Cloud services or online storage has become an indispensable part of our lives and everybody who cares about their data is out shopping for their preferred brands.
Yet, as more companies join the market and improved services are offered each quarter, it can be a grueling task to figure out which service suits all your requirements (or your budget) and gives you peace of mind (or security).
So, we focus our spotlight on two prominent cloud storage options, Box and Dropbox, and give you a head-to-head comparison to help you make an informed decision.
Operating Systems and Mobile Platforms
Box offers services for both mobile and desktop platforms. Storage and editing apps are provided for Mac and Windows, while mobile apps are provided for iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets, Windows phones and tablets, and Blackberry phones.
Dropbox also offers services for both mobile and desktop platforms.
The Dropbox desktop app runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. And, the mobile apps support iPhones and iPads, Android devices, including Kindle Fire, and Windows phones and tablets.
Dropbox no longer supports Blackberry, but has allowed Blackberry Limited to build an app using the Dropbox APIs.
Although Box still continues to support Blackberry, whose users are primarily in the business or enterprise domain, if we had to pick a one stop solution for personal use, Dropbox is the winner. It provides support for Linux and Kindle Fire.
Box handles security through a five-point approach. This covers privacy, transparency, access controls, encryption, and data centers. This service proclaims that “your (customer) privacy is paramount” and they have successfully earned certifications for EU and Swiss Safe Harbor frameworks for the collection and use of personal data from European member countries.
They are also equipped to help your company be HIPAA compliant.
It offers layered protection, a two-factor authentication and a single sign-on integration. It also has the ability to password protect individual documents and presentations and even set expiry dates for sensitive documents.
Its services also include integration with data loss prevention systems and email verification when logging in from a new IP address.
Dropbox uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/ Transport Layer Security (TSL) which provides security for file transfers, which are protected by 128-bit or higher AES encryption.
The file data is stored in file blocks and are encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption. It also uses a two-factor authentication.
However, Dropbox is yet to provide the facility to provide private encryption keys to their customers and only promises that all files on their server are encrypted.
If you want to preserve high-risk data and are sensitive about your documents and privacy, then Box is the way to go as it gives you a personal encryption key.
File Sharing, Syncing and Versioning
Sharing is effective on Box as you can share a folder within a folder, you can control what users share with others, and you can transfer ownership of a folder, even with a person who is not a Box user.
Another useful feature is that you can unshare everything you have shared with a specific person with very little effort. Sharing is also very secure through Box as it allows you to use a user managed encryption key and, hence, it is within your control.
This cloud storage service further provides free syncing, but it does not provide LAN syncing. It has app syncing features which allow you to collaborate with your team and share documents or presentations through the integration of apps like Salesforce, Google Docs, and Outlook.
Moreover, Box allows you to view your past files and recover them and even allows you to check the audit trail. The number of past revisions that are saved varies from plan to plan.
Unlike Box, Dropbox does not allow you to share a folder within a shared folder. However, its sharing abilities are similar to the other Box sharing features.
For Dropbox, files are shared through links, but no encryption key is attached to it. So, even though the files can be shared effortlessly, the security is poor if someone can access your shared file links.
All files to be placed on the cloud will automatically be synced, if you place them in the syncing folder while offline. Dropbox also provides free syncing and LAN syncing, which takes it one step forward from Box.
Moreover, Dropbox allows all the facilities to view old versions, delete a file or folder permanently, check the audit trail and even save past versions of data.
Both services are quite similar in their approach. However, Dropbox would be a winner in this category if you had to choose based on ease of use, even though it lacks security.
To open up a personal account for Box, you can get a starting balance of 10GB for free with a maximum size limit of 250 MB per file shared.
However, if you are an individual who works as a freelancer and requires the cloud to store all your work-related data, then you can opt for the “Personal Pro” plan for $11.50 a month. This gives you 100GB of storage space and a 5GB maximum file size limit.
The basic or free plan for Dropbox is quite disappointing compared to Box, as it only offers 2GB of storage space. However, it provides 30-days file recovery and version history facility. Yet, this can only be used by individuals who use the service in moderation.
The paid plan for individuals is quite a bargain and provides 1TB of storage space for $9.99 a month. This is enough space for individuals who work on their own and need a space to save their work. The paid plan also has password protected links and remote device wipe facilities.
If you need to store your data on the cloud and are willing to pay for it, then Dropbox is the one to choose. However, if you are simply using the cloud for your leisure and as place to share photos with your distant family members, then you may be able to manage this with the Box free plan.
Box offers email and phone help options. The link to the email support is clear and easy and the responses are prompt. However, the phone support option is only for sales and general assistance.
The website also has a formal help guide, a tutorial section and even a community help forum where you can seek help from Box staff and other members.
The email form for query submissions is lengthy, but the responses are quick and effective. Phone support is also offered, but only for sales support.
Dropbox has a very robust searchable help center, which takes the user through each step until the final answer is found to their problems.
Dropbox wins this one as you can find answers to various queries on their assistance section.
Both Box and Dropbox have been around for a while and have shaped up their services around their clients’ requirements.
But, if we take a closer look, we will see that Box is ahead in terms of the topnotch security offered. It is thus a more effective choice for enterprise or business clients, whose businesses rely on data security.
While Dropbox is one step behind Box in terms of security, since it is unable to provide personal encryption keys to their customers, they score big in terms of their usability design and ease of use for customers who do not have the time to go through a rigorous regime to save or use their data.
However, Dropbox wins in the final round as it is more customer friendly and has a wide range of services and facilities to offer a seamless and uncomplicated experience for their users.