Stress-Free File Sharing and the History of Data Storage

File sharing and data storage are relatively stress-free activities these days. While I am not old enough to remember the first data storage device (more on this later), I do remember how frustrating and expensive it was to store and transfer files in the early 2000s.

Back in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Australia. It was an incredible experience, but I came back to the U.S. a few pennies (and an appendix) lighter. The appendix bill was cheap (thanks, public hospital!), but the beer was not. I bought many rounds that year.

I also bought my first USB drive. Laptops and internet were available at the University of Queensland back then, but I needed a way to transfer files from my computer to other classmates computers. At the time, these files (ppts, pictures, docs, etc) were too large to transfer via school email, so I bought a 256MB USB drive…for $65! That bill was hard to swallow at the time. And most of the time the files were larger than the USB drive’s capacity.

File sharing is much faster, easier, and cheaper today. Technology sure has come a long way.

Brief History of Computer Data Storage and File Sharing

Punch card machines were developed in the early 1880s to tabulate census data, which marked the first form of mechanical storage method.  

Vertical Filing System the Paper File Folder. In 1898, Edwin G. Siebels is credited for inventing the first file storage system. File sharing throughout the early, to mid 20th century, involved handing a physical folder to another person.

In the early 1930s, the Magnetic Drum was developed, which held a capacity of less than 50KB of data. It was later used as memory for computers in the 1950s.

Magnetic Tape Drives and the first Hard Disk Drive were developed in the 1950s. They had data storage capacity of 231KB and 3.75MB initially (respectively). The Hard Disk drive is commonly referred to as the C-Drive.

file sharing and the history of data storage

Floppy Disks hit the scene in the late 1960s and became popular in the ’70s and ’80. First, it was the 8-inch, then 5.25-inch, and ultimately the 3.5-inch floppy. The most popular 3.5-inch floppy help around 1.44 MB of data.

file sharing and the history of data storage

Compact Disc (CD) came about in the 1980s. They typically held 700MB. Ya’ll remember these, don’t ya!?

file sharing and the history of data storage

1985- File Transfer Protocol (FTP) was standardized. This allowed for secure data transfers between computers.

1990s – World Wide Web is born! This opened up computing and communications throughout the world. This was also a time period of piracy and the undesirable effects of file sharing. It started out with video games, then music and other forms of internet piracy…Does anyone remember the anti-piracy video “Don’t Copy That Floppy”?

Don't Copy That Floppy (Official Video – Digitally Remastered)


Additionally, the 1990s saw the onset of the Zip Drive, DVD, SD Card, and the USB Flash Drive, which held considerably more information than the floppy. The initial capacity of a USB drive was 8MB. Now-a-days, you can get a 256 GB USB flash drive for under $100! Transferring data, however, still requires physically loading data from one computer to the USB drive, and ultimately to another computer.

By the late 2000s, consumer cloud storage technologies became available. Cloud storage and computing technologies have advanced considerably over the past few years.

Now, file sharing has never easier or more secure. Especially with Dropbox.

Easily share files with anyone

In a previous post, we discussed the use of Emojis in the workplace. Furthermore, we wrote about the value of Dropbox Paper meeting minute templates. In addition to content creation, workflow management, and collaboration, Dropbox is an excellent resource for file sharing.

It is much faster than the days of USB drives! You can send a file just with a link. Even if the receiving party does not have a Dropbox account, they can still access the photos, videos, CAD files, or similar from your Dropbox account. You can share files as large as your storage quota, which starts at 2GBs.

Find out when someone makes a change to a shared file

Now you can get real-time updates on shared files. With Dropbox, you can see who added, edited, renamed, moved, or deleted files. All changes are tracked, and you automatically updated and synced.

Keep your shared folders organized

The Millennial Money community is growing, and so is our team. That’s why we use Dropbox to help organize our files in one central location. We use the shared folder feature often. Each team member has access to the root folder, subfolders, and files.

For example, we have a root folder for our Side Hustle Success Series, and subfolders for each interview. All team members can make edits (if provided permission), and the folder will automatically sync for all members of the team. Quick and easy collaboration!

Manage Folder Permissions

Sensitive information is sensitive. That’s why we love the security Dropbox folder sharing. You can assign multiple folder permissions. For example, you can choose if you want to give a recipient editing or view-only access.

Furthermore, when you send files via email as an attachment, you are putting your security at risk. With Dropbox, you can share files via links within the email. You can even make these links password protected.

Just like data storage and file sharing, Dropbox technologies have evolved. We are stoked with its capabilities.

This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned

Grant Sabatier

Creator of Millennial Money and Author of Financial Freedom (Penguin Random House). Dubbed "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to over $1 million in 5 years, reaching financial independence at age 30. Grant has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR, Money Magazine and many others. He uses Personal Capital to manage his money in 10 minutes a month.

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