[IMGCAP(1)]As the number of available cloud storage offerings continues to expand, Box and Dropbox consistently rank among the most popular, yet which is best for your accounting firm?

To help firms and independent CPAs choose which solution will work best for their business, Software Advice recently put together a comparison of Box and Dropbox, outlining the features and functionality of each product. Below are some key factors to consider when making that decision.

Which Works for Your Wallet?

When evaluating each solution, it’s important to keep in mind how the company has positioned itself in the cloud storage market. Box has vied to make its product an enterprise solution from day one, while Dropbox has focused on making its cloud storage accessible to everyone. This difference in market positioning is reflected in their pricing and storage options. Here is a quick breakdown:

Box Storage and Pricing -- For individual users, Box offers a free Personal plan that starts at five GB of storage space, and allows you to upgrade to 50 GB when you download certain mobile apps. Box’s Business plan – for small to medium companies – supports three to 500 users and offers up to 1000 GB of storage space, priced at $15 per user per month. The Enterprise plan, for large businesses, can support unlimited users and offers unlimited storage; pricing varies based on usage.

Dropbox Storage and Pricing -- Dropbox offers a free personal plan that starts at two GB, with the ability to scale by 500 MB for each person you refer to Dropbox (up to 18 GB total). Dropbox’s Pro plans include a 100, 200 or 500 GB option, ranging from $9.99 - $49.99 per month. Dropbox for Business features unlimited storage space for $125 per user per year.

What Features and Functionality Do You Need?

Each company’s market position also has an impact on the features and functionality of its product. For instance, because Box is built for business, they’ve baked enterprise-class security into their solution with features such as secure sockets layer (SSL), single sign-on (SSO) and data-loss prevention. The system was also built to integrate with enterprise applications such as Salesforce and Google Apps. These enterprise-level features can be attractive to companies with robust cloud storage and security requirements.

Dropbox, on the other hand, is designed for the everyday user – so you’ll find more consumer-oriented functionality, such as easy multimedia file-sharing and HTML5 streaming. But that doesn’t mean Dropbox isn’t a good fit for many small to medium-sized businesses. Features such as easy document sharing and a simple user interface (UI) can mean a slightly better experience for these users, since Dropbox avoids the complexity that often accompanies enterprise application requirements.

How Do They Stack Up on Key Features?

Beyond the differences in enterprise-class features, there are some important ways that Box and Dropbox differ from one another. Here’s how they stack up on some key features:

  • Document sharing: Box provides more robust user permissions that can be useful for companies wanting to enforce a strict file taxonomy (that is, keep users from renaming files and folders) and to manage who can access corporate documents.
  • Collaboration: If your company needs robust features for document collaboration in addition to cloud storage, Dropbox leaves something to be desired; you can’t create, edit or simultaneously collaborate on shared documents in-program.
  • Multimedia file sharing: Box offers limited capabilities when it comes to photo and video sharing. If this is an important feature, Dropbox might be the better solution for you.
  • Device authorization: Box provides robust administrative controls over users’ devices and the ability to manage all devices and active sessions remotely. However, Dropbox only allows devices – not active sessions – to be managed remotely, and offers limited administrative controls over users’ devices.
  • Support and Help: Each solution has room for improvement in the support and help department. Box offers easy-to-access email support and thorough replies, but it is hard to find answers to many questions using their web self-service help. Dropbox, on the other hand, has difficult-to-access email support, but provides quick responses once submitted. And its web self-service help provides answers to most questions.

How Secure Are These Solutions?

Of course, you can’t discuss cloud storage options without taking a closer look at security. For many accounting firms, document security is a particularly important topic, given that you’re working with confidential client information. On the security front, Box performed much better than Dropbox for a number of reasons.

Box’s data centers are SSAE 16 Type II (SOC 2) compliant, meaning the security of their servers meets the standard for data centers that manage sensitive information. Box also offers a variety of security features that Dropbox does not provide, such as integration with data-loss prevention systems, email validation when logging in from a new IP address and password-protected documents or folders. All of these can prove to be very important for an accounting firm looking to prevent security breaches that compromise their clients’ confidential financials.

Box easily provides more security features and options with their product. However, some accounting firms may find they don’t need all of these features, and that their internal IT security can manage their needs just fine with Dropbox. At a security level, the choice really comes down to how much sensitive data you need to store in the cloud.

If you are an accounting firm looking to implement one of these two popular cloud storage solutions, take into consideration your budget, operational needs, required storage space, essential features and security. Once these are clearly defined, you can decide which is best for your firm.

Do you use either of these solutions for your accounting firm? Let us know what you like or dislike about each in the comments below.

Holly Regan is a Managing Editor at Software Advice, where she blogs on a variety of topics related to small business and software products. Her writing has appeared online in The New York Times and The Huffington Post.



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