Box vs Dropbox: Which is Best for Your Business?
November 8, 2019

Box vs Dropbox: Which is Best for Your Business?

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Public cloud storage gives your business the freedom to share, edit, and collaborate on work assets in real time, from any location. And if you lose a corporate device or your office is submerged by the flood of the century, all your data is safe and secure.

It’s no wonder businesses across the globe are making cloud storage part of their IT environment.

While big players like Amazon, Google, Oracle, and Microsoft have tapped into the cloud storage market for enterprise data storage, many companies need reliable and non-developer driven cloud storage solutions for document and asset management.

If you’re considering a solution for your business, you’ve likely wondered about the difference between Box vs. Dropbox. On the surface, they seem to offer a similar solution for business customers: secure cloud storage with collaborative and administrative tools.

While that’s true, there are some clear distinctions in packaging, functionality, and user experience that set them apart.

Box vs. Dropbox is one of the most common business cloud storage comparisons, but these vendors each have many competitors. To save time wading through the cloud backup and storage landscape, use our Product Selection Tool to get a list of 5 recommendations based on your needs. Click on the image below to get started.

Box vs Dropbox: An overview

Before we get into specific features, let’s take a look at Box vs Dropbox from a 10,000-foot view.

Box, Inc. has lost nearly half it of its value after a 2018 high of nearly $4 billion. It’s currently valued at $2.4 billion. Their user base includes 8 million users at 95,000 companies and 70 percent of the Fortune 500.

Dropbox went public in Q2 2018, and is worth $8.5 billion as of November 2019. Its current user base includes over 600 million registered users.

Both vendors offer multiple plans for business and personal accounts. But it’s important to note how Box and Dropbox uniquely position themselves in the market. It wouldn’t make much sense if they offered the same product, targeted toward the same customer, for different prices—which is why they don’t.

While Box does offer two personal storage plans, their product is first and foremost an enterprise solution. Consequently, its features and user experience are tailored to the needs of CIOs and IT departments:

“We’re a 100 percent enterprise-focused company. All the technology we’re building goes toward asking how do we make it easier, or more scalable, or simpler, and just a better way for businesses to share and manage and access this data.”  Aaron Levie, Box CEO 

Dropbox, on the other hand, began as a consumer-facing product and gradually made its way into the workplace as a form of consumerized IT. In other words: people liked Dropbox; people used Dropbox at work; workplaces saw the benefits of Dropbox; workplaces adopted Dropbox as a business solution.

“We’re solving really important problems for a big chunk of the world, not just Silicon Valley. Our users are trapeze artists, high school football coaches . . . physicists who collaborate across the world.” Drew HoustonDropbox CEO

These different approaches to file management pose unique challenges to each vendor.

For Box, that might mean improving the user experience on an individual level, making their platform easier to use and easier to administrate. For Dropbox, it might mean providing deeper administrative control.

Let’s take a closer look.

Platforms and pricing

The first thing you’ll need to consider is the core product: how much does it cost, and what are you getting for the money?

Box offers four pricing tiers for businesses. Their Starter package, aimed at 3-10 person teams, provides 100 GB of storage. The Business tier—for medium-sized teams with more advanced needs—provides unlimited storage, the Business Plus tier gives teams advanced administration and controls, and the Enterprise tier adds some advanced features like HIPAA compliance, unlimited software integrations, and document watermarking.

Dropbox offers three plans for businesses with 5 users and up: Dropbox for Business at the Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. The Standard plan includes most business capabilities and 3TB of storage. Users who want more granular administration, IT, and domain controls should upgrade to a higher plan.

Security and administrative control

Box provides a full suite of advanced security features, from file encryption to custom data retention rules and enterprise mobility management (EMM). Administrators can decide which users are granted access to files and folders and create user groups for easier assignment. There are seven levels of access control, which address access, preview, editing, and sharing.

Files themselves are protected by TLS and multi-layered encryption, file versioning, and expiration controls, as well as custom content security policies. Users can also apply passwords to confidential files as needed.

Features:

  • SSL and At Rest Encryption
  • File locking
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Single sign-on via SAML 2.0 and ADFS 2
  • AD/LDAP account management
  • Secure sharing
  • Auto-expiration
  • Data residency in Box Zones
  • Granular permissions
  • Data retention rules
  • Mobile security controls
  • Account and user management
  • Access stats and reporting
  • Dropbox includes standard security for a public cloud server—more than enough for the average business to protect their sensitive data. With Dropbox for Business, you’ll get 256-bit AES encryption (same as Box), group management and sharing restrictions, and the ability to remotely wipe data in the case of a compromised account or hostile termination.

Administrators can use the admin dashboard to track user and team access stats, including logins, devices, and sharing, as well as add and remove team members. Dropbox for Business retains deleted documents for 120 days, and extended version history can be purchased as an add-on.

Features:

  • 256-bit AES and SSL encryption
  • Sharing controls
  • User and team activity tracking (logins, devices, sharing)
  • Active directory and single sign-on integrations
  • Remote data wiping
  • User management
  • Team usage stats
  • File recovery

Collaboration

Collaboration is one of the biggest selling points of cloud storage for a business, so it’s important to consider how a given solution will help your team work together. Both vendors offer collaboration tools that extend beyond basic file sharing.

Box and Dropbox perform well in this category. First, they both offer flexible sharing options including link sharing, invite-only sharing, and external sharing. Second, they both enable teams to collaborate in real time using team or group folders. Users can comment on files, work directly from Outlook, and access their storage account through native mobile apps for most devices. Not only that, but both vendors have built-in file recovery and versioning to keep users from losing their work.

Both platforms integrate with Office 365, DocuSign, and other content apps.

Project and task management 

Obviously, neither of these products are designed to be a fully-fledged project management solution.

But they can support existing project strategies by helping your teams manage work in an orderly, repeatable fashion—especially files and documents directly related to the project, such as RFPs, budgets, Gantt charts, media assets, and so forth.

Dropbox recently released a collaboration and project management tool, Paper, to help teams come together around projects. Paper includes features like calendars, check lists, approval lists, messaging, notifications, and more. It’s a free product that comes with any Dropbox account.

dropbox paper.

With Box, you can create workflow automation rules to manage files based on preset conditions. You can also use Box Relay, an automated process tool that helps companies manage highly-manual and repeatable approvals processes for onboarding, training, and more.

Box relay approval process.

Neither Dropbox or Box provides a sophisticated task management solution that could replace a feature-rich project management or help desk tool like Jira. But the task management tools cover the types of repeatable and document-heavy projects that marketing, sales, and HR teams might manage.

Integration with third-party business apps

Almost every business has a system or set of systems that support their core business operations. In sales, this might be a CRM database. In the medical field, it might be an EHR system. Whatever the case, it’s crucial that your file management tools integrate seamlessly with your enterprise software. That means you need to be able to upload, download, and sync files from directly within the application.

How do Box and Dropbox line up with this standard?

For starters, they both integrate with Office 365 and Outlook. This is important since 1 in 5 corporate employees use Office 365.

Beyond that, each platform uses APIs to integrate with a variety of third-party applications. Dropbox calls pre-built connections Extensions, while Box lists their over 1,400 native connections as apps.

Dropbox’s universality, in large part, can be attributed to its role as a consumer and business app. Box, on the other hand, mainly focuses on business-critical apps such as CRMs and marketing platforms.

The verdict?

Box and Dropbox both offer solid solutions for public cloud storage—including versatile file sharing, mobile access, and reliable security. The “better” product will depend on your unique priorities and budget. If you’re overwhelmed by the comparison process, use our Product Selection Tool. Answer a few questions regarding your needs, and we’ll send you a short list of vendors.