Finding the best EFSS solution for your business can have an enormous impact on its success. Cloud-based file management can make it easier to mobilize your team and collaborate at the same time, making for a happier, more productive workforce.
While traditional mainstays like Dropbox and Box tend to garner the most attention, Egnyte Connect, the subject of this review, looks poised to start stealing headlines, hearts and minds.
Overall, the service has far more hits than misses, including beautifully designed sync and sharing features, a fantastic library of productivity app integrations and a tight approach to security.
During the ensuing Egnyte Connect review, we’ll break down these features in detail to show you why it’s earned our nod as the best EFSS solution.
- Fast block-level sync
- Secure file sharing
- Affordable pricing
- Office Online/Google Docs integration
- Good third-party app library
- Network drive option
- End-to-end encryption
- No Linux support
The following table will give you a broad overview of some of the critical features of Egnyte Connect. We’ll discuss many of them in more depth throughout the rest of this review.
Overall, the feature set is impressive, with options like block-level sync, custom password requirements and remote device wipes that aren’t usually found with the competition.
Good news for those looking to use Egnyte as a personal plan: Egnyte now offers a Team plan good for one to three users. While still technically aimed at businesses, Egnyte Connect Team works great for home use, too, provided you don’t mind the added bells and whistles over a more stripped down service like pCloud (read our pCloud review).
At $10 a month for 1TB of storage, there are better deals out there, but Egnyte packs so many features that its worth the cost.
In addition, Egnyte Connect still offers its original business plan lineup, plans for which require at least five license subscriptions but provide overall excellent value relative to most of the rest of the EFSS field.
The 5TB offered with the Office plan is more than you’ll get with just about any other service in that price range.
That’s why in addition to ranking as our top service overall, we gave Egnyte Connect Office our nod as the second best overall value among EFSS tools we’ve looked at, behind only OneDrive (check out our OneDrive for Business review for more details). Take note, however, that the storage you get with this plan is shared among users.
In addition to 10TB of space, Egnyte Connect Business also has some extra capabilities like advanced role-based customization for users and the ability to set up sync for on-premises storage.
The Business plan also supports hybrid cloud storage in case you want to want to store some content in the cloud and some on a local server. However, for this review, we’ll be sticking to the platform’s cloud capabilities.
You can upload and access content with Egnyte using a desktop client, browser tool and mobile apps. Desktop clients are available for both Windows and Mac but not Linux. Egnyte leadership, like Box leadership, has stated that the demand for Linux isn’t high enough to support a client. If you need the best cloud storage service for Linux, we suggest Dropbox.
Mobile apps are available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
Egnyte creates a sync folder in your file system when you install the desktop client. The sync folder model, popularized by Dropbox, works by storing content both on your hard drive and in the cloud. We’ll talk more about Egnyte’s sync capabilities in a bit.
Egnyte Connect distinguishes itself from most EFSS platforms by offering another desktop client option called Egnyte Drive. Egnyte Drive is basically a network drive; it lets you access cloud content from your file system but doesn’t actually store content on your hard drive. It shows up as a separate drive on your computer.
This feature provides a bit more security, by decreasing the likelihood of someone accessing valuable content on a stolen computer. To further protect privacy, you can also route data through a proxy server, with Egnyte Drive.
Any content stored in the Egnyte cloud can also be accessed through a web browser. The browser means you don’t have to go through a setup process to access files on a computer that’s not yours and is where you’ll go to manage your account settings and users.
The browser experience is excellent, standing alongside Dropbox in terms of ease of use combined with capabilities.
The same can be said of the mobile experience, which is built around a sleek and responsive application interface.
From the mobile app, you can open and edit any content you have stored in the Egnyte cloud. In most cases, you’ll need a secondary app installed on your phone (i.e., Word, Docs, Notes), too, but that’s standard practice by now.
File previews don’t require third-party tools, however, thanks to Egnyte’s .pdf-preview capabilities. That means you can still view Office documents on your phone without having to pay for Office 365.
One of the biggest advantages to having Egnyte on your phone is being able to upload phone content directly to your cloud account. This saves space on your phone’s hard drive and ensures your valuable photos, videos and audio recordings don’t get lost.
You can easily add and manage users from the Egnyte settings page by clicking on the “user types & roles” tab. There, you’ll find two tabs to help accomplish those tasks: “configuration” and “users & groups.”
There are three types of user you can setup: administrators, power users and standard users. Admins have all the basic control capabilities needed to manage the cloud storage space, including adding new users.
Power users are licensed users and, if configured to do so, can download the sync client, share folders and files, view users and groups and invite standard users. They can also keep a private folder for their personal files. Standard users can only access content through the web browser.
Egnyte has more advanced role customization but to access it you’ll need to upgrade to a Business plan. If role customization is important to you, but you don’t need an EFSS solution with at least 25 users, Citrix ShareFile and Box might be better bets.
From the “groups tab,” you can create and add users to groups, which makes adding bulk user access to folders easier. Egnyte also comes equipped with advanced reporting features that let you monitor storage, users, connected devices and link shares, among other things.
Folder and file sharing features are standard for EFSS tools, but some integrated these features better than others. We found that to be the case with Egnyte, and ranked it as our top EFSS tool for file sharing because of these features.
You can manage folder sharing by clicking on the “share” button associated with it. From there, you can invite both individual users or entire groups and give them one of four different types of access:
- Owner: full plus permissions management
- Full: download/edit/upload/delete
- Editor: download/edit/upload
- Viewer: preview/download
With both folders and files, you can also invite others to view and download by generating a link. This link can be copied and pasted somewhere like Slack or Facebook, or you can email it to recipients.
When generating a link, you can manage settings to better secure your content. Options include the ability to password protect links, set link expiry dates, restrict downloads and notify you whenever the link is used.
We also applaud the fact that the Egnyte developers included a report to audit link creation. Too many cloud storage tools overlook such reports, which can lead to loosing sight of shared content and put your intellectual property and confidential reports in jeopardy.
Earlier, we mentioned that downloading the Egnyte client adds a sync folder on your desktop that looks like an ordinary folder, but is connected to the cloud. Here’s what that folder looks like:
Drag and drop content into the folder to send it to the cloud. Note that by default any content placed in this folder gets stored both on your hard drive and in the cloud. If you find yourself running short on hard drive space, you can make use of Egnyte ’s selective sync feature, which lets you switch off hard-drive storage or any folder or file.
We found initial sync uploads with Egnyte took a little longer than we’re used too. A 250MB test folder, in fact, took nearly nine minutes to upload. Corresponding upload tests with other services often take half as long.
However, generally, sync speeds are more of a factor when collaborating on already stored files, not uploading new ones. In that regard, Egnyte outperforms the entire EFSS field with the exception of Dropbox.
The reason for that is because, like Dropbox, Egnyte uses block-level transfers in its sync algorithms, which means only the parts of files that changed, rather than the entire file, get synced.
Block-level sync can reduce file upload time from several minutes to handful of seconds, resulting in near real-time collaborations. In addition to sync, as we mentioned earlier, you can also download and access content using Egnyte Drive. This results in more secure file access but can be a bit slower.
To aid productivity, Egnyte gives users nice task-management capabilities to oversee collaborations. Other EFSS tools, including Box and Dropbox (and Egnyte), integrate with task management apps like Trello, but very few offer native capabilities. That should appeal to business owners looking to save on subscription costs for third-party tools.
Tasks can be created and assigned by right-clicking on a file and selecting tasks. You can set a task description, assignee and due date. Tasks that you’ve assigned and been assigned can be audited from the “my tasks” tab.
In addition to its built-in task-management feature, Egnyte has a range of integrations available to drive work productivity. In a space where there’s quite a bit of parity, often the biggest separator between two EFSS tools are its integration options, and Egnyte stands as one of the best.
Two such options of note are Microsoft Office and Google Drive. Very few EFSS tools integrate with both Microsoft and Google Drive, with Box being one of the few. Office options include Microsoft’s free version of its productivity suite, Office Online. If you prefer Office 365 for its desktop apps, there’s an integration for that, too.
Egnyte has many other apps you can pick from, too, many of which are free. You can search options from an application library by name or category. Categories include productivity, collaboration, business automation and project management. There are also handful of security integrations we’ll touch on the next section.
Strong cloud security is absolutely necessary for an era where online crime like data breaches and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks are becoming more sophisticated and commonplace. Key to protecting your content from such activity are good data center security and both in-transit and at-rest encryption.
The Egnyte data centers are also secured against physical invasions with several common safeguards like guard patrols, 24-hour surveillance and biometric access controls.
Your content remains secure while in-transit between devices and the Egnyte cloud servers thanks to TLS (transport layer security), with HTTPS and FTPS helping further protect communications. Files are also scrambled using the AES-256 encryption protocol before being uploaded or synced.
Upon arrival at the data center, most EFSS services decrypt your content to pull file metadata before re-encrypting the file content. Egnyte doesn’t, making it an end-to-end encryption solution. Note that the service does keep a record of your password, however, so it doesn’t qualify as a zero-knowledge platform.
However, the good news is that Engyte integrates with Boxcryptor, so you can encrypt files before uploading them if that’s a concern. If you do use Boxcryptor, just be aware that doing so will keep Egnyte ’s block-level transfer algorithms from working because those algorithms require the ability access and read your files.
Even with good encryption, weak passwords can put your content at risk because, unlike 256-bit encryption keys, weak passwords can be cracked in a reasonable amount of time.
Egnyte protects you from that danger by giving you the ability to set minimum strength requirements and length for passwords, as well as require users to reset their passwords every so often. You can also prevent users from resetting to previously used passwords and suspend user accounts after several failed login attempts.
Egnyte also lets you set up two-factor authentication. With this feature turned on, users will have to enter a security code in addition to their normal credentials when logging in from an unfamiliar device. That way, if their password is compromised, whoever has that password still won’t be able to log in.
If you upgrade to Egnyte Connect Business, you can also integrate Egnyte with a single-sign-on (SSO) service to better manage user passwords and let them login into multiple business platforms with the same credentials. Options include OneLogin, Bitium, Okta and Ping Identity.
Last but not least, Egnyte lets you cut off user devices from sync. That way, if a device is lost or stolen, you can make sure whoever has that device can’t access your cloud content.
Despite strong data center security, if you’re not entirely comfortable storing your most critical business information in the cloud, Egnyte lets you build out a hybrid cloud solution.
Hybrid cloud storage services save data in the cloud and on personal servers, or both. By electing to keep some content on personal servers, you can be certain that you have the security measures in place that make the most sense to you.
Egnyte offers 24×7 support, in one way or another, for all customers. However, the level of support you get depends on your plan (Office, Business or Enterprise). You’ll also have to pay extra for the best available support.
|Standard:||Office, Business||Online ticketing, knowledge center, forum
|Premium:||Business, Enterprise (optional upgrade)||Online ticketing, knowledge center, forum, telephone support, deployment assistance
|Platinum:||Enterprise (option to upgrade)||Priority ticketing and telephone support, knowledge center, forum, deployment assistant, access to success manager
On our trial account, we filed a few test tickets with Egnyte to test turnaround time. Responses were received quickly, usually within two hours.
The Egnyte knowledge center, like pretty much everything else Egnyte does, is put together nicely and easy to use. We always like to see forums included as a support option, too, since they’re a good way to bounce ideas off of other users.
Our only real disappointment with Egnyte’s support network is the lack of an online chat feature. However, most other cloud storage services don’t offer chat support either, including Dropbox.
Egnyte Connect doesn’t just give you sync and share capabilities, it gives you well-developed sync and share capabilities. Sync feature attributes like block-level file transfers and selective sync place help it keep pace with the generally accepted king of sync, Dropbox.
Meanwhile, Egnyte surpasses most tools when it comes to folder and file sharing, too, thanks to the ability to control (password protection, expiry dates) and monitor (reporting tools) your content links.
We also love the Egnyte approach to security. Custom password requirements, two-factor authentication, device pinning and SSO integration should all be commonplace for EFSS platforms. Egnyte includes all of those features and integrates with Boxcryptor, too.
Also impressive is Egnyte’s range of third-party apps, which include SMB favorites like Office Online, Google Drive, Slack, DocuSign and Trello. To top it all off, Egnyte’s is better priced than most EFSS tools, with 5TB of cloud storage space per user for just eight dollars a month.
The end result is that Egnyte is the surprise winner of our rankings for top EFSS tool. Of course, we’re always willing to entertain a difference of opinion. Let us know what you think about Egnyte in the comments below. Thank you for reading.