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Want 4.5GB of free Dropbox space? Be a guinea pig

For those willing to beta-test a feature to automatically upload photos and videos, the cloud storage company will offer bonus storage space.

Dropbox logo

Dropbox, the popular cloud storage utility for synchronizing files among many devices, ordinarily limits free accounts to 2GB, but those who test a new feature to automatically upload photos can get as much as 4.5GB.

To take advantage of the offer, you have to run a beta version of the company's software, and you have to try a feature that automatically uploads photos and videos to the service, according to a forum post yesterday.

"During this beta period, we are also offering additional free space to test automatic uploading of photos and videos. For every 500MB of photos and videos automatically uploaded, you'll receive another 500MB space bonus, up to 4.5GB total," the post said. "You can get up to 5GB of free space with this feature, if you count the initial 500MB space for the first photo import."

For those who don't want to upload multiple gigabytes, Dropbox said it will give "500MB of free space on first photo import."

The service imports photos from cameras, mobile phones, and SD cards plugged into a computer, the post said.

Dropbox recommends backing up your data before running the beta.

Among the caveats:

• To import from iPhone, make sure to unlock your phone and enter your passcode before importing, otherwise it will claim to find no photos.

• If importing from your iPhone on Mac gives an import error, try hard resetting it--hold down the power and the home button for 5 seconds. This will reboot the phone; it shouldn't change your settings or delete data.

• On Windows, this feature relies on Autoplay. Please enable Autoplay to use this feature if you have disabled it.

• On XP and Vista, it relies on the Windows Image Acquisition Service. If this service is not started, please start the service and reinstall Dropbox to use this feature. On WIndows Server, you may have to install the Desktop Experience feature.

• On Windows 7, newer devices that rely on Device Stage (in the Control Panel) will not show Dropbox as an import option until you select "Change Program" for the default.

• The Galaxy Nexus takes a lot of time to connect on OS X because it likes to pretend that every image on the device is a photograph. We now estimate how long it's going to take and show you that in the progress bar but it's usually in the order of minutes. We're working to see if this can be improved.