Box vs. Dropbox – They Are Not The Same Thing


The chances are that if you’re in the market for a cloud storage site you’ve done a little bit of research and have come across all of the familiar names such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox and Box (previously known as Box.net). But which is best for you? Well, that all depends on your business or personal needs. Today we’ll take a look at two of those most widely used programs, Box and Dropbox and discuss the positives and negatives to help you make an informed decision. So let’s get started…

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The Tale of Two Boxes

On the surface of it, the two programs are remarkably similar. Both are cloud storage systems with their own dedicated online backup services so you can retrieve your files quickly when the need arises. You can use both on your laptop or desktop as well as on the go using your mobile phone or tablet, making sure that your files are just a click away from retrieval. Indeed, some serious work has gone into making the programs accessible by just about every platform available. However, Box does not have the capabilities to support Linux operating systems. A workaround hack is in place for the time being, while Box goes back to the drawing board to make this a possibility. Despite the similarities between the two programs, their beginnings couldn’t have been more different.

Box was released in 2005 and was funded by venture capital firms and focused originally solely on businesses, choosing to focus on collaboration between enterprises and offering add-ons that would be useful to those in business such as email notifications as new file versions are uploaded into the folders, delegation software, and versioning. Both Dropbox and Box allow Online Document Editing, which makes creating new versions and sending them to others a breeze.

Dropbox formed three years later than Box, and originally targeted the consumer market, so the focus was on storage with little in the way of additional support. This has however been rectified in more recent years. Dropbox added their Dropbox for Business option in 2013 which has increased storage facilities and customizable services. Dropbox has now also addressed the add-on issue, with their COO stating that there are currently over 300,000 applications integrated with Dropbox, including Microsoft Office 365 and offering developers the chance to modify the API to allow them to do all sorts of clever things like sync IM chat logs, manage BitTorrent files and host websites.

Speaking of storage, it’s best we give you the lowdown on the differences between the two storage systems. Both companies offer free storage to their basic users with Dropbox offering 2 GB free and Box offering those on the free version 10 GB of storage. Both companies offer the chance to increase the amount of free storage available through referral schemes, though. Dropbox’s referral scheme offers users an additional 500 MB of storage space per new user they introduce to Dropbox. This is up to a maximum of 10 GB extra space.

Users also have the option of paying for either a Pro Dropbox account, which offers 1 TB of storage and removes wipe access for a monthly fee of $9.99. They also offer Dropbox for Business, which charges from $15 per user with no storage limits and unlimited file recovery.

Box has similar costings, with the potential to earn up to 16GB free if you introduce your friends and colleagues to Box. The file size limit of the free service is 250 MB, expanding up to 5 GB with referrals. The business accounts for Box are broken down into four plans, the starter plan, the business plan, the enterprise plan and the elite plan. The starter plan is for between three and ten users a month and costs $6 monthly with 100 GB storage. The business plan is $17 a month, unlimited storage and a file history of 100 versions. Elite plan is the same as the enterprise, but you can customize the Box API. Price varies.

By 2011, Dropbox had become the 5th most valuable startup behind giants such as Facebook and Twitter, Zynga and Groupon. Worldwide it has over 500 million users, which makes it the much larger of the two. Box, however, has made a great success by gaining angel investment from none other than Mark Cuban. With someone like him behind them, it’s clear that they are only going to continue to grow. Not to be outdone, though, Dropbox has celebrity investors The Edge and Bono from rock band U2 backing them.

One of the big bonuses of Box, as well as excellent storage plans, is their security, which is actually higher than Dropbox, making it a good choice if you have sensitive documentation you need to keep secure. Dropbox has ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 compliance, whereas Box has HIPAA certification and ISO 270001.

Weighing up all the pros and cons of the software is not an easy task, but we hope that we have given you a good grounding, to begin with. As with all business software, we recommend that you do thorough research into the capabilities of each before making a decision on which is right for you.