Welcome to the Cloudwards.net enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) roundup. This guide is intended to help SMB owners find the best cloud storage service for their business. We spent several weeks testing some of the biggest names the field in addition to giving our due diligence to some of the lesser known options as well.
We broke down and ranked each service based on key collaboration features, including sync, file sharing, user management and work productivity integrations. Then, with all that information in place, we tallied the strengths and weaknesses, debated back and forth, talked with a few business owners and made our selection for best EFSS service overall.
Given its renown, you’d be justified in supposing that pick would be Dropbox Business. Box Business, one of the biggest cloud storage names among business users, would be another good guess. However, our surprise winner is Egnyte Connect, an almost flawlessly engineered cloud platform that combines great sync and share features with a deep third-party application library, strong cloud security and affordable pricing.
Because not every business owner’s needs are the same, though, we’ll also reveal the results of our top EFSS picks for various other categories to help you make the right decision for your team.
Best Enterprise File Sync and Share Providers
|Egnyte||Dropbox Business||Box||Citrix ShareFile||OneDrive for Business||IBM Connections||Huddle||Syncplicity||EFolder Anchor||Amium|
|Device synchronizationConnect multiple devices to the cloud to access the same content in near-real time.|
|Selective syncTurn off file sync for some content to save hard drive space.|
|Block-level syncSpeeds up file sync by only replacing changed parts of files rather than entire file.||Office files only|
|Shared FoldersCreated shared folders for collaborators to work from.|
|File linkingGenerate a URL link pointing to a file to share with coworkers or others.|
|File versioningRevert to previous file state to undo unwanted changes.||10|
|Max file sizeSingle file size cap for unloading to cloud storage.||10 GB||20 GB||4 GB||100 GB||10 GB||2 GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB|
|Microsoft Office IntegrationCo-edit Office files in realtime from directly within cloud storage platform.||Requires Office 365|
|Google Docs IntegrationCo-edit Google Docs files in near real-time directly within cloud storage platform.|
|Third-party app integration libraryIntegrate supported free and paid third-party apps into your cloud storage.|
|Monitor user activityAudit activity like file edits, folder creation and content shares.|
|Set user rolesGiven users roles that define what they can and can't do on your storage account.||Limited||Limited|
|Create user groupsSetup collaborative teams with access to specific folders.|
|At-rest encryptionFile content is encrypted while stored in the data center.||AES-256||AES-256||AES-256||AES-256||AES-128||AES-256||AES-256||AES-256|
|In-transit encryptionFiles are shielded in transit between device and datacenter using TLS/SSL to prevent eavesdropping attacks.|
|End-to-end encryption integrationIntegrate with apps like Boxcryptor to provide end-to-end encryption of your files.|
|Two-factor authenticationRequire a special code (sent via text) to login from an unfamiliar device.|
|Custom password requirementsDesign password requirements for you collaborators to lessen the impact of weak passwords.|
|Single-sign on (SSO) integrationLets users login with a set of credentials used by other, independent software systems to reduce the number of passwords required.||On Advanced plan||Requires Business Plus||Requires Plus plan|
|Remote device wipeDelete synced content on lost or stolen devices.||Requires add-on|
|Live ChatTalk with tech support online.|
|Telephone supportTalk with tech support online.||On Advanced plan|
|User forumShare ideas and solutions with other business users.|
|24/7 supportGet technical support whenever you need it.||Enterprise only||Paid feature|
|Visit EgnyteEgnyte Review||Visit Dropbox BusinessDropbox Business Review||Visit BoxBox Review||Visit Citrix ShareFileCitrix ShareFile Review||Visit OneDrive for BusinessOneDrive for Business Review||Visit IBM ConnectionsIBM Connections Review||Visit HuddleHuddle Review||Visit SyncplicitySyncplicity Review||Visit EFolder AnchorEFolder Anchor Review||Visit Amium|
EFSS stands for “enterprise file sync and share.” Think of it as cloud storage for business. The goal of an EFSS platform is to give employees the freedom to work from anywhere while at the same time enhance working online with a group of people scattered over the globe.
The merits of working remotely have been discussed for years. Some employers embrace it because it opens up the talent pool by removing regional restrictions on hiring and saves money on office space. Others favor remote work because it can lead to better employee satisfaction, which results in less turnover.
For some, it’s about getting out from under the flickering fluorescent lights and being able to plug in from places that more creatively nurturing, whether that’s a downtown coffee shop or a seaside cottage.
What Makes an EFSS Solution
With a few exceptions, the basic elements of most EFSS tools are similar from one service to the other. The central mechanism is the sync folder, which is basically a special folder that sits in your device filesystem, but is also connected to the cloud. Any content you put in this folder gets sent to a remote data center, then to any other synced devices.
The result, ideally, is that an employee can make a change to a file on their device and all others will see that file change almost instantly on their own devices. Most EFSS tools also let you create work groups and shared folders, and invite others look at specific files by generating links that point to those files.
With some much in common, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it doesn’t really matter if you go with OneDrive for Business of Box, or Dropbox Business over Egnyte Connect, or so on. As such, for many SMB owners the decision always comes down to the bottom line, which may not always be the wisest course, as you’ll see in a bit..
However, the truth of the matter is that while basic features may be generally the same between platforms, execution varies wildly. It’s easier to show than tell, so before getting to our top overall picks in the EFSS space, we decided it was worth giving our SMB readers a little more information to work with.
If you can’t wait to find out who are overall winners are, feel free to skip to the end of the article. We’ve also published detailed reviews on several EFSS platforms that we looked at during our review process.
- Egnyte Connect review
- Box Business review
- Dropbox Business review
- OneDrive for Business review
- Citrix ShareFile review
- IBM Connections review
- Syncplicity review
- Huddle review
- eFolder Anchor review
If you enjoy suspense and intrigue, plus want to know a little more about what to look for in your cloud storage solution, we encourage you to read through. Regardless of what path you decide to take, thanks for joining us, let’s see what lies in store.
Best EFSS for File Syncing
File syncing, or just “sync” for short, lets users work on the same content from different devices, ideally in near real-time. The ideas is that you can make an edit to a file on your computer and your collaborators can see that change reflected almost instantly on their own devices.
Most cloud storage platforms today follow the sync model developed by Dropbox founder Drew Houston, which is to provide a desktop sync folder that stores content both on your device hard drive and in the cloud. However, while many mimic the model, few pull it off as well as Dropbox.
The difference is that Dropbox incorporates a key sync feature called block-level file transfers. Common among most of our best online backup services but not in the cloud storage industry, this type of file transfer means that only the parts of files that actually changed get synced rather than the entire file (if you’re confused, found out the difference between backup vs storage).
This approach saves considerable time. You may see block-level sync sometimes referred to as “differential sync” or “delta copying.” The terms all mean the same thing.
Another great sync feature that many more cloud storage services have gotten on board with is selective sync. Selective sync lets you turn off sync for content so that its only stored in the cloud and not on your device. We like this feature for business users because of the trend towards ultraslim laptops with small solid-state drives (SSDs).
First Place: Dropbox Business
Dropbox invented sync and continues to lead the way. While initial file uploads and downloads with Dropbox might not torch the competition, the same can’t be said about changes made to existing files thanks its block-level approach.
We also love Dropbox’s approach to selective sync, which the company terms “smart sync.” With most EFSS platforms, when you turn sync off for a folder, you can no longer see it inside your sync folder. With Dropbox, you can see them and still access them. The only downside is that because that content isn’t stored on your hard drive, it isn’t available offline.
Max files sizes for Dropbox sync are 20GB, which should be more than enough for most SMB owners.
Finally, Dropbox lets you throttle download and upload rates so that sync doesn’t negatively impact system resources you’d like to devote to other work tasks. In our testing, that never happened, but it’s still a good option to have.
Second Place: Egnyte Connect
Egnyte Connect is the only other EFSS platform we found during our analysis that incorporates block-level sync for all file types. In our testing, it performed just as well as Dropbox Business, reducing file uploads for massive files from a few minutes on initial uploads to a few seconds when changes were made.
Egnyte also supports selective sync but when you turn it off for a given folder, you no longer see that folder in your sync your folder. You either have to go to the Egnyte browser interface to see it, or you can install Egnyte Drive, which acts like a network drive in your file system. Egnyte falls short of Dropbox when it comes max file size, with a cap of 10GB.
You can throttle upload and download sync speeds with Egnyte, or you can set a sync schedule if you’d rather not keep sync running perpetually. However, for business collaborations, we wouldn’t recommend doing so, since you’re liable to get crossed wires somewhere.
Third Place: OneDrive for Business
At one point, Microsoft had listed block-level sync for all file types in its OneDrive for Business development roadmap as arriving on the scene in Q2 2017. However, Q2 has come and gone, the feature was never launched and it’s no longer listed as being in the works.
While that makes us sad, OneDrive does at least support block-level sync for Microsoft Office files. That’s more than most cloud storage services can say.
Sync with OneDrive for Business is supported for files up to 10GB, the same as Egnyte. Selective sync is an option, too, which you can manage by right-clicking on the OneDrive icon on your taskbar and selecting, “settings.”
Like our top two sync options, OneDrive also lets you manually adjust how much bandwidth gets used for file uploads and downloads in case it’s causing problems with other tasks.
Best EFSS for File Sharing
Like sync, file sharing is a feature designed to easily share content with other users without having to deal with emailing larger file attachments or removable media. Also like sync, there’s very little variation in the basic approach to this feature. Most EFSS tools let you share content both at the folder by adding user access and at the file level either by email invitation or by generating a link.
That said, file sharing can be risky business when you’re working with sensitive intellectual property, and good EFSS tools incorporate file-sharing settings to keep your business interests safe. Key settings include link passwords, expiry dates, access notifications and reporting capabilities to keep track of what content has been shared.
While some of these features might seem like no-brainers, most cloud storage solutions miss on one or several of them. OneDrive for Business, for example, doesn’t let you set a link password and gives you no way to audit all of the links you’ve created in one view.
|Shared Folders||File Links||Link Passwords||Link Expiry Dates||Link Auditing|
|OneDrive for Business|
Here are our top three picks for EFSS tools that do file sharing right.
First Place: Egnyte Connect
Egnyte Connect checks off all the boxes when it comes to file sharing and then some. You can share any folder by adding users at the individual or group level or simply by creating a link pointing to that folder. You can also create links for individual files, which can be emailed or distributed manually.
Business users retain control over their links with options like link passwords, expiry dates and notifications for whenever that link is used. You can also restrict link access based on whether or not the individual one of your licensed account holders and restrict whether or not those with your link can download the file or just preview it.
The Egnyte approach to content sharing is more thoughtful and well-designed than any other that we’ve used, making an easy top pick in this category.
Second Place: Dropbox Business
Dropbox Business is similar to Egnyte Connect in that it lets you create shared folders and includes great settings options for file links. These options include password protection and expiry dates, plus the ability to restrict link access based on whether or not the individual is a member of your team.
Really the only shortcoming is that Dropbox Business doesn’t give you a notification option for link sharing or let you prevent file downloads.
The platform, does, however, provide some nice reporting capabilities for both shared folder and links. From the “shared” tab in the admin console, you can quickly check what folders and files your team has shared, and what links have been created.
Third Place: Box Business
Box Business includes both password and expiry settings for links to give you some control over you content. The service falls short, however, by not including a way to easily audit what links have been created. That’s the primary reason we ranked Box Business a bit behind Egnyte Connect and Dropbox Business.
In order to see what links have been created with Box, you have to scan your folders for a link icon beside file names. As a means of auditing links, this approach is both time consuming and error prone.
It’s more secure to set up shared folders with Box for your team and just access content that way. Still, the inclusion of a password option is more than you get with most other tools, including big names like eFolder Anchor, Citrix ShareFile and IBM Connections.
Best EFSS for Productivity Tools
Sync and share are the primary attributes of any EFSS platform. While there’s certainly plenty of disparity between how well services implement those features, many business users might never even notice those differences if they’re only working on small files and prefer to stick to using shared folders. Productivity capabilities, however, or a lack of them, is much harder overlook.
There are a few different ways an EFSS platform can approach incorporating a productivity suite. Usually you’ll see features like task management and chat built directly into the platform. Other providers give you access to native apps developed inhouse. OneDrive for Business, which lets you use Office Online with no extra setup required, is a good example.
Maybe the biggest advantage of one platform over another, though, lies in its third-party application integrations. For example, many of the tools we reviewed, like Syncplicity, didn’t have any such integrations at all. Others, like our three winners in this category, have done impressive work establishing technology partnerships that should greatly benefit business users.
Such integrations might include:
- Project management: Trello, Wrike and Asana
- Document creation: Office Online and Google Docs
- eSignature collection: DocuSign, HelloSign and Adobe Sign
- Communication: Slack, HipChat and Hootsuite
- Workflow: Zapier, IFTTT and built.io
Here’s a look at our three winners.
First Place: Dropbox Business
Dropbox has done a better job building technology partnerships than any other EFSS platform we evaluated during our review period. You can consider the options yourself by visiting the service’s searchable library.
The library lets you search by vendor name or browse by a broad range of categories. Options include, Slack, Trello Microsoft Office, Asana and many, many more.
Dropbox also has a native notetaking app called Dropbox Paper. We compared Paper vs Google Docs and found it a good tool for brainstorming ideas or capturing meeting notes, though it’s not in the same league as some of the best note-taking apps out there. In fact, one area where Dropbox Business falls noticeably short is integrations with those products. You can, however, setup a Dropbox and Evernote integration using IFTTT if that’s something you really need.
Second Place: Box Business
Box Business impresses with integrations with Office Online, Office 365 and Google Docs. Many EFSS tools work with Microsoft but very few work with Google Docs, let alone both Microsoft and Google Docs.
Like Dropbox, Box also has its own notes app, which is called Box Notes. Also like Dropbox, Box has a searchable library of third-party integration options to boost your productivity.
The reason we ranked Box lower than Dropbox is because, while better than most, the Box library falls short of that offered by Dropbox Business (though not by much).
Third Place: IBM Connections
We debated extensively giving the third spot to Egnyte, which has a good third-party app library and, like Box, integrates with both Google Docs and Office Online. In the end, though, we decided to go with IBM Connections.
That may seem like a strange choice given that Connections only gives you a plugin for Office 365 and doesn’t integrate with Office Online or Google Docs. It has a weaker third-party library than Egnyte. However, we were so impressed with IBM Connections’ innovative approach towards socializing collaboration, that we just had to give it a spot.
Connections feels almost more like a social media platform than an EFSS platform. On the homepage, you can leave status updates, check those of your collaborators and review mentions.
Connections also lets you set up community pages, which are like supercharged workgroups. Communities can share content internally, more easily connect with other members, make use of a forum and even build wikis.
In addition to its social aspects, Connections also has task management capabilities and lets you host live meetings with up to 200 participants.
Connections won’t be a good fit for every business, especially if you already make use of tools like Trello, Slack and Skype for Business. However, for SMB owners who want to manage overhead and at the same time engender a deep team vibe, there’s a lot to like with this service.
Best Value EFSS Picks
Cutting costs are always a big concern for SMB owners trying to stay in the black. While important, don’t let that goal fool you into jumping into a service with a low sticker price. With many budget-friendly EFSS tools, you get what you pay for.
A good example of this is Syncplicity. While the annual cost of $60 per user is attractive, Syncplicity only gives you 300GB of shared cloud storage work with and doesn’t have an application integration library.
The three selections below each offer a combination of low pricing and good features, making them ideal solutions for business on the hunt for a solid, inexpensive cloud storage solution.
|Monthly Cost||Minimum Users||Total Storage|
|OneDrive for Business||$5 per user||1||1TB|
|Egnyte Connect Office||$8 per user||5||5TB (shared)|
|IBM Connections Social||$6 per user||1||1TB (shared)|
First Place: OneDrive for Business
Coming in first place is OneDrive for Business. Five dollars per user gets them 1TB of storage each and, unlike most vendors, Microsoft force you to sign up a minimum number of users. Better yet, if you sign up five or more users, Microsoft bumps you up to unlimited storage. This is by far the best value of any EFSS tool we looked at when considering just cost and storage.
In addition to this plan, Microsoft has several more available, making it also the most flexible EFSS tool we tested in terms of scalability. Some plans even let you download full versions of Office 365. The cheapest such option is Office 365 Business, which costs just $8.25 per user per month and gives each of them 1TB of storage.
Second Place: Egnyte Connect
This spot goes to Egnyte Connect Office. The plan requires at least five users, which is a drag, but that’s still better than many of the alternatives. The $8 price tag is very good, too, particularly for 5TB of storage. Unlike with OneDrive, though, that’s shared storage, which is how most EFSS platforms work.
Added licenses don’t get you any more space unless you bump up to the less reasonable Egnyte Connect Business plan, which requires at least 25 users and costs $15 dollars per user for 10TB of shared space.
Third Place: IBM Connections Social
As with Egnyte, the storage space you get with IBM Connections Social is shared among your team. However, that becomes more problematic in light of the fact that you only get 1TB of space instead of 5TB. Each licensed user does get 1GB of personal storage with Connections, but that’s not very much to work with.
For a little more perspective on why we picked our top three, here’s a look at the lowest tier of pricing for some of the other EFSS tools we looked at, in no particular order … except to place Huddle dead last.
|Monthly Cost||Minimum Users||Total Storage|
|Dropbox Business Standard||$15 per user||3||2TB (shared)|
|Box Business Starter||$5 per user||3||100GB|
|Citrix ShareFile||$15 per user||5||1TB (shared)|
|Huddle Essential||$20 per user||15||100GB (shared)|
At $20 per user with a minimum of 15 users and just 100GB of shared cloud storage to work with, Huddle wins the unfortunate distinction of overall lowest value.
Best Security EFSS Picks
Finding the most secure cloud storage solution is one of the topics we hear about the most from our readers at Cloudwards.net. It’s a reasonable concern given how much cybercrime is in the news these days. Cautionary tales include the 2012 Dropbox breach, the 2014 iPhone hack and crippling ransomware malware attacks like WannaCry and Petya.
In addition to databreaches and ransomware, man-in-the-middle and man-in-the-cloud attacks, which are forms of eavesdropping on data transmissions, are on the rise, making strong in-transit security more important than ever.
Most EFSS tools today, including all of the recommendations we’ve made in this roundup, incorporate both in-transit and at-rest encryption to keep the bad guys from reading your files. However, while good encryption is, for all practical purposes, impossible to brute force hack, there’s are other ways your data could be compromised, starting with weak employee passwords.
Secure EFSS platforms offer a range of features to help keep your content away from unwanted eyes. Such features include two-factor authentication, remote device wipes, hardened data centers and integration with end-to-end encryption apps like Boxcryptor.
|Box Business||Dropbox Business||Citrix ShareFile||Egnyte Connect||IBM Connections|
|Encryption||AES 256||AES 256||AES 256||AES 256||AES 128|
|Custom password requirements|
*Dropbox Business Advanced does include SSO integration; Dropbox Business Standard does not.
First Place: Egnyte Connect
Egnyte uses 256-bit AES encryption to scramble data while in transit and at rest on the cloud. Many financial institutions and government organizations only use 128-bit encryption, although 256-bit encryption is pretty standard among cloud storage services.
What really caught our attention with Egnyte was all the added security perks it’s gives you. For example, Egnyte lets you secure your content against the threat of weak passwords with the abilities to:
- Set mandatory password strength requirements
- Require routine password resets
- Suspend user accounts after multiple failed logins
- Require two-factor authentication
Egnyte Connect also integrates with Boxcryptor, which lets you encrypt files yourself before sending them to the cloud. That way, Egnyte can’t use your encryption keys, which it stores, to decrypt your files. That, in turn, prevents the service from handing your data over to the government to comply with surveillance programs or warrants.
For more control over your employee passwords, you can also integrate Egnyte with a single-sign-on (SSO) service. These services not only let you manage logins more closely, if your use other platforms that integrate with the same SSO, your employees can use the same password for all of them. Egnyte offers a few different SSO integration options: OneLogin, Bitium, Okta and Ping Identity.
Egnyte also lets you monitor employee devices that are synced to your cloud storage and sever that connection. That way, if a device is lost or stolen, you can minimize the chances of unauthorized data access.
Finally, Egnyte Connect lets you set up a hybrid approach to cloud storage. With hybrid storage, you can keep some data on the cloud and some data on your own private servers. That way, if you have especially confidential information, you can maintain complete control of that content and set your own security protocols.
Second Place: Box Business
Box Business has similar security capabilities to Egnyte, including 256-bit AES encryption and custom password requirements. The password requirement options aren’t quite as diverse as they are with Egnyte, though, and you can’t set mandatory resets. Box also doesn’t let you perform remote device wipes. You can sever sync connections to devices, but doing so doesn’t erase the content in the disconnected device.
Box does have a key management system (KMS), which lets you set up and maintain your own encryption keys. However, this options is only available for Enterprise customers. SSO integration is another option, but not on Standard accounts.
Overall, the service provides great security, but reserves some of the best features for its Fortune 500 clients rather than small businesses.
Third Place: Citrix ShareFile
Citrix ShareFile does everything Egnyte and Box do, minus Boxcryptor integration and device pinning. Even in light of those misses, in some ways you could argue that ShareFile is the most secure platform of the three thanks to its role customization capabilities. However, we’ll decided to credit ShareFile for that aspect of its platform under our user management section, coming up next.
ShareFile’s password requirement options are excellent, letting you not only set minimum length and expiration dates, but dictate how many numbers and special characters have to be included.
Best User Management EFSS Picks
Closely related to the subject of cloud security is user management. Strong user management capabilities let you control what users can and can’t do. Typically, you’ll at least see options to give users either edit or view-only permissions on files. Better tools offer more powerful role customization. Other attributes we like to see are the abilities to create and manage groups and run reports on user usage and activity.
Pick a tool with good user management controls if you’re working with particularly sensitive intellectual property. The most common cause of data breaches are negligent and malicious employees. Good oversight and restrictive capabilities limit that risk.
First Place: Citrix Sharefile
When it comes to role customization, Citrix Sharefile really goes above and beyond the competition. From within the admin console, you can drill down on user permissions to enable or disable capabilities like the ability to create root-level folders, access reporting tools and use personal storage space.
ShareFile also lets you set up shared and personal address books, groups and team folders.
Finally, you can generate a broad range of reports with ShareFile to monitor activity. Report options include running reports for specific users or groups and selecting various actions like logins, downloads and deletions.
Second Place: Box Business
Box Business is a close second to ShareFile with regard to user management. We like that you can control how much storage individual users can make use of. You can also set general user permissions that restrict their ability to delete, edit and upload files. There are also options to cut off sync capabilities and restrict users from sharing content externally.
More advanced access permissions are managed at the folder level, where seven different types of access level can be granted:
- Co-owner: can do anything including all admin tasks
- Editor: can do everything except restrict invitations
- Viewer Uploader: basic user with upload capabilities
- Previewer Uploader: limited user with upload capabilities
- Viewer: basic user without upload capabilities
- Previewer: limited user without upload capabilities
- Uploader: can upload content and create subfolders
While some of the best user management features are reserved for Box Enterprise customers, there are plenty of controls to help SMB owners keep a tight rein on their content, too.
Third Place: Egnyte Connect (Business)
Egnyte Connect has advanced user role customization, but you have to be an Advanced plan user to gain access to them. Since that plan level requires at least 25 users, it might not be the best option for SMBs.
On any subscription level, you can create standard users, advanced users and admins. Admins can manage folders and groups by adding users and setting permissions. Power users can sync and share content, view users and invite standard users to access content. Standard users are limited users who are restricted to web UI access.
Whether you’re on the Standard plan or Advanced plan, Egnyte gives you access to good, but not ShareFile good, reporting capabilities to monitor your account usage. From the reports center, you can access a general dashboard, plus tabs for file server size, folder size, link summary, sync status, lock summary and user permissions. There’s also an “audit report” option to run detailed reports regarding things like file usage and logins.
Best Overall EFSS Picks
We took in all of the above and also looked at basic user experience and customer support to generate our list of best overall EFSS platforms. These rankings are apt to cause a bit of debate, as these things do. That’s because there’s no “right” cloud storage platform for every single business owner.
While there are many points with regard to sync, file sharing, productivity tools, value, security and user management that are mostly objective, there’s also plenty that’s subjective, too, particularly when it comes to user experience.
Then, of course, businesses have different needs when it comes to things like cloud storage space. Some might need 10TB, while others might be fine with 100GB. The same is true of sync speed. If you’re not actively working with collaborators, you might be okay foregoing the block-level sync capabilities of Dropbox Business and Egnyte Connection in favor of some other feature, like IBM Connection’s communities and hosted meetings features.
So, feel free to disagree. In fact, we welcome your opinions in the comments below. Different perspectives will both help your fellow SMB owners and help us tune this report for future iterations.
Without further ado, here are our top six picks for best EFSS platforms for SMB owners. We include a brief recap of some of the points from above, along with a few other notes about why we like each service.
First Place: Egnyte Connect
Egnyte Connect does pretty much everything right, starting with the most pivotal capabilities of an EFSS tool, file syncing and sharing. Egnyte is the only other EFSS tool besides Dropbox that we reviewed to offer block-level sync, placing it second in that category. It was also the most advanced tool we reviewed when it comes to folder and file sharing features. Then, we marked it number one in security, number two in value and number three in user management.
The only category we didn’t name Egnyte a top-three service is productivity tools, where it was edged out for the third spot by IBM Connections, but barely.
We also love the Egnyte user experience. Both the web interface and mobile app are perfectly designed and aesthetically pleasing. Egnyte also has integrated task management capabilities and a good third-party app library.
For SMB owners shopping for a strong all around tool, Egnyte is worth a trial. The service may not have the userbase of Dropbox Business and Box, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see that change in the near future.
Second Place: Dropbox Business
Like any large corporation, Dropbox occasionally gets its share of bad press. Some of it’s deserved, including the 2012 data breach, which saw over 68 million user accounts compromised. Making matters worse, Dropbox didn’t report the full extent of the breach until four years later.
That said, there’s a reason so many users love this service. Dropbox has been on the cutting edge of sync capabilities since it was founded in 2008. One of the most common remarks about Dropbox that we hear from users is how much faster and more reliable its sync is than other cloud storage services, like Google Drive and OneDrive. That’s all thanks to its block-level sync architecture and that’s why we rated Dropbox Business as the best EFSS tool for sync.
Dropbox also has a great productivity app library, which earned it the top spot in that category.
If you’re worried that your files not being secure with Dropbox, there are plenty of steps you can take to fix that. Dropbox Business lets you enable two-factor authentication and remote-wipe devices. Also, Dropbox does integrate with Boxcryptor if you want to set up end-to-end encryption. Just be aware that in doing so, Dropbox’s block-level sync feature won’t work anymore because those two features are mutually exclusive.
Third Place: Box Business
Box Business offers much more value to its Enterprise clients than its SMB users, but it’s a strong pick. The service didn’t place first in any one category, but it did come in second in productivity tools, user management and security, and third in file sharing. We especially like that Box integrates with both Office Online and Google Docs and gives you advanced user customization options.
Like both Dropbox Business and Egnyte Connect, the Box user experience is excellent and should provide no significant hurdles to streamlining your collaborations. Really, the only knock on Box is its lack of block-level sync, which both of our top two picks offer.
Fourth Place: Citrix ShareFile
More than any other tool we reviewed, ShareFile excelled at user role and report customization options. Those features landed the service our top nod in the user management category. To get the most out of those capabilities, though, you’ll have to sign up for the Citrix ShareFile Business plan.
We also loved ShareFile’s overall approach to security, which earned it the number three spot in that category. We’d like to see ShareFile expand its third-party app library to match that of Dropbox, Box and Dropbox. We’d also like to see its support reply times cut down. Finally, the user experience, while okay, isn’t nearly as strong as what you get with Dropbox, Box, Egnyte and a few other tools.
Fifth Place: Microsoft OneDrive for Business
If you’re looking for budget EFSS tool, OneDrive for Business is your best bet. Not only is cloud storage not shared, the average user cost is generally cheaper than most other tools. Even better, it comes integrated with Office Online and some plans get you Office 365.
There’s quite a bit holding OneDrive back from moving up our list, however. User reporting options are week and while they’re out there, Microsoft doesn’t make it easy to find third-party integrations. Security is also weak, or seems to be, anyway. Documentation for OneDrive security (and most other Microsoft products, for that matter) is sparse, as well.
We do like that OneDrive supports incremental sync for Office files, but would like to see that function extended to all file types, as Microsoft has previously indicated it was going to do.
Sixth Place: IBM Connections
IBM Connections is the oddball of the list, and we kind of like that about it. Most EFSS tools seem like clones of Dropbox. IBM Connections doesn’t and it’s because of its social capabilities.
Status updates, communities, wikis and online meetings capabilities will appeal to SMB owners that want to build a more personal approach to team management. Better yet, it’s cheap, which earned it the third spot in our “best value” rankings.
There are some weaknesses in the service, however, that we’d like to see corrected. These include no password protection for link shares and an almost non-existent portfolio of third-party app integrations.
In our minds, there’s little question that right now the battle for EFSS supremacy is three-horse race between Egnyte, Dropbox and Box.
All three companies cater first and foremost to business clients. By its own admission, Egnyte has historically focused on SMB clients, which part of the reason it fared so well in this roundup. Box, meanwhile, seems to prefer targeting Enterprise customers. Dropbox … Well, Dropbox wants everybody.
For outside the box solutions, Citrix ShareFile and IBM Connections are worth a look, albeit for different reasons. For budget-conscious users, OneDrive is likely the best bet.
Of course, we’d love to hear from more SMB users on their preferred EFSS picks, so don’t forget to drop us a note in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.