Dropbox and Box (formerly Box.net) are two of the largest and most full-featured cloud storage and online backup services (others being Microsoft's SkyDrive and Google Drive). While Box has historically focused on businesses as their customer base, Dropbox grew with a consumer focus but launched Dropbox for Teams in 2011 and rebranded it to Dropbox for Business in April 2013. Dropbox is a much larger company with higher annual revenue and market share but dollar-for-dollar, Box offers more storage. Both services allow access via the web (browser-based), software for Linux, Mac and Windows PCs, and mobile apps for iOS and Android.
|Introduction (from Wikipedia)||Box Inc. (formerly Box.net) is an online file sharing and Cloud content management service for enterprise companies. The company has adopted a freemium business model, and provides 5 GB of free storage for personal accounts.||Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software.|
|Initial release||2005||September 2008|
|Operating systems supported||Windows, Mac, Linux (via website), Mobile (Android, iOS, Blackberry, Kindle Fire)||Desktop: Windows, Mac, Linux - Mobile: Android, iOS, Blackberry, Kindle Fire)|
|Online document editing available.||Yes||No|
|Storage space||Personal: 5 GB; Business: 1000 GB; Enterprise: Unlimited||Personal: 2 GB to 16 GB - Pro: Starts at 100 GB - Business: Starts at 1 TB|
|Pricing||Personal: 10 GB Free, 100 GB for $10/month; Business: $5 per user per month for 1-10 users and 100GB storage; $15 per user per month for 3-500 users and 1TB storage; Enterprise: Customized||100GB for $9.99/month or $99/year 200GB for $19.99/month or $199/year 500GB for $49.99/month or $499/year Pro: starts at $10 per month for 100 GB storage; Small Business: $795/yr for 5 users to $31,420 for 250 users. Large businesses: Customized|
|Focus||B2B (selling to business customers), enterprise collaboration and workflows||Historically B2C (selling to consumers), online backups for important files, now expanding into B2B|
Contents: Box vs Dropbox
edit Plans and Pricing
Both Dropbox and Box offer different plans for personal and business use, and segment business use into small clients (classified based on the number of users) and large, enterprise customers. Both services also offer a free tier.
edit Dropbox plans and pricing
Dropbox offers free accounts with storage up to 2GB, with ways to increase storage up to 16GB free. Pro accounts start at $10 per month (or $100 yearly) for 100GB. Larger accounts are proportional — $20 per month or $200 yearly for 200 GB and $50 per month or $500 yearly for 500 GB. Dropbox for Business pricing starts at $795 per year for a team of 5 users all the way up to $31,420 for 250 users. Companies with more than 250 users need to contact Dropbox directly for a quote. There are no storage limits for business accounts on Dropbox.
edit Box plans and pricing
Box offers personal users a free account with 10 GB of space and a file size limit of 250 MB. Their $10 per month personal plan offers 100 GB storage and a file size limit of 5 GB — substantially more compared with Dropbox. Business accounts on Box are as follows:
- A starter plan for 1-10 users at $5 per user per month. This plan offers 100 GB of storage and a file size limit of 2 GB.
- A business plan for 3 or more users at $15 per user per month for a storage of 1,000 GB (combined for all users under the plan).
It should be noted that other options and customizations to the plans may be available if you talk to their sales rep or customer service. Prices and storage tends to be negotiable. The file size limit on business and enterprise plans is 5 GB.
edit Viral growth for Dropbox
Dropbox grew virally by offering an incentive to its users where they could increase the free storage available to their account by referring their friends to the service. For every new user that they refer, users with free accounts get 500 MB bonus space up to 16 GB, and pro account users get 1 GB per referral up to 32 GB bonus storage space for free.
edit Apps and syncing
One of the advantages of Dropbox is the availability of software to sync your files. Dropbox software is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. For all these platforms, the software creates a special folder on your computer, which syncs with Dropbox in the cloud. Anything placed in the Dropbox folder automatically gets uploaded to Dropbox servers and is available on other devices using that account.
Box provides such software only for Mac and Windows (although a hack for Linux is available). Box sync software was only available for business accounts but is now available for personal accounts as well. However, Box does not sync files by default. Users must log into Box on the web and specify which folders they want to sync. Box Sync is not intended as a tool for uploading folders; instead, log into Box on the web and use the Upload Folders feature. Box must sync with the My Box Files folder; if you rename this folder, Box will re-create it and duplicate the synced files. Some users have complained that Box Sync does not work very well.
edit APIs and integration with other apps
Both Box and Dropbox provide APIs that let other app developers integrate their apps with their cloud storage service behind the scenes. This includes mobile apps, desktop apps as well as web services.
Several apps that integrate with Dropbox are consumer focused. They allow users to store files in their Dropbox account. With Box, the focus of apps is squarely on the business side — Box integrates with business applications such as Salesforce, Outlook and Google Apps. Their growing list of integration partners is an advantage for Box for business users.
edit Other features
Other features are where the distinction between Box and Dropbox and their primary focus become more apparent. With Box, the focus is on enterprise collaboration. So Box offers features like email notifications when new files (or new versions) are uploaded, comments on files, expiration dates on shared files and delegation (users can create sub-accounts and control their privileges). Versioning is another capability that is more well-developed with Box than it is for Dropbox. The Box service has built a platform that allows other business app developers to write apps (that customers can then "install") that help customers in their workflow while leveraging Box at the backend to store files, manage user identities and messaging.
edit Document viewing and annotation
With its acquisition of Crocodoc, Box now offers users the ability to preview documents (Word, PDF etc.) online with remarkable accuracy. Crocodoc also lets users annotate these documents from their browser without the need to install any additional software. Editing the source files still requires users to download the file to their computer and open it via an appropriate editing program. But annotation can suffice for a large number of enterprise collaboration needs.
edit Document creation
In September 2013 Box announced Box Notes, which allows Box customers to create simple, shared documents. While the service was primitive at launch, Box indicated their ambition to enable content creation through their service, in addition to collaboration and management of content.
edit Version history and recovering deleted files
Dropbox's feature for retaining version history and deleted files is called Packrat. It costs $39 per user per year for Pro accounts and is included free for Business accounts. Deleted files and old versions retained in Packrat do not count towards storage. Without the Packrat feature, Dropbox retains all deleted and earlier versions of files for 30 days.
Box offers free version history retention for Business and Enterprise users.
edit Security Features
Box has a better toolset for enterprises to manage security and access controls for users. While both Box and Dropbox support SSO or single sign-on integration with a company's main identity system (such as ActiveDirectory), Box offers additional fine-grained control features such as:
- Admins can now dictate whether individual users and groups may share folders and files with external users. Previously, admins were only able to enable or disable sharing for their entire company.
- Admins can block or enable a user's specific devices from accessing the service.
- Extra log-in security -- if Box notices a user logging in from an unrecognized IP address or browser on an unknown device, it will ask them to validate via email.
- Integration with Samsung Knox, a new mobile device management platform being planned by Samsung.
- Integration with two data loss prevention systems, CipherCloud and Code Green. Companies with highly regulated documents use DLP systems to scan documents for particular types of information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers, then apply policies that restrict sharing and usage.
- Analytics provided with partner GoodData that allow companies to see how employees are using Box -- for instance, how many documents they're uploading.
In August 2014, Dropbox announced new security features for Dropbox Pro (their paid service) including:
- Password-protection for links to shared files and folders.
- Ability to set expiry dates for shared links.
- Separation of permissions into edit and view-only for shared folders.
- Remote wipe to erase Dropbox data from lost or stolen devices.
Data uploaded by the Dropbox client software is also encrypted before it is uploaded to Dropbox servers. Dropbox stores files on Amazon's S3 service. The company encrypts files with 256-bit AES before transmitting them to Amazon's servers via an SSL connection. However, Dropbox employees can decrypt these files, as can the Dropbox system.
Box only stores encrypted files for enterprise users. Box also uses 256-bit AES encryption and, just like Dropbox, Box employees and systems can decrypt stored files.
If you are using either of these services to store confidential or sensitive information, it is advisable to encrypt your files yourself using software such as TrueCrypt before storing them online. Box or Dropbox will then encrypt your encrypted files but will not be able to decrypt them to get at the actual data.
edit For enterprise customers
Dropbox originated as a consumer-oriented service but is now trying to penetrate the lucrative enterprise market. However, Box's offerings to business customers are more mature. From a comment on a Hacker News thread in January 2014:
As a customer of Dropbox for Business, I can confidently say they have a long, difficult road ahead of them here. The way they've defined their concepts seems hostile to the very things businesses need in a product. Even being a company that spends 50k a year gets you next to nothing wrt feature requests or support outside of what would be given to a free user, aside from speed of reply. If you want any level of control over data and sharing, you're sent over to "sookasa", a shambles of a business, or you can look at non-recommended solutions like boxcryptor (an incredible product that unfortunately carries it's own administrative overhead). If anyone from Dropbox is reading this, the things that make my life the hardest are:
- removing shared folders from a user's account. (Impossible unless your IT department controls every shared folder in your organization. Difficult & time consuming if they do)
- Deleting a corporate account from all devices, removing folders. (Impossible)
- Offering any sort of encryption (need to use 3rd party, unreliable)
- Managing/reverting changes. Terribly ugly, difficult, and time consuming process. It's bafflingly inefficient, and in an organization of any size clueless or new hires are going to create these problems on a weekly basis.
- Management and reporting APIs don't exist.
Box offers well-designed training modules for new users getting started with their service. This is useful, especially for business users working with the collaboration, file sharing and workflow applications within the Box ecosystem.
edit API and Developer Community
The OpenBox API provides support to create applications and web sites that integrate with Box. There are over 60 services built over this to connect content from Box with online applications and services. It is a collection of Web services, which means that you can create Box applications using any modern programming language and operating system on any computer connected to the internet. Box applications can provide the following functions:
- File Management – Syncing files, editing files, editing pictures within Box, sending Box files as Gmail attachments, etc.
- Sharing – Files can be shared via email as attachments, or selectively shared using links.
- Collaboration – Password-controlled access is available for individual files and folders so that users can share files for editing with others.
Dropbox provides the following APIs:
- Sync API – It allows your app to do online and offline syncing, including caching, retrying and file change notifications.
- Core API – It allows you to build your own app with Dropbox features in it like sharing, editing, reading, searching, etc.
- Box - official website
- Dropbox - official website
- Dropbox - Wikipedia
- Box - Wikipedia
- Dropbox for Business launches
- Dropbox pricing (dropbox.com)
- Box and Dropbox on the Blackberry 10 smartphone (YouTube video)
- Dropbox chases corporate customers and revenue - Reuters
- Box strikes back against Dropbox with more security controls
- Developing on the Box platform
- Dropbox API for developers
- Dropbox raises $250 million at a $10 billion valuation - Wall Street Journal (January 17, 2014)