With more and more business being done online, paper records and filing cabinets are rapidly being pushed out in favour of digital storage solutions. Traditionally, these digital filing cabinets were in the form of on-premise servers, but now these are increasingly being replaced by cloud storage solutions, allowing companies to upload key data to a central storage facility over the internet.
There are many advantages to cloud document storage over on-premise alternatives. For instance, it’s easy for workers to collaborate on documents, with everyone involved on a project able to instantly view the latest changes with no fear of different versions flying around. The anywhere, anytime access makes it simpler for mobile workers, while growing businesses will find it easy to add users and expand their storage capacity to cope with their evolving demands.
But which of the many cloud storage options is right for you? To help you decide, we’ve looked at some of the key features of five of the most popular cloud storage choices for businesses. We’ve focused on the following features:
- Storage capacity
- Maximum file size
- Version history
- Integration with your existing systems
- Availability of mobile apps
- List price (please note: all prices are in US dollars for comparison purposes)
An enterprise-focused storage offering, Box comes with a choice of subscription packages for small businesses to large enterprises. Box’s main focus is on secure file sharing and making collaboration between teams easier; its “in-browser” functionality means staff can comment on, collaborate and share documents with different levels of permission. And its security auditing and reporting capabilities provide full visibility into what staff members are doing, which helps with security compliance and productivity.
Box Business edition key features:
- Unlimited storage capacity
- 5 GB maximum file size
- Up to 50 version history records
- Encryption in transfer with high-grade SSL / TLS and multi-layered encryption at rest with 256-bit AES
- Box can be integrated into other key business applications like Salesforce, NetSuite, Jive, and more
- Box has apps available for iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry
List price: $15 per user per month
Box also has offerings for larger enterprises in the form of Box Enterprise Edition which includes additional functionality and security features such as multi-factor authentication enforcement, priced at $35 per user per month.
While initially focused on the consumer market, Dropbox is increasingly extending its reach to business users. Its ease of use is one of the key factors that’s made it popular, with users able to upload files either via the web service or by dropping items into a computer’s Dropbox folder.
Dropbox for Business key features:
- Start with 1 TB of storage but they will increase it for free if needed
- Files uploaded to Dropbox via the desktop application or mobile apps have no file size limit. Files uploaded through the website (by clicking the upload button) have a 10 GB limit
- Unlimited version history
- Files are stored using 256-bit AES encryption, and SSL creates a secure tunnel for data transfers
- Two-step verification & mobile passcodes
- There are various third party apps available to connect Dropbox with other business management software such as Salesforce and NetSuite
- Dropbox has mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry
List price: $15 per user per month
SugarSync for Business focuses on accelerating productivity and collaboration; it has a couple of plans available to businesses but is one of the higher priced solutions on the market.
SugarSync for Business key features:
- 1 TB of storage
- No file size limit
- Five past versions plus the current version of the file are saved
- Data is securely transferred in and out of the cloud using industry-standard TLS. Stored files are encrypted using 256-bit AES keys
- SugarSync can be integrated with apps such as Evernote, Gmail, Yammer, Salesforce and Zendesk
- Files can be accessed via mobile apps on unlimited devices
List price: $55 per user per month
SugarSync also offers custom business plans with more storage and tailored functionality. This is quoted on a case by case basis.
Google Drive is another option that’s expanded from the consumer space into the business world, with it offering a simple-to-use, easily expandable service. Google Drive comes as part of the Google Apps for Business package so it includes close integration with other Google apps such as Gmail and Google Calendar.
Google Drive for Business key features:
- 30 GB of storage per user shared across Drive and Gmail – up to 16 TB more can be purchased. However, documents stored in Google formats do not contribute to storage statistics, effectively meaning an unlimited number can be stored
- Up to 1 TB file size for viewing on Google Drive. However, there are limits specific to file type when working within Google Drive (e.g. character limits, cell limits, slide limits). Files that are uploaded to Google Drive and converted to a Google Doc, Google Spreadsheet or Google presentation must also be under a certain file size
- Google Docs, sheets and slides have revision history provided the user has “Can edit” access
- SSL encryption in transit, but not at rest
- There are various apps available to connect Google Apps for Business with other business management software such as Salesforce and NetSuite, all provided through 3rd Parties
- There are Google Drive apps for iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry
List price: $5 per user per month (included as part of the Google Apps for Business package)
Other file types can be stored on Google Drive such as Word or Excel documents; however you cannot make edits to the document unless you export it to Google docs or download it, make the changes and then re-upload it.
As of June 2014, Google Apps Unlimited became available which includes unlimited storage (or 1 TB per user if fewer than 5 users) and Google Vault for everyone in your organisation, plus additional Drive administration, auditing, and reporting features. This is currently $10 per user per month.
OneDrive for Business
OneDrive for Business (formerly SkyDrive Pro) is personal online storage for a company’s employees. It used to only be available as part of Office 365 but as of 1st April 2014, became available to purchase as a standalone service and includes Office Online.
OneDrive for Business key features:
- Currently 25 GB of storage, with 1 TB offered soon. Additional storage can be purchased if required
- 2 GB maximum file size
- Automatic versioning and history of documents
- SSL encryption in transit but currently no encryption at rest. Due to be added later in 2014
- Currently there are no offerings available to integrate OneDrive with any other business management software
- OneDrive for Business can be accessed on Android phones, iPhones and Windows phones; however there is currently only a native OneDrive for Business app for iOS
List price: Usually $5 per user per month but introductory promotional price of $2.50 per user per month available until the end of September 2014. However, OneDrive for Business does come with most Office 365 and SharePoint online plans at no additional cost.