Dropbox vs Box

Dropbox Business and Box, two great services. The former is the business version of a great service with 500 million users and the latter counts many Fortune 500 companies as clients. In this article, we’ll pit Dropbox vs Box and tell you how they do.

Do note that we’re talking about Dropbox’s business variant throughout the piece, as Box would crush regular Dropbox without a doubt. Check out our Dropbox review to find out why.

Both Box and Dropbox Business are on our best enterprise file sync and share list, with Dropbox Business pulling ahead and claiming second overall, while Box came in third. We’re going to compare them again and see if the result stays the same. You can refer to our separate Dropbox Business review and Box review to learn more.

If you don’t need an EFSS service, but a regular cloud storage service, you should refer to our comparison of the best cloud storage services and our best cloud storage guide while you try to make up your mind.

We’re going to compare Dropbox Business and Box over the next five rounds. At the end of each round, we’ll name a winner and declare an overall winner at the conclusion based on the results.

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1

Sync

How fast you can sync your files depends on several factors, including the cloud storage service, your internet service provider and how close you are to a server. It’s best if the service uses a block-level sync algorithm to speed up the transfer of files after they have been uploaded. Collaborating with others without that is tedious.

It’s also good if you can limit your computer resources or bandwidth if the sync process takes too much out of them.

Dropbox invented the common model of sync, which consists of a system tray icon and a special sync folder. The system tray icon lets you access settings and your sync folder. Anything you put in that folder gets synced to the cloud.

Dropbox Business uses one of the fastest block-level sync algorithms on the market. That is no surprise considering the service invented it. In our tests, an initial upload of 500MB took between 10 and 20 minutes.

Another plus for Dropbox Business is a feature called “smart sync. It lets you configure your content so that it’s only stored online, while still showing it in your Windows File Explorer or macOS Finder.

Box follows the common model of sync that Dropbox developed, so it also adds a special sync folder to your device. It works the same as for Dropbox. Box lets you use selective sync to help you free storage space by only syncing selected content. You can turn syncing for folders off by using the web app, as well.

Box’s sync speeds compare well with other EFSS services on initial uploads, but fall short when uploading existing files because it doesn’t use block-level sync.

Given Box’s lack of block-level sync compared to Dropbox’s efficient implementation of it, it’s easy to pick Dropbox Business as the winner in this category.

Round: Sync Point for Dropbox Business
2

Sharing

Cloud storage isn’t just about uploading your files. It’s about sharing them, as well. Collaborating in an enterprise setting will likely require you to share files often, so doing so should be easy, capable and allow proper content controls. You should be able to share to the big social networks, individuals and groups, as well.

With Dropbox Business, you get a central team folder that your employees can access. You can create subfolders and limit access to them to individuals or groups. Folders are the primary means of sharing content between collaborators, but users can create links pointing to files or folders, too.

You can do that by clicking the “share” button associated with the content. Once you do that, you can set links to expire and protect them with a password. They can also be restricted to team members or made accessible to outsiders, regardless of whether they have a Dropbox account.

Dropbox also gives you the option to restrict users from sharing content outside of your business. You can see a list of your shared files, folders and generated links in the “sharing” tab, as well.

Box doesn’t place restrictions on licensed users so they can share files and folders with other licensed users at will. If you enable the appropriate permission, they can share with people outside of your organization, too.

To share, click the “share” button associated with an object to send an email invite or create a link. Anyone with the link can view and download your content.

Sharing folders and creating content links can be dangerous because it’s hard to keep track who shared what and with whom, but good content control can help you mitigate that.

Box lets you protect links with passwords and assign expiry dates to them. Still, it doesn’t have a separate page that shows what content has been shared.

Both services have capable sharing and content control features. Dropbox Business has a sharing page and Box doesn’t, so Dropbox Business takes the round.

Round: Sharing Point for Dropbox Business
3

Productivity Apps

The more apps you can use to boost your productivity the better. Many services have native solutions, some integrate with third parties and others offer a mix of both. At the forefront are Microsoft Office and Google’s office suite. Most services integrate with one or the other. A few offer both.

Dropbox Business integrates with Microsoft Office and enables you to use Office Online or Office 365, but it doesn’t integrate with Google.

There’s also a native productivity app called Dropbox Paper. It lets you take notes and insert videos, images and other media. If you’re interested in it, read our Dropbox Paper review. If it’s not a good fit, you can find other options on our list of the best note-taking apps.

Aside from its one productivity app, Dropbox Business has third-party integrations that it separates into categories, including workflow, e-signature, productivity, communication and others.

You can improve your workflow by using Zapier, IFTTT and Airtable, for example, or Asana, HelloSign and draw.io can help boost your productivity. To improve communication between employees, you can use Slack, HipChat or Workplace.

Check out the full list on Dropbox Business’s app integrations page.

Box also has a native note-taking app, called Box Notes, but it’s not as sophisticated as some of the best note-taking apps, such as Evernote. It’s still competitive with OneNote and Google Keep, though. It’s useful if you need to discuss content with your colleagues and take notes during meetings. You can also insert pictures and tables into your notes.

Box has a huge selection of third-party apps, too. Most notably, it integrates with Office 365 and Google’s office suite. DocuSign and Adobe Sign are available if you need to sign documents and Asana can help you define and reach your company goals. To help with task management, there’s Trello, AppSheet, Kanbans, AgileScrum Pro and more.

See the full list of apps here.

Both services do well in this category, but Box offers more. It has many native apps besides Notes, works with Microsoft Office and Google’s office suite and has more third-party integrations.

Round: Productivity Apps Point for Box Business
4

Security

The online world can be a scary place because of threats from hackers and other malicious people. That means good security is a must for cloud storage services.

Cloud security relies on protocols and encryptions in transit and at rest to protect your files. They include the TLS protocol to stop man-in-the-middle attacks, at-rest and in-transit encryptions to scramble your files and private encryption to ensure your privacy.

Two-factor authentication will stop hackers who have stolen your password from accessing your account. Even if a provider has it, though, you should make a strong password.

Dropbox Business uses the TLS protocol, secured with AES 128-bit or higher encryption, to protect your data in transit. That goes for files, folders and Dropbox Paper files. On the web side, the service authenticates cookies as secure and enables HTTP Strict Transport Security. That, along with public certificates on its servers, prevents man-in-the-middle attacks.

On servers, the service protects your files with AES 256-bit encryption. Files are stored in multiple data centers and each file is fragmented and encrypted using a strong cipher. Dropbox Paper docs are encrypted at rest using the same level of encryption. To protect your files from ransomware, Dropbox Business employs versioning.

The service is designed to manage file encryption keys for its users. The keys are stored and protected by Dropbox’s security policies and infrastructure. Still, that means that you don’t control your key.

Dropbox Business also leaves your metadata in plain text because it needs to access it for indexing and speeding up the user experience.

If Dropbox’s practices make you uneasy and you want to take more control of your privacy, refer to our 99 tools to help protect your privacy article and our privacy guide.

Dropbox Business has two-factor authentication to protect your account, but you should still make a strong password to maximize your security. Those measures won’t help if someone steals your device, but you can wipe data remotely. Users can log in using single sign-on, which makes it easier to log in to multiple business systems with the same credentials at once.

The service provides a feature that can cut devices off from sync and delete content inside of them.

The servers that store your data are in Dropbox’s data centers. They can withstand breaches and other issues, such as server failure and natural disasters. They are also regularly tested for security vulnerabilities. To ensure your data is safe, Dropbox stores it in at least two geographic regions.

If something unexpected happens, the service has dedicated teams to respond. They are trained to react and determine the severity of the incident, execute containment measures and communicate with customers.

The incident response processes and policies are audited as part of SOC 2 and other security assessments. For a complete list of security features and procedures, consult Dropbox’s security whitepaper.

Box is no slouch with security, either, which you should expect from an EFSS service.

The service uses AES 256-bit to scramble your data at rest and the TLS protocol to protect it during transfer from your device to the data center. The data is still scrambled when it gets to a server. Box also uses key wrapping, which means that it encrypts your key with the same level of encryption.

Like Dropbox Business, Box doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption, but you can set it up by using Boxcryptor, a private encryption add-on. Single sign-on integration is available, with OneLogin and Centrify supported.

Box has two-factor authentication to protect your account and lets you set up custom password requirements for your users. That will ensure that they don’t create weak passwords in the first place.

Device pinning allows you to limit how many devices each user can sync. It also lets you check devices in use, so you get an overview of who has access to your cloud storage. You can unpin a device, but that only removes cloud access going forward and doesn’t delete content from its hard drive.

For more information about Box’s security, read its whitepaper.

Dropbox Business and Box are close in this category. Besides the features they share, Box has custom password requirements and Dropbox Business’s remote wipe removes data from the device on top of severing the sync connection. Considering there’s two-factor authentication, the lack of custom password requirements isn’t a huge drawback, so Dropbox Business wins this round.

Round: Security Point for Dropbox Business
5

Value

A service has good value if you get a lot for your money. The more storage and features you get the better. How many plans a service has is a good indication of whether it can provide good value because it having more plans increases your chances of finding one that fits your needs. If you’re looking for cheap plans, refer to our best deals in cloud storage.

A free plan or trial is a good way to test the service before subscribing, too, so it’s great if a service provides one.

Dropbox Business offers a free 30-day trial for Standard and Advanced plans, but omits it for Enterprise. Plans charge per user and require a minimum of three.

Standard costs $15 per month, or the equivalent of $12.50 per month if you pay for the year, and offers 3TB of shared space. On top of that, you get 120-day versioning and other advanced security measures, including HIPAA compliance, sharing permissions and two-factor authentication.

Besides security features, you get advanced collaboration and productivity tools, such as Dropbox Paper, Microsoft Office 365, smart sync and team folder. Basic administrative tools are also in the package. They consist of the admin console, centralized billing and company-managed groups.

With this plan, API calls to security and productivity partners are unlimited, but API calls to data transport partners are capped at 25,000 per month.

Support consists of priority email and live chat.

The Advanced plan costs $25 per user per month, or $20 with the annual discount, and gives you unlimited storage space. It builds on Standard’s security features with device approvals for admins.

For production, it adds Dropbox Showcase, which works with customized branding, visual previews and informative captions that let you improve the way you present your work. You can also track who opens, downloads or comments on your files. It adds viewer history for your shared files, too.

The plan extends administrative tools with SSO and the ability for admins to log in to their team members’ accounts.

Advanced adds phone support during business hours, too. If you need a customizable solution, you can subscribe to the Enterprise plan, but you’ll have to contact Dropbox to get a price estimate.

Enterprise adds the ability to integrate Dropbox Business with third-party enterprise mobility management providers to the previous security features.

Dropbox Business admin tools are enhanced with domain insight, which shows usage across the whole domain, and network control, which can restrict usage on the company network to only the team account.

It also extends support with 24/7 phone support, though only in English, and advanced training for end-users and admins.

Box has four business plans: Starter, Business, Business Plus and Enterprise. You can use a 14-day free trial to test all but the last one.

Starter costs $5 per user per month and requires a minimum of three users. It caps the number of users at 10 and the storage space at 100GB. The maximum file size is 2GB.

With Starter, you get standard business support, SSL and at-rest encryption, user management, versioning, 25,000 API calls per month and desktop and mobile access. It’s a good fit for smaller teams.

Business is good for larger teams because it requires a minimum of three users and does not put an upper limit on the number of users. It costs $15 per user per month. The maximum file size is increased to 5GB and you’re given access to advanced security features, such as Active Directory, SSO and mobile security controls.

It also integrates with EMM providers, adds data loss prevention, custom branding and the ability to form and manage user groups. The amount of API calls per month is raised to 50,000. Learn more about the plan here.

Business Plus costs $25 per month and adds to the previous plan with advanced admin controls and unlimited external collaborators. Admin controls include full content visibility and management, as well as user activity tracking and admin role delegation. It also lets you use metadata and custom templates. You can dictate your own terms of service, too.

Optional features on the plan include Box Governance, Box KeySafe and Box Zones. Box Governance enhances your management and protection of content in the cloud. Box KeySafe lets you manage your own private encryption keys. Box Zones lets organizations with users in Europe, Asia, Canada or Australia use data centers local to those regions.

It increases the number of API calls allowed per month to 50,000.

If you need an enterprise-level plan, you can contact Box for an estimate on the Enterprise plan. It has HIPAA/HITECH-eligible and FedRAMP regulatory compliance and adds full content visibility and management, unlimited integrations, including DLP and eDiscovery, and workflow automation.

Plus, it improves your security with password policy enforcement, document watermarking and device trust.

It raises the API calls per month to 100,000. You can see all features the plans offer on the pricing page.

Box offers more flexibility with its four plans than Dropbox Business. Even though Starter only provides 100GB of storage, it’s suitable for small teams. Plus, Box Business gives you unlimited storage and isn’t much more expensive than Dropbox’s Standard plan. Box wins this round.

Round: Value Point for Box Business
6

Final Thoughts

This was a tough battle of the boxes as contenders were close in many categories. Dropbox Business is the overall winner because it had three wins to Box’s two. It is great when you need to sync files fast and share with others. Its security is top-notch, too.

Box’s security measures are almost the same and it surpasses Dropbox Business in productivity and third-party integrations as it integrates with both Microsoft Office and Google’s office suite. If you want better prices and more app integrations, choose Box.

Winner: Dropbox Business 

What do you think about this battle? Which service do you prefer? Let us know in the comment below. Thank you for reading.

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9 thoughts on “Dropbox vs Box: Which Will Suit Your Company Best in 2019?”

  1. Nice analysis. While it’s true that Dropbox tends to be more cautious around its security claims, it’s made it really easy to incorporate secure layers. Sookasa is one such encryption solution that works from within the Dropbox folder to facilitate HIPAA- and FERPA-compliant use of the service, without disrupting the user experience that you’ve covered here. Users don’t have to compromise to have an easy-to-use cloud service with best-in-class security.

  2. I switched from Dropbox to Box when Dropbox wanted to include files that were owned by others in my free file size totals. I have since purchased a Box plan for use in our business. We do experience an on-going problem with bandwidth usage by Box when it is Syncing. It seems to be a bit of a hog when it is running. We have not found a way to adjust for this other than to turn off Syncing during times when bandwidth is at a premium.

  3. Thanks for the review. In fact, I have been looking into reviews on Dropbox vs Box for the last three years. The only problem I encountered using Box is the difficulties of syncing through their desktop app (I am using Macbook).

    It has been a difficult decision for me since DropBox is giving 1TB for $9.99 while Box is only giving 100GB. But I think Box does gives much more flexibility and functions as well. More likely to go with Box instead.

  4. I used to love Dropbox. I dropped them immediately however when I heard that Condoleezza Rice had joined their board (You remember her policies on data and warrantless wiretapping? I needn’t mention her help in other, likely war-criminal activity). When faithful Dropbox users pushed against that, Dropbox doubled down. Therefore, whether Box wins or not, Dropbox has lost. I tried Copy and Google Drive, but settled into Box. I don’t find it as quick and seamless as Dropbox was, but it’s a small price to pay.

  5. Magnificent review and comparison.
    I was more impressed by the way you analyze these two cloud storage platforms Dan what every one of them individually can actually help consumer but hot to be honest I’ve been using both and I found both cloud platforms are working for me just to save and separate the type of information or data that I’m going to save or uploads and in this caseI prefer to remain a customer with both platforms and save different type of information in every individual one

  6. One person said that there is no security in Box because anyone who has the link to the folder has access to the files in the folder.
    I replied to him that (1) any link to any folder is known only to the person who shares the link and to the person with whom the link is shared. And (2) I think case is same with any cloud storage providers.
    Do you feel it is possible to have folder level passwords in Box.com or any other providers?

  7. Great article. It confirmed many of the areas that our company sought to clarify during our box vs dropbox vs gdrive bake off. Box came out a solid winner. Thanks for taking the time.

  8. My concern is security. That includes confidentiality, integrity and availability (‘CIA’). How do you check integrity on either of these services? To my cost, I found that although Drop Box was syncing OK, what was on the server and what was on my local machine, were different. I recovered OK, but how does one routinely check that?

  9. If you have people using Macs, Dropbox is the winner by far. Box doesn’t support a lot of Mac files types and our Mac users get endless error messages that files can’t sync. For example, OmniGraffle (like Visio) files can’t be saved on a Box Drive, Adobe Indesign files don’t save properly, and lots of other software has the same errors. Users can only save these files on Box by creating ZIP files and then manually uploading the ZIP files. Not a very productive user in my opinion

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