By now, most people (businesses, consumers, or otherwise) have run across a cloud-based storage solution such as DropBox. Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, Box.net all come time mind. But in my humble opinion if you want a great cloud-based tool that can be easily installed, used, and shared, then DropBox is a tool you can use.
Many of the other solutions get muddled up with their connections with certain products or devices. Dropbox is much more universal and it is what it is. It’s a storage space that can be used to access, backup, and synchronize files.
Why DropBox is great for businesses
1) Store all your company files, documents, sales sheets, photos, content, web files, whatever – all in one place that can be accessed from any where from virtually any device; desktops, laptops, slates, smart phones, you name it. (There’s a catch to this for certain companies and certain content. More on that below…)
2) More than just accessing your information on the fly, DropBox is great for backing up all your important data. You can install it on any computer (Mac or PC) and do manual or automatic backups (by mapping to certain desktop folders for example).
3) DropBox folders can be shared, and shared on the folder level. Not on the account level. So, you can easily map out a rudimentary “user role” system of who gets to see what. You send them a share link (or an automated email invitation) and viola, they are connected to share. The initiator of that sharing process can at any time delete that shared connection with that user.
4) For companies who need to do so, DropBox is a GREAT way to send big data files. Ones that are too big to email. And DropBox is a lot easier for most people to use than FTP services. So for example, you are an architect that needs to get a CAD drawing to a client. Or a print designer who has to deliver printer quality high resolution work to the printer or client. You simply drop the file in a folder, share it, and let it go. You can keep the folder active or delete it after a certain amount of time.
The Things to Keep in Mind…
Dropbox has a free version (2 Gigs of storage) that most people will fine more than adequate. You can “upgrade” your storage limits (up to 18 gigs…still all for FREE) by referrals and liking them on Facebook, or following them on Twitter. In fact, I should note, that my personal and business use of DropBox is still free, and I’m up to nearly my limit of 18 Gigs because of referrals. Most of my employees, clients, vendors, and contractors use DropBox happily, so it grows.
Now, I would be remiss in not saying that DropBox is the cheapest solution out there. Google Drive is pretty damn competitive. It’s a DropBox clone in fact, and its free version comes with 7 Gigs of data storage. The reason I do not like Google Drive is because of Google’s policy of scanning/reading all the content inside their products to service you ads (and people like you ads). So technically, their is a hidden cost with Google Drive (and yes damn it, I have to admit I use Gmail which is absolutely free because of the fact they serve you ads based on reading your emails…I’m a complicated person).
I should also make note of the degree of security that DropBox provides. If you can live with the following rule when using DropBox, then you’ll be fine. If you don’t want your documents shared beyond the person you are sending it to, don’t use DropBox. To be fair, you really couldn’t use any tool. And here is why.
DropBox and all other cloud-based storage tools only STORES files. They do not READ files. Meaning, should a user open or engage a file, it must open in the appropriate software. Once that happens, you protecting your proprietary content just went out the window. The best you could do for most file types is save them as “read only”, but that still doesn’t prevent the user from saving the document somewhere else, sharing it with your competitors, or publishing it to the public. If you don’t SHARE your Dropbox folder(s) with anyone, then you’ll be good to go. But that kind of defeats the purpose (arguably).