DropBox as a Web Server in 3 Easy Steps

Justin | tips | Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Important update: As of October 3, 2016, Dropbox is discontinuing the ability to render HTML content in-browser via shared links or Public Folder.

So you’ve got some web content, now what do you do with it? Typically, this is where you’d upload your content to a web server.

Maybe you’re new to creating web content and the idea of signing up with a web host is daunting. Perhaps you’re dipping your toe in the water, and you don’t yet need your own domain name. You just need a place to post your files so that others can view them.

Fortunately, there’s a cheap (in most cases free) and easy solution. You can use Dropbox to host web sites.

Step 1: Copy your site into the Public folder within your Dropbox Directory

You may want to create a subfolder, so that you can house multiple sites in your Public folder.

dropbox_public

Important note: If your Dropbox account was created before Oct. 4, 2012, you will automatically have a Public folder. If your account is newer, you may have to request a public folder. (This may now require a paid account). See the Helpful Links section below for other options.

Step 2: Right-click and choose Copy Public Link

dropbox_copylink

You can create a shareable link from any Dropbox file or folder, but if your file has dependencies (images, CSS files, JavaScript files, etc) the Public folder has an easier time linking to those files.

Step 3: Paste the link in your browser to test, or paste into an email to send

dropbox_paste

You now have a link to your site. Here’s a sample site I created using in5.

Optional: You can use a link shortener to create a more memorable URL.

Strengths of Using Dropbox as a Web Server

  • Cheap/Free
  • Fast
  • Easy
  • Built-in version control
  • Doesn’t require an File Transfer Protocol (FTP) application. Files can be managed from the desktop.

Weaknesses of Using Dropbox as a Web Server

  • No server-side scripts
  • URL is generic

Helpful links

Apparently, you can also services like DropPages or Pancake.io, you can create a small and simple website with minimal effort (even if you don’t have a Public folder in your acccount).

New to Dropbox? It’s a very useful service. Check out Keith Gilbert’s Up and Running with Dropbox course on Lynda.com to learn more about what you can do with Dropbox.

Need a Dropbox account? You can create one for free.

See also 4 Ways to Host Your Website on Dropbox.

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4 thoughts on “DropBox as a Web Server in 3 Easy Steps”

  1. Steve Bogle says:

    I am looking to host large video files (100mb – 200mb) so that the magazine I publish through Apple Newsstand is not too large. Will Dropbox be able to support hundreds of downloads without any sort of disruption for video/audio files of that size?

  2. Justin says:

    Hi Steve,

    That’s a big ask of the server (depending on the number of visitors). You may want to contact Dropbox directly and see what they say. They’re certainly built to handle volume, but something like Amazon Web Services might be even better for video of that size. Or, if it fits with the project, host it on YouTube and embed the YouTube player.

    Which ever route you go, definitely do some testing before making a large commitment of time and energy.

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