Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage systems on the market, enticing users with its 2GB personal free plan. However Dropbox Business is a different beast entirely, with its own set of features and pricing. In this Dropbox Business review, we’re going to cover everything you need to know before signing up.
Some of our findings match our Dropbox Personal review, particularly when it comes to pricing and security. Dropbox Business goes further in some areas, though, earning it a spot among the best business cloud storage.
Still, it’s not the best option for every business. Privacy is still an issue for Dropbox Business, and its higher-than-average price tag may leave your company high and dry. Even so, it’s hard to deny Dropbox’s value for businesses, with it going toe-to-toe with our favorite business provider, Egnyte Connect (read our Egnyte review for more).
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Unlimited storage option
- Very easy to use
- Many third-party integrations
- Dropbox Paper & HelloSign electronic signature
- Smart Sync & block-level sync
- Robust self-support system
- Some looming privacy concerns
- Unimpressive Standard plan
Dropbox is a productivity-first service, meaning it forgoes some security features in favor of productivity features (read our Dropbox vs Tresorit comparison to see that in action). Although it’s clear Dropbox loses some security measures — zero-knowledge encryption, in particular — the features it gains outweigh more than what it gives up.
Dropbox Paper for Businesses
Dropbox Paper comes with all Dropbox for Business accounts, and although it’s not the best note-taking app around, Paper is still a nice feature. Similar to Evernote, Paper presents you with a blank page and nothing more. From there, you can add text, images or really anything else you could want.
As a note-taking app, Paper is lacking. However, there’s one big reason to use it: Paper is already a part of Dropbox, making it easier for others to jump in and collaborate on your notes. Even better, you can find all of your notes in your account without connecting an external application.
It’s only good for basic note-taking, though. Paper hasn’t progressed much since its launch; it’s still devoid of features that competing apps offer, such as Microsoft’s OneNote. Still, it’s free. If you want to read our full thoughts, check out our Dropbox Paper review.
Beyond Paper, Dropbox has a lot of collaboration tools. They just come from other sources. The Dropbox App Center is one of the most robust we’ve seen, with integrations for everything from Monday.com to Slack to AutoCAD.
Even better, the integrations are just that: integrations. Instead of just opening another tab, Dropbox apps work within the Dropbox interface. For example, with the Vimeo integration, you can automatically upload videos stored in your Dropbox.
Dropbox makes its core API available, too, so your business can integrate just about anything. Outside of developing new apps, you can use the Dropbox Business API to automatically control user access, create new users and audit team members.
Dropbox supports Adobe Sign for signing digital documents, but you can do so without any third-party integrations. HelloSign is Dropbox’s solution for e-signatures, and it’s available directly in the web interface. Simply select a file, choose the signature fields and sign. Because HelloSign works within Dropbox, your signature is automatically saved and synced.
With HelloSign, it’s easy to store and share files that need a signature. You can even add multiple signers to the same document. HelloSign isn’t a full feature in Dropbox Business, though. With Dropbox Business, you can perform up to three signatures each month. It’s $15 per month for unlimited access.
Dropbox Business Features Overview
|Sync Any Folder|
|Max File Size||50 GB|
|File Link Sharing|
|Link Expiry Dates|
|Link Download Limits|
|Set User Roles|
|Monitor User Activity|
|Restrict User Storage|
|Remote Device Wipe|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Custom Password Requirements|
|Live Chat Support|
Dropbox Business isn’t cheap, but unlike some of its competitors, it offers enough storage space at the top of the range to justify the high cost. Still, there are competing services, such as MEGA, that offer more storage space for less (read our MEGA review).
- : Total Storage: 3TB, Price per user, 1 user
- : 3TB
- : Total Storage: 5TB, Price per user, 3+ users
- : 5TB
- : Total Storage: unlimited, Price per user, 3+ users
- : Unlimited GB
Although Professional is under Dropbox Business, it’s actually only for a single user. Over a personal Dropbox account, Professional adds some useful features. Most notably, it increases file retention time from 30 days to 180 days and increases transfer sizes from 2GB to 100GB.
The Standard plan is a downgrade in many ways, though it’s cheaper and allows you to add multiple users to the same plan. Essentially, the Standard plan is the business-equivalent of Dropbox Plus.
Outside of administrative tools, Standard has the same 2GB transfer limit as the Plus plan and doesn’t support single sign-on (SSO). However, it comes with 5TB of shared space and keeps the 180-day file retention time of Professional.
Dropbox Advanced and Enterprise Plans
For most teams, though, Dropbox Business Advanced makes the most sense. It’s pricey at around $20 per user per month, but it comes with unlimited storage. Moreover, it includes tiered admin roles and audit logs, both of which are necessary for most businesses.
If you still need more, Dropbox also provides the Enterprise plan through contact only. Over the Advanced plan, Enterprise includes hands-on training for users, around the clock support and network control. Overall, though, Enterprise is basically Advanced.
Standard Plan Woes
The problem with Dropbox Business’ pricing is the Standard plan. Frankly, it doesn’t make sense when incredibly expensive services, like Tresorit, provide storage per user over a shared pool (read our Tresorit review). Using the price of Advanced as a baseline in comparison to other cloud storage services isn’t as favorable for Dropbox.
For example, pCloud Business includes 1TB of storage per user for less than $10 per user per month (read our pCloud Business review). Sync.com for Teams offers that same amount of storage for even less: $5 per user per month, as you can see in our Sync.com for Teams review.
Thankfully, Dropbox doesn’t expect you to pay upfront. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial, no credit card required. Even better, Dropbox lets you choose between the Standard and Advanced plans for your trial, so you can find out if an upgrade is worth it.
Ease of Use
Setting up a new Dropbox Business account is simple. If you’re taking advantage of the free trial, all you need to do is enter some basic information and click “start.” Dropbox does an excellent job explaining the essential functionality of the web application during setup and even points you toward the download of the desktop app.
Despite sporting a similar interface to most other cloud storage services, Dropbox still manages to set itself apart. Small features like the inclusion of a home screen — which shows your recently accessed files, as well as suggested files — showcase how mature Dropbox is as a service. It’s clear in other areas, too. For example, going to “dropbox.com” takes you directly to your account if you’re already signed in.
Usability is, frankly, second to none. The web interface has a similar setup to Google Drive and OneDrive, with the main window showing your files and folders, and a left side menu showing your navigation options (including an option for Dropbox Paper). The robust settings screen is just a few clicks away through your profile icon in the upper-right corner of the screen.
Despite Dropbox’s simplicity, the settings screen is filled with options. There, you can manage your notifications, complete a security check-up, and connect one of Dropbox’s various supported apps. Document management is equally as simple, with options to star files, rewind them to previous versions and view events.
On desktop, the Dropbox app mainly serves as a visual hub. Still, you can drag and drop files into the desktop app and perform various functions, including sharing files, starring items, and adding new users.
Business Dropbox is basically Personal Dropbox from a usability perspective, and that’s a good thing. Everything is within a few clicks from the web interface, and managing your files on desktop is a breeze with the local Dropbox Business app.
Our only criticism — and it’s a small one — is the occasionally sluggish web application. It’s far from unusable, but with pop-ups waiting to tell you about Dropbox’s various features, the web application can feel a little slow at times. Thankfully, more data in your account doesn’t further the issue.
File Sharing & Syncing
Dropbox is a sharing-focused service, and you don’t need to look beyond the web application to see that. Outside of the expanded options menu — noted by three dots — the only option next to your files and folders is “share.”
From there, you can add new team members to the file or folder, create a link with various settings and even see who has viewed the file or folder. You don’t need to share with Dropbox, though.
Next to the “share option” is a dropdown menu, and in it, you can click “connect” to share files and folders through other channels. As we’ve already touched on, Dropbox is filled with third-party integrations. Having Slack, Trello, Gmail and Zoom sharing at the ready makes actually using those integrations much easier.
It’s also worth pointing out Dropbox’s high transfer limits here. Although the Standard plan is limited to 2GB transfers, the Professional and Advanced plans raise the limit to 100GB (and offer customization options). Dropbox is perfect for large files not only for its unlimited storage on the Advanced plan but also its high transfer limits.
Dropbox Smart Sync
Standard with all Dropbox Business subscriptions is smart sync. With it, you can easily access the contents of your Dropbox account on desktop without actually taking up space on your computer. When you set up the desktop app, Dropbox will ask if you want to turn this feature on — it’s on by default — or manage your account manually.
Smart sync is a perfect feature for businesses. Although Dropbox isn’t the only cloud file storage service with such a feature — Google Drive offers something similar — Dropbox earned the top spot in our best cloud storage with sync guide for a reason. The “smart sync” system, which you mainly interact with on desktop, is simply more intuitive than competing options.
Although you’ll need an internet connection to use smart sync, you can edit online-only files locally offline. Simply right-click on the file in question, download it to your computer and make any changes you want. Once you connect again, Dropbox will synchronize the changes, and as long as you update the file for “online-only” status, you can freely delete it from your computer.
Additionally, Dropbox supports block-level sync, allowing you to quickly update files with changes rather than fully replacing the file.
To test Dropbox’s speed, we used a 1GB test folder filled with a variety of file types. We uploaded and downloaded this folder twice, then averaged the results. Before running our tests, we noted our internet speed at 460 Mbps download and 22 Mbps upload on a wired connection. With that, we’d expect an upload speed of around six minutes and 30 seconds and a download speed of 18 seconds.
|First Attempt:||Second Attempt:||Average:|
Dropbox stays true to those numbers, for the most part. Our average is just above the expected time, with our first trial taking around 45 seconds longer than our second one. For downloads, there’s little to report. Our average matches our expected time, with some slight variations between trials.
When you use Dropbox, though, you shouldn’t notice the time. Unlike most other cloud storage services, Dropbox doesn’t provide any upload information. With the web application, you simply drag and drop your files and wait for the upload to finish. There isn’t a progress bar or any other indication of when the upload will finish.
The desktop application provides a little more information, noting finished files with a green checkmark and currently uploading files with a small blue icon. When it comes to speed, Dropbox is as fast as they come. However, it would be nice to have some sort of upload status bar.
Security & Privacy
Dropbox felt a blow in 2012 when it experienced a data breach, compromising the emails and passwords of 68 million users. Originally, it was just emails, until later in 2016 when Dropbox discovered that passwords were also compromised. It’s been nearly a decade since, and thankfully, Dropbox has used that time to grow.
Now, Dropbox provides an extensive look into how its security works, and from looking over it, the system is impressive. There’s a chain of command through various different servers, splitting up server-side operations to provide better security.
For example, Instead of encrypting data at the server it’s stored on, Dropbox uses a separate “block” server for breaking up the data into blocks and encrypting it before it heads to long-term storage.
The most important of these servers is the metadata server. The metadata server stores everything about you and the data in your account, but not the data itself. Things like file names and types are on the server and tied to your personal information. However, the actual contents on your account are hosted on an entirely separate server.
We like the decentralized nature of Dropbox’s security system. Encryption is impressive, too. At rest, Dropbox protects your files with AES-256 — read our description of encryption for more — and in transit, with an SSL/TLS layer. Two-factor authentication is available, as well as support for SSO services like OneLogin (read our OneLogin review).
As we’ve seen with services like Box Business, though, third-party integrations mean server-side encryption (read our Box review). Dropbox is no different, and worse, it doesn’t give you an option to manage your own encryption keys as Egnyte does.
That said, Dropbox has an integration for Boxcryptor, so you can encrypt your files before you upload them (read our Boxcryptor review).
Breaking Down Privacy
Even with a data breach on record, Dropbox’s security is excellent. For privacy, there isn’t a clear answer. In short, Dropbox logs just about everything, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most enterprise-level services do. Additionally, Dropbox shares that information with third-party companies Dropbox is working with, as well as services that use the Dropbox API.
Dropbox’s board of directors has drawn criticism in the past, though. The list of board members mostly consists of former executives, but there’s one member who comes from a different line of work: Condoleezza Rice, who served as the U.S. National Security Advisor from 2001 to 2005, and as Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009.
The connective tissue is thin, but it’s still present. Rice is known for her involvement in the Bush administration after 9/11, including being tied to controversial interrogation techniques used by the CIA during that time. Although she doesn’t have any direct connection to the Patriot Act, she worked for the Bush administration during that time, and many privacy activists have been fighting against Dropbox for years because of it.
Rice hasn’t been involved in the U.S. government since 2009, though she has visited President Donald Trump in the White House since. As an advocate for warrantless wiretapping under the Bush administration, the concern is clear. This section is without an answer, unfortunately. Rice remains on the board of directors, and the blog post in which Dropbox explained its reasoning for adding her has since been removed.
No matter where you are in Dropbox, it’s easy to find help. A small question mark icon follows you around the web application, and clicking it will take you directly to the admin console with Dropbox’s various support options.
Dropbox offers starter guides for team members, team admins and individual users, and you shouldn’t skip past them. These guides aren’t just extended manuals, but rather long-form, interactive tutorials. Short of troubleshooting, these guides tell you just about everything you need to know about Dropbox.
Beyond guides, there are other self-help resources. The knowledgebase is excellent, with a long list of highly detailed guides. Getting around the knowledgebase is a different story, though. It’s not difficult to navigate, but with Dropbox’s wealth of guides, getting around can sometimes feel like a chore.
In addition to Dropbox’s own documentation, you can reach out on Twitter with any problems you have, or contribute to Dropbox’s forum, which has over one million registered users.
Business users also have access to live chat and phone support, both of which aren’t offered on Dropbox’s individual plans. Chat isn’t around the clock, unfortunately, and although phone support operates all 24 hours of the day, it only does so from Monday through Friday. Thankfully, business users get priority email support. Like the self-support resources, you can find the contact options on the same page in the admin console.
Dropbox does everything right, from its unlimited storage option to its long list of third-party integrations. Business users have everything they need, but that comes at a price. Dropbox’s pedigree as a storage provider carries a high price tag. That price is worth it, but depending on how many employees you have, it still may be too much.
If you can foot the bill, you’ll find an incredibly easy-to-use storage service, regardless of your company size. However, ease of use is favored over security, and although it’s been almost a decade since Dropbox’s data breach, we still have some questions when it comes to privacy.
What do you think, though? Are you going to sign up for a Dropbox Business account? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.
- Dropbox Business is for three users or more, and it comes with features like user management and third-party app integrations. It also includes more support options over Personal, as well as higher transfer limits and more storage options.
- Despite Dropbox’s 2012 data breach, it’s proven to be a highly secure service since. However, there are some questions about user privacy.
- Dropbox Business has two plans. Standard and Dropbox Business Advanced are priced at $12.50 and $20 per user per month, respectively, when billed annually. There’s also a Business plan for individual use, which runs $16.58 per month when billed annually.