a link emailed to that account, and once you have done that, you are good to go.

Note that academic users at institutions outside of the United States (with addresses, for example) may also be eligible for the upgrade, but depending on where you are located, you might need to notify Dropbox via a Support Ticket and request it.

Lastly, we’d be remiss in omitting mention of recent security concerns at Dropbox, namely that the Dropbox Team maintains backdoor access to everything stored in its cloud. Friend of ProfHacker, Dave Parry (@academicdave) has summarized these concerns in a blogpost at AcademHack. Depending on your institution’s stance on internet security and in light of certain events in the last few months (e.g. politicians requesting email files from a WI faculty member), it is wise to be mindful not only of where you store your files, but who else might be able to access them, especially if you need to store sensitive information.

[Creative-Commons licensed image by Flickr user Hudson Gardner].

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