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Pros and cons of Dropbox Business for enterprise file sharing

Dropbox Business is an alternative for business file sharing that offers more IT control. But, like other file-sharing services, it has drawbacks, too.

Dropbox Business is a cloud-based storage platform that offers a simple and efficient tool for users to sync, share...

and collaborate on their documents across devices. The service also provides administrators with a centralized dashboard for managing accounts, controlling data access and tracking user activity.

Dropbox Business has come a long way since its early days as Dropbox for Teams. What started as a basic file-syncing service has evolved into a full content collaboration platform that provides a more robust and business-focused service.

Dropbox Business features

Dropbox Business offers a variety of features that make it easy for users to sync, share and collaborate on documents. Dropbox saves files to a centralized data center, which users can access from multiple devices (PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets). Dropbox users can update a document on their laptops and have it automatically sync to their PCs or smartphones, as well as view up to 120 days of version history and deletion recovery.

Dropbox Business is similar to the consumer version of Dropbox, using the same client software and encrypting data. Teams using Dropbox Business can share files with other users in team folders, and administrators can add accounts or remove users from a team. Users can also share files and folders with people outside of their organization -- even if they don't have a Dropbox Business account -- password-protect file links and set expiration dates on file access.

Dropbox Business, unlike the consumer version, has an administrative interface for adding and removing users and viewing invoices. Regular Dropbox users can easily upgrade to a Dropbox Business account. When they make the switch, Dropbox preserves all their content and settings, such as shared folders and linked devices. Users can still keep their personal accounts and access both workspaces in one place, while keeping corporate and personal files separate.

Dropbox Business plans and pricing

Dropbox Business offers three plans:

  • Standard costs $12.50/month per user, if paid annually, or $15/month; requires a minimum of three subscriptions; provides up to 2 TB of storage space; includes all basic Dropbox Business functionality; and provides live chat support.
  • Advanced builds on the Standard plan, adding unlimited storage; phone support during business hours and live chat support; more robust administration, event tracking and authentication capabilities. It costs $20/month per user, if paid annually, or $25/month and requires a minimum of three subscriptions.
  • Enterprise includes everything in the Advanced plan but adds 24/7 phone support; administrator and end-user training; and enterprise mobility management (EMM) capabilities. There are also more advanced features for managing accounts, networks and domains. Dropbox does not publish its Enterprise subscription fees.

Dropbox also offers volume discounts and discounts for nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.

Implementing Dropbox Business

Dropbox Business provides an admin console for centrally deploying and managing the organization's Dropbox accounts. From the dashboard, admins can control account access, monitor team activity, set up team folders or view connected devices.

Admins can invite users to join Dropbox; if they are not existing Dropbox members, they will be prompted to sign up. Admins can also suspend or delete user accounts. If they do, they can transfer that license to a different member and transfer files from one account to another.

Admins can also implement single sign-on using an identity provider, such as Active Directory (AD), or implement two-step verification. Dropbox Business also provides audit logs for tracking how data is shared inside and outside the organization.

The admin dashboard also provides tools for securing lost or stolen devices. Admins can unlink a device from a user's account and pause syncing or remote wipe to remove Dropbox files and folders from a device.

Integrating with Dropbox Business

Dropbox goes a long way in supporting third-party integrations. Claiming over 300,000 connected apps, the service provides unlimited API access to security and productivity platform partners.

Dropbox offers integration with Okta's identity management platform, which can help streamline deployment and lifecycle management across the enterprise. With Okta, administrators can push and synchronize user membership from AD groups to Dropbox.

Another example is Dropbox's integration with Office 365, in addition to AD and Azure AD, which lets users access, edit, share and collaborate on Office documents across all device types. Plus, the Dropbox badge allows collaborators to see who else is working with a file and retrieve the latest version.

Dropbox also integrates with VMware's AirWatch EMM platform. Organizations can use Dropbox in conjunction with AirWatch's integrated security features, such as encryption, app tunneling and data loss prevention technologies. Dropbox is also fully integrated with Symantec's cloud security service.

Advantages and disadvantages of Dropbox Business

The Gartner 2017 Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms rates Dropbox as one of the industry leaders. Dropbox Business has a global presence across the U.S., Europe and Asia, with regional accelerators to help ensure performance and reliability wherever users are located.

A big plus for Dropbox Business is its extensive API offerings, which support a variety of languages and technologies and let organizations create custom integrations that extend Dropbox to a wide range of applications and services.

Of course, Dropbox Business isn't perfect. Some users complain of slow tech support or lack of built-in editing, although Dropbox Paper appears to be picking up the slack on that issue.

Cloud-based data storage trends

Storing data in every corporate branch is expensive and hinders performance. Are you up to date on current cloud-based data storage trends? Take this short quiz, and find out.

The bigger issue with Dropbox Business is that it is strictly a cloud service, with no support for on-premises or hybrid implementations. Organizations must rely completely on Dropbox to protect sensitive data and privacy. They have no control over the security model, when patches are applied, how encryption keys are stored, where data and metadata are stored or any other aspects of the infrastructure.

Organizations that consider Dropbox must weigh the security risks, while ensuring that the service can meet compliance regulations specific to the region where they do business. Dropbox stores all metadata in U.S. data centers, which may not be acceptable to organizations in other parts of the world.

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