Dropbox Business Review
If you're looking for an EFSS to propel your business forward, going for Dropbox for Business might be a good bet. It has all the strengths of its consumer-oriented little brother, plus some stunning features all its own. Read our full review for the details.
Free plan available Save 17 %
Dropbox is a household name, so it’s no wonder that its business version is often the first EFSS platform company owners look to when deciding to move their data to the cloud. It helps that Dropbox Business has a good mix of simplicity, speed and rich collaboration options. Because of those qualities, it made our best EFSS roundup.
Dropbox has also set many trends in both device syncing and file sharing, and it has a new sync feature that we’ll talk about below. Dropbox Business provides strong security features that should keep your data safe, so long as you take advantage of them. If you encounter a problem, you can use Dropbox’s 24/7 support channels to get help fast.
However, Dropbox Business has limited role customization and reporting features. Plus, it’s not cheap. We’re going to talk about these drawbacks, along with what Dropbox Business does right, in the categories below. If you’re interested, stick with us in this Dropbox Business review. If you’re looking for a personal solution, read our regular Dropbox review.
- Smart sync
- Good file-sharing features
- Strong application integrations
- User-friendly experience
- Good security options
- Limited role customization
- Limited group customization
- No 24/7 telephone support
- Dropbox Business
- Shared Folders
- Google Docs Integration
- Visit Dropbox BusinessDropbox Business Review
- Citrix ShareFile
- Shared Folders
- Google Docs Integration
- Visit Citrix ShareFileCitrix ShareFile Review
Dropbox Business has three plans, which charge per person and require a minimum of three users. The first two plans, “standard” and “advanced,” are good options for SMBs, while the third one, “enterprise,” is good for large companies.
You need to contact Dropbox to get a price estimate for the “enterprise” plan, but the other two have monthly and annual subscriptions available.
1-year plan $ 12.50/ month
$150.00 billed every year
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1-year plan $ 20.00/ month
$240.00 billed every year
Save 20 %
Keep in mind that the 5TB of storage you get with Dropbox Business is shared space. That’s how most EFSS platforms work, with OneDrive being the exception. You can read our OneDrive for Business review for more details on this. Still, your users can sign up for personal Dropbox accounts, too, and get 2GB of free personal storage.
Dropbox for Business Pricing
Dropbox Business plans aren’t cheap. For example, with Egnyte, you get 5TB of shared space for $8 per month per user, which is almost half the cost of Dropbox. Before subscribing, be sure to make use of Dropbox Business’s free 30-day trial, which can give you a great overview of how the service works.
That said, Dropbox’s advanced plan gets you unlimited storage, but it is far more expensive than the unlimited plan of its other competitor, Crashplan. If you’re a small business and don’t need advanced integrations, you might be better off using Crashplan. You can read more about it in our CrashPlan review.
Dropbox has been at the forefront of user experience since it launched in 2007. That goes for its business version, too. The Dropbox desktop client is available for both Windows and Mac. We like that Linux is supported — Ubuntu and Fedora distributions — because many business cloud storage services lack Linux support.
After you install the desktop client, Dropbox creates a special cloud-connected folder in your file system. It’s called a “sync folder,” and the entire EFSS experience operates around it. In fact, this feature was created by Dropbox founder Drew Houston. We’ll talk more about how Dropbox handles sync in the corresponding category below.
The desktop client is simple and lets you review your recent activities, along with those of your team members. You can also see folders, activities and notifications. If you have many files, the desktop client lets you use the search bar to quickly sort through them.
Plus, you can access the Dropbox Paper app, open your sync folder, launch the web client and create new files and folders. Overall, the desktop client is enjoyable and streamlined.
If you’re away from your computer and don’t want to download the desktop client to get just one file, you can log in to the web client. The client also enables you to manage your Dropbox Business account and your users, which we’ll talk about later.
The web client has lots of negative space, which makes it clear and simple. Both are design traits that Dropbox is famous for.
Content navigation is intuitive thanks to the menu on the left, but if you can’t find a specific folder or file, you can just look for them using the search bar at the top. It’s nice that it begins the search as soon as you start typing.
In addition, you can access the most common file and folder actions just by hovering over them. If you need more, all you have to do is click the “three dots.” Plus, you can see file details on the right and, below that, the list of additional actions you can take.
If you’re on the move, you can still access your files and folders using your smartphone. Dropbox’s mobile clients works on Android and iOS. Like desktop and web clients, the mobile client is simple to use.
The default view shows your recent and starred files, along with a big “+” button, which lets you scan a document, take a photo, upload photos and videos, and create a new folder or text file. The burger menu in the top-left corner enables you to enter the Dropbox Paper app, access your offline files, manage settings and monitor the activity of your team.
You can manage your team from the admin console of the web client. If you’re the team administrator, you can invite new members via email, but you can also upload a CSV template file to invite users in bulk. If you need to purchase more licenses, you can do that from the admin console, too.
You can assign tiered admin roles to users, but you need to subscribe to either Dropbox Business Advanced or Enterprise to unlock that feature. Otherwise, you can grant user permissions to folders, which can be set to either the “view” or “edit” access level.
Generally, Dropbox’s role-customization options are relatively sparse compared with some other tools; you can choose to assign users to one of three admin roles.
The first role is “team admin,” and it enables a user to manage everything for all admins and members. The second is “user management admin,” which can add, remove and manage member accounts. Finally, a “support admin” can help with limited tasks, including password resets. You can find a detailed comparison of the roles here.
There’s no way to customize roles, though. If you want advanced customization, a great alternative EFSS choice would be Citrix ShareFile, and you can read more about in our Citrix ShareFile review.
The admin console also includes a dashboard, which lets you monitor account usage. Plus, there’s an “activity” tab that lets you create custom reports based on a huge set of factors, including logins, file shares, passwords, file edits and device syncs.
You can also use Dropbox to create user groups. This lets you manage folder access for multiple people at once so you can reduce the amount of admin work you need to do.
However, the number of customization options available for groups is pretty limited when compared to some other services. For a tool that has powerful group management options, check out our IBM Connections review.
When you set up Dropbox Business, you automatically get a central “team folder” that all of your added employees will have access to. You can create subfolders within it and restrict access to it to specific users or groups.
Folder sharing is the primary method of sharing content between teammates, but users can also share both folders and files by generating a secure link. To do that, just click on the “share” button that appears when you hover over any given object.
When you generate a link, you can attach two levels of permission to it: “can view” and “can edit.” With the “can view” permission, users can view, download and comment. The “can edit” option has all the previous permissions but adds the ability to edit, delete and add files.
Once you create a link, you can restrict it to team members or people who have the required password. You can also make it accessible to anyone, regardless of whether they have a Dropbox account or not.
However, as the admin, you can prevent users from sharing content outside your business, which helps if you’re working with sensitive intellectual property. Other content control options include link expiry dates, passwords and the option to disable downloads.
Dropbox natively integrates with Slack, so you can share files directly to it by clicking the arrow in the “share” menu associated with a file, then clicking “share in Slack.” In fact, Dropbox is featured in our best cloud storage for Slack roundup.
Besides sharing your own content, you can also invite collaborators to share files with you by using file requests. You can define what you’re requesting and where the files should go in your Dropbox folder. If the request is urgent, you can also set a deadline.
Dropbox also provides an audit page for shares. You can access it via the “sharing” link from the left-side menu in the web client. The sharing page enables you to easily track shared folders, files and generated links. Without this feature, which many cloud storage services don’t have, it would be easy to lose track of who has access to your content.
Device synchronization, or sync for short, means you can access the same content from a variety of devices. In addition, changes to content made on one device will show in near real time on the others. The key mechanism that enables this, as we said, is the sync folder.
A sync folder looks just like any other folder, but any data you place within it will be stored both on your computer hard drive and on the cloud. As soon as you make a change to that file, Dropbox will reflect that change in the cloud and any other connected device. Because of this, you can use multiple devices to work on your files and never skip a beat.
Initial file uploads to a cloud server can be slow. We tested it using our 1GB zipped folder. The initial sync took several minutes more than what we expected, considering our upload speed, but the transfer was still fast.
However, changes to your content after the initial upload will be faster, thanks to the use of block-level file copying, which transfers only the changed portions of files, rather than the entire file. This helps save you time and bandwidth.
Even though block-level file copying offers significant advantages, most of the competition hasn’t implemented it yet. In fact, Dropbox and OneDrive are the only two major players that do, and the latter uses it only to sync Microsoft Office files.
In addition to standard sync, Dropbox Business offers “smart sync,” which lets you configure your sync to store content only online, not on your hard drive, but still make it visible in your file system explorer. This helps you save hard-disk space, which is especially useful if you’re stuck using one of the small solid-state drives common with newer laptops
Other EFSS services have a similar feature called “selective sync.” The difference is that selective sync doesn’t let you see your online-only files in your sync folder.
Like other EFSS tools, Dropbox has a library of third-party integrations. However, Dropbox also has a couple of native apps, called Dropbox Paper and Dropbox Showcase.
Dropbox Paper is an app that lets you add text, images, videos and other content to what looks like a blank sheet of paper. In fact, we’ve pitted Dropbox Paper vs. Google Docs, but Google Docs proved to be better for working with text documents. If you want to learn more about Paper, read our Dropbox Paper review.
However, if you just need to take notes and want features to enrich them, read our best note-taking apps roundup.
Dropbox Showcase enables you to share your content on a professional-looking page, which is a unique way of promoting your work. There’s no way to share directly to social networks, though.
Dropbox Business can’t match the number of native productivity apps that Google Drive and One Drive have, but it makes up for that with its library of integrations. In fact, Dropbox Business integrates with both Google and Microsoft.
However, you will have to subscribe to Google’s G Suite or Microsoft’s Office 365 to edit files. Previewing Office documents in Office Online is free, though.
In addition to Office and Google integrations, Dropbox offers many third-party tools you can pick from. You can search through all available options by visiting the Dropbox app integration page. Some of the most prominent ones are Slack, Asana and Adobe.
One of the biggest concerns when deciding to store data in the cloud is the strength and reliability of cloud security. Dropbox, in fact, was involved in one of the most high-profile data thefts on record in 2012. However, since then, Dropbox has improved its security. Plus, the security of Dropbox Business is stronger than that of regular Dropbox.
Dropbox secures files in transit from your computer to its servers using the TLS protocol, which creates a transfer tunnel protected by AES 128-bit or higher encryption. When your files are at rest in the Dropbox cloud, AES 256-bit encryption scrambles them so nobody can read them.
Unfortunately, Dropbox manages your encryption key, so you don’t have the benefit of private encryption. However, Dropbox integrates with Boxcryptor, which is an add-on that provides private encryption. Keep in mind that Dropbox’s block-level sync won’t work, though, if you choose to enable Boxcryptor. You can learn more about it in our Boxcryptor review.
Another security drawback is that Dropbox keeps your file metadata in plain text. However, that’s common with most EFSS tools because metadata is used for indexing and speeding up the user experience.
While your data is at rest on servers, it is vulnerable to more traditional dangers, such as natural disasters and intrusions. To thwart those and the risk of server failure, Dropbox has hardened data centers. They have ISO 27001 accreditation, which means they’re certified as having good information security. They also undergo SOC 2 authentication.
In addition to data center intrusions and data breaches, there are two other types of cybercrime that businesses should know about: ransomware attacks and man-in-the-middle attacks. Ransomware encrypts your data and requires that you pay the hackers before they decrypt it, while man-in-the-middle attacks are a type of in-transit eavesdropping.
Dropbox protects you from ransomware using its versioning capabilities. The in-transit encryption and the TLS protocol protect you against eavesdropping.
Plus, Dropbox has two other security features that will appeal to business owners that need additional assurance their content won’t fall into the wrong hands.
The first is two-factor authentication, which ensures that even if someone manages to steal your credentials, they won’t be able to access your account. It does that by requiring your employees to input a special code in addition to their normal user credentials when they log in from an unrecognized computer.
This code is sent via text, and it’s a great method to ensure nobody will be able to exploit any weak passwords that some of your employees might have created. However, you should create a strong password, even with two-factor authentication enabled.
In addition, if someone steals your synced device or you lose it, you can perform a remote wipe of that device. What that does is sever the sync folder connection and delete any content inside of it. That said, any business content the device’s owner might have moved outside the sync folder will still be vulnerable.
Resolving technical issues is nobody’s idea of fun, but for SMB users, not doing so might mean loss of income. Because of that, it’s important for a service to have good technical support, which helps to quickly resolve issues. You can find support by entering your admin console and clicking “help.”
From the help page, you can consult the Dropbox guide, browse help articles and contact technical support via chat or telephone.
The guide page actually contains support for three different groups of users: team admins, team members and individual users who use regular Dropbox. The guides are aimed mostly at new users and are pretty rudimentary.
The articles in the self-support site are more useful. Among them are articles on topics such as recovering deleted files, requiring two-factor authentication and troubleshooting syncing. They’re precise and clear, so you don’t need to be very technical to make sense of them.
You can browse articles by category or run a search if you can’t find what you’re looking for. There’s also access to a user forum, which is always a good addition because they enable you to get help from the community instead of just one support technician. The community is active, and you shouldn’t have to wait long for an answer.
If you don’t feel like digging for a solution yourself, you can contact Dropbox’s technical support staff and get a response from them.
Users get phone support regardless of their plan, and you can access it from the team admin console. It’s available 24 hours for “enterprise” users, and during business hours for users on “standard” and “advanced” plans. There’s also chat support, which is available 24/7. We tried it, and we got in touch with a representative in short order.
You can send an email to support 24/7, but you could wait up to 24 hours for a response, even as a business user. We sent an email asking a couple of questions and got a response in about 15 hours.
Dropbox Business is a great service. It had a breach years ago, but the service upgraded its security to compensate and it now has all the security features we like to see in an EFSS solution.
The user experience is simple but offers a sufficient number of features to enhance workflow and team collaboration. Although Dropbox is renowned for its user experience, the biggest advantage it has is its sync capability.
Competitors have copied the model, but they don’t quite match the true real-time collaboration like Dropbox. In addition, smart sync just makes the whole experience more enjoyable.
That said, Dropbox’s native productivity features are limited to the Dropbox Paper app. It’s an interesting feature, but it can’t match the ones provided by Google Drive and OneDrive for Business. However, Dropbox integrates with Microsoft Office and G Suite, so you can enjoy their features as long as you have a subscription.
The other big drawback is the price. There are other cheaper solutions out there that are still capable, which you can try. That said, if you feel you’re getting your money’s worth with Dropbox Business, then go for it. If not, then consult our EFSS reviews for alternative ideas.
We’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences with Dropbox Business. How do you compare it to other EFSS solutions? Tell us in the comments below. Thank you for reading.