When I said, in Mind Mapping a Research Toolbox, that you can keep files in your Public Dropbox folder to yourself a question came up about how safe this is. These links are from the Dropbox domain so could they be indexed by the search engines. Or do they have to be linked from another website in order to be indexed and seen?
The chance of anyone coming across them in a search engine is remote. The Public folder link is in the format of
and unless someone knows the file-name they can’t find the specific file. If they use only the first part without the file-name, they will not be taken to your Public folder. They’ll get a 404 page instead. I tried it and that’s how it works.
You’re not alone when you put something in your Public Dropbox folder because anyone who has the link can share it with anyone else. But, that’s the same with all Dropbox links. In the case of genealogy research links, you probably do want to share them or don’t mind sharing them so this is not an issue.
But, in the case you have something else you don’t want to share with the entire world –
Dropbox has a new option in beta called Shareable Links. Read How do I share a link to a file in my Dropbox folder? for a description of file-sharing improvements. (2012 update: Shareable Links are no longer a menu option. You can link to ANY file in your Dropbox.)
This will open a window on the Dropbox site where you can copy a shortened URL. Something like this:
Unless the links are pasted on a website, or freely given out some other way I don’t think they can be accessed. Which brings me to the point that you can also use ‘Shareable Link’ for sharing files you do want seen. The same page that gives you the shortened link also gives you quick links to Twitter and Facebook because, as we know, Twitter and Facebook rule the world.
So, this may be my cure for mind maps in progress that I don’t want seen by the public. I can still export them as Flash, link them together using these Shareable links and make a series of private bookmarks.
The files are still hosted on Dropbox so it would depend whether they’re included in their links to be indexed. Google already knows that http://db. means Dropbox so are they sucking up every link like a Hoover? I doubt it but I’m awaiting an answer.