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Those “Wouldn’t it be nice if…?” questions spur the creation of some pretty addictive gadgets. You know the ones I mean—those handy little apps that you’ve lived without for years, but once you’ve tried them out you refuse to go back.

Dropbox is one of those quaint little tools. Using it for the first time was kind of like checking my email on my first smart phone—a genuine “Whaaat?” experience. From that moment on I was spoiled. Waiting to check my email on a computer was an impossible inconvenience, and now I can no longer email myself a file without cringing a little inside. Because now I know there’s a better way.

Dropbox emerged from the mind of a brilliant do-it-yourselfer named Drew Houston, who was, at the time, a student at MIT. His wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if question revolved around his tendency to forget his USB drive. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could access his files anywhere with an Internet connection? A cloud-based USB, no plug-in necessary. Awesome.

For us simple students, writers, etc., Dropbox was a revelation. Our new case study highlights the service’s history and features, as well as gives some insight into its current system infrastructure for those interested in figuring out how the software is actually supported.