Box VS Dropbox: Storage Wars

Cloud storage. It is the kind of thing you don’t want to think about when setting up your business; you want to focus on the exciting things like prototyping products, hiring employees, and making sales. But, as with so many other parts of life, the fundamentals can often make the biggest difference. In the world of cloud storage and file sharing, that means figuring out which provider offers the best value for money, the best supplemental features, and the one that best suits the style of your team.

While there are plenty of options out there if you want to store your files and other documents online, two apps, in particular, seem to have the most brand recognition at the moment: Dropbox and Box. They share frustratingly similar names (seriously, whose idea was that?), and they aim to achieve similar goals: secure storage of files and folders. To learn which is best, we need to go in for a closer look. This is storage wars: Box vs. Dropbox.

Pricing

Right off the bat, Box jumps into the lead with a $5 pricing option. Described as a small-team subscription, this comes with just 100 GB of storage, so for some businesses, particularly those with lots of files, this will not be enough. The next steps up for Box are their Business and Business Plus plans, which cost $15 and $25 respectively. The difference between these plans is not in the amount of storage available, since both offer unlimited data, but rather in the supplemental features that accompany them. The Business Plus plan has more admin features and allows for unlimited external users and collaborators. If you work in graphic design or closely with clients in any field, this might be the subscription for you.

In the other corner, Dropbox begins their business subscriptions with the “standard” level at $12.50/user/month. For that price, you get two TB storage, as well as Dropbox Paper and a number of other snazzy features. As starting subscriptions go, this one isn’t too bad, though you’ll note it is significantly more expensive than the basic Box subscription. Having said that, though, I feel that the “standard” Dropbox account subscription is better compared with Box’s Business level. Both come with plenty of storage space for files, and both include basic admin tools.  With that as our premise, I think Dropbox might squeak by with the win. Two terabytes will be sufficient for most teams, and Dropbox Paper is pretty interesting (more on that later). If the “standard” level is not enough, you might opt for the “advanced” subscription. This comes with “as much space as your team needs,” which, I’ll note, is not the same as claiming unlimited storage. The advanced plan also comes with an array of security features all designed to keep your precious data safe.

Verdict: This is pretty much a tie. Box starts out cheaper, but with much less storage available. In terms of value for money, Box and Dropbox are basically even.

Features

Obviously, both Box and Dropbox offer cloud-based document storage. Within that broad umbrella, each offers slightly different approaches to the general goal of allowing remote collaboration on a variety of file and document formats. Both boast seamless integrations with Microsoft office and both claim they are designed to allow keep everyone connected across all devices. To pick which is best for you, though, we need to understand what makes them different. Let’s start with Box.

The team at Box would rather you refer to their product not as “cloud storage,” but as “content management.” Sure, you can store your pdfs and Microsoft Word documents here, but Box is also optimized to view 3D files as well. Box’s website is filled with case studies and testimonials from multiple industries sharing how Box allowed them to consolidate and streamline their process. In particular, though, I found that Box seems to have two major strengths in comparison with Dropbox. First, this app allows users to have greater collaboration on files with non-account holders. Basically, you can create guest accounts to allow clients to join in on the collaborative process. Dropbox also has this capability, but with Box, you are not limited in the number of external users. Second, Box seems better suited for integrations and customization. If your team includes people comfortable with coding, or if you use a particular their-party app, Box is well situated to fit in well with your needs.

Dropbox, on the other hand, brings an important feature to the battlefield: Dropbox Paper. Paper is a collaborative tool allowing you and your team members to clearly track and process your work. Basically, Paper is a timeline with a record of your projects and tasks. That’s right; Dropbox business plans come with light project management tools. For me, that is the biggest strength of Dropbox for business. You can assign various documents to different team members and monitor their progress in completing their task. Dropbox also has more admin tools that can restrict or grant access to users as situations demand.

Verdict: It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are looking for a flexible platform to work on and view all sorts of documents, pick Box. If you want a more focused approach to getting work done, a Dropbox folder may be the better choice for you.

Final Thoughts

Some wars are fought with decisive victories that bring the conflict to a conclusive end. Others drag on for years, decades, even centuries (hey, they didn’t call it the 100 years war for nothing, right?). The conflict between Box and Dropbox is one of those, where both sides trade blows without any clear end in sight.

The problem is these apps basically accomplish the same thing. Though they are priced differently and seem to have different strengths when compared directly, the reality of the matter is that both Dropbox and Box allow you to store your files in the cloud and access them from any of your devices. From that macro perspective, there is very little difference between the two. In their marketing materials, they both even use the same example of collaborating on a slide show! From a micro perspective, I would say that Dropbox offers tighter control over your documents, especially if you opt for the “advanced” subscription. Box, though, seems more flexible and allows for greater customer interaction.

Fortunately, both offer free trials, which will allow you to try them out and see which one you prefer for yourself. My recommendation: use this comparison to pick the one you think will be a better fit for your business. If you aren’t satisfied, opt out and try the other option. Happy storing! Stay safe out there.

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