With over 200 million users, Dropbox has quickly become a popular tool for data storage and file sharing. While it is easy-to-use and makes data storage available anywhere, anytime, it poses some significant risks when used in a business setting.
For many non-tech savvy people, Dropbox’s user friendly features make it accessible and convenient. You simply sign up, download the software and drag and drop the appropriate files into a folder on your device. Thereafter, you can access any of those files on linked devices (whether it is a computer, a tablet or phone).
Uploading and downloading are fast as long as you have a reliable connection and Dropbox provides a free account option which allows you to use up to 2 GB of storage space.
Dropbox has been designed as a file sharing and sync tool. Files that you save on your device that are monitored by Dropbox will be copied onto other devices where Dropbox is also installed. Once you make changes to a file that is connected to Dropbox that change will be implemented across all your other devices.
You can store many types of files on Dropbox and the service will automatically and quickly sync your files across all your devices.
File sharing is the public or private sharing of computer data or space with other users. It may be a convenient way to collaborate on projects with external stakeholders given that the appropriate security measures are taken.
Whereas data backup consists of implementing a system whereby your data is copied and stored so that you can access it in the event of data loss on your device.
Despite some of the beneficial features of Dropbox, it also comes with some significant drawbacks which we want you to know about.
If you are using Dropbox for business purposes, you may be placing your intellectual property at risk. Due to its’ ease of use, it also means that just about anyone can access your business’s private information. An employee could use your Dropbox account to share confidential information to a competitor or they could easily remove a file with little or no control.
The problem is that Dropbox will not know whether your alterations are intentional or accidental. It simply syncs your devices.
The misconception that many people have is that they think of Dropbox as a business grade cloud backup solution which it is not. This is because once you delete a file on your laptop, once it syncs with Dropbox, your file will no longer be updated on Dropbox.
Dropbox only keeps deleted items for 30 days, so if you try to recover it after that timeframe, it will be unavailable for recovery. To access any files with a longer history you will need to pay an additional service fee.
Dropbox was designed with a specific purpose, to be a file syncing solution. It was never designed to backup your entire device or be able to restore all your files from the ground up in the event of a disaster. That’s why Dropbox has restrictions on the number of files and size of files that can be synced to it. So it’s naturally not particularly flexible for all your business needs.
You might start off with a free account, but soon you’ll realise that the free service just doesn’t offer all the features you require. If you work with larger amounts of data you’ll easily end up requiring the Business account at $17 per user per month (with a minimum 5 users). So simply choosing Dropbox because it’s ‘free’ isn’t a smart idea. It’s about choosing the solution that best serves your needs while being affordable.
Problem Scenario 1: You accidentally delete your budget spreadsheet from your device. It then deletes the excel sheet from your laptop and your phone as well as your online Dropbox account.
Problem Scenario 2: A file on your phone becomes corrupted somehow. That corruption then gets imitated across all other devices using Dropbox. Oh Oh! You’re in trouble, because now all you have left are the corrupted files.
Our IT Support Specialist, Russ Merriman, has commented “Whilst Dropbox can be a useful option for sharing data online with external parties, it is not a viable backup solution.”
At Correct Solutions, we aim to inform you about various data storage options and assist you to make a decision on which option is best suited to your needs. Dropbox can certainly be useful on a personal level, however it is not designed to encompass most business requirements. In contrast, a solution designed from the beginning as a backup service will not have these limitations.
In our next post, we’ll talk about another file syncing tool Soonr which offers some features that are more appropriate for business grade users. Stay tuned!