As promised, I spent some time playing around with the Box and Dropbox cloud storage apps to see if one is better than the other. What prompted me to do this is that Box was/is giving away 50GB of storage free for life to new users.
I’ve been a Dropbox user for a while but getting 25x more space for free seemed like it was worth at signing up for and then figuring out if it was a better product later. Standard operation for any of these cloud storage systems (Box, Dropbox, Google Drive) is to have an app for tablets, mobile, and desktop in addition to the basic web-based access you get by going directly to any one of those services’ respective websites.
What is Cloud Storage?
Before jumping into the comparison, let’s establish some basics about cloud storage for those who aren’t familiar with it. To put it simply, cloud storage is a system of offsite servers where you can maintain all of your data without using any of the precious space on your hard drive. So why all the talk about the cloud? You can access this information from anywhere with an internet connection. You never have to remember to bring that flash drive or portable hard drive again. If you’ve ever used Microsoft SharePoint before, these cloud storage options work in a similar fashion.
Now that we took care of that, we can move on with the point of this post, comparing two cloud storage options, which will cover three areas:
- Home Screen/Hierarchy
- Opening/Editing Files
Note that all descriptions and screenshots that follow are based on use of the iPad/tablet versions. Experience may vary depending on the platform you use to access either service.
When logging into Box or Dropbox, the home screens look almost identical, so I’ll only screenshot one of them below. You get a nice split screen view with all of your files and folders on the left with the contents of the highlighted file or folder appearing on the right. Both services have the ability to create folders and move files around within the application. You’ll also find that you can flag files as favorites to make finding things a bit easier to find if you have lots of files stored in the cloud. Advantage: Push
|Box Home Screen|
Dropbox and Box each have the ability to allow you to open files in different programs for different viewing and editing purposes. The strange thing here is that Dropbox treats photos differently than other files as you’ll see below. By that I mean, you don’t have as many options available to you if you want to save a copy of the file in a different application. This could be for photo editing, marking up PDF documents or transferring to a different cloud service. There’s no reason the same type of functions shouldn’t be available for all file types. Advantage: Box
|Box Photo Options|
|Dropbox Photo Options|
|Dropbox PDF/ebook options|
- Too tedious to attach some absurd number of files
- Attachments you want to send exceed your email limits
|Box Sharing Options|
|Dropbox Sharing Options|
Which One Is Better?
At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you but I’ll tell you how I approach this decision. With the proliferation of options available, my first priority is using the one that gives me the best chance at keeping everything in one place. All of the apps I tested that integrated with Dropbox functioned just as well with Box. Within each app, the features were comparable enough that the choice came down to space, so I’m going with Box.
Which one are you using? Is space alone enough to make you switch?
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