For small-to-medium sized businesses, cloud storage is a must-have. Storing company resources in the cloud means no on-site storage servers to manage, thereby reducing costs and effort. However, not all cloud storage tools are created equal. Here’s a breakdown of the top three tools and how they stand up as practical business solutions based on their abilities to manage documents, integrate with devices, and support collaboration.
Dropbox: Great for Personal Use, Not Business
Dropbox’s “for Business” offering provides cloud storage in a very basic form. Files are categorized using folders, which lack any sorting or filtering functionality. Metadata or other supplemental information cannot be added to organize the files. As the content volume grows, the lack of categorization makes locating specific files more difficult, and causes search results to lack refinement.
In desktop environments, Dropbox for Business creates a synced folder on the local hard drive, with dynamic icons showing the sync status of the various files or folders. On mobile devices, the Dropbox app allows users access to content, but not to edit or update documents. Either interface is fine for browsing personal content (which was the original Dropbox’s purpose), but they become cumbersome when browsing through a company’s worth of documents.
Dropbox for Business support varies by subscription. Standard subscriptions ($12.50/user/month) are limited to email and chat support. Advanced subscriptions ($20/user/month) provide access to telephone support, but only during business hours. Enterprise subscriptions include 24/7 telephone support, but pricing for this plan (much like Dropbox’s support phone number) is not publicly available.
Dropbox also lacks in supporting collaboration. Dropbox’s “team” folders can only be created and owned by admins, and “shared” folders and their contents are still “owned” by their creators. If two users work on a document simultaneously, the required Dropbox Badge plug-in for Microsoft Office has compatibility issues, particularly with Excel. If creating content for Dropbox requires Microsoft Office, why not use a tool built for Office? We’ll get to that later.
Google Drive: Close, But No Enterprise CMS
Google’s G Suite includes Google Drive, another cloud storage tool offering a free version as well as a paid “for Business” version. Like Dropbox, content is arranged in Google Drive in a folder structure, without any form of metadata categorization. Finding one document in an archive of hundreds can be unnecessarily difficult, especially without metadata to refine search results.
Google Drive is intended to be populated with content generated by Google’s Docs, Sheets, and Slides applications, which are bare-bones clones of Microsoft Office’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These tools are available as dedicated apps for mobile devices and Chrome OS laptops, but Google Apps have no desktop integration for traditional Windows or macOS computers. Files can be updated through the more capable Microsoft Office apps, but if you’re going to use Office, there’s a more suitable cloud storage tool… which we’ll talk about soon.
Google Drive customers are limited to chat and email for contacting Google if something goes wrong. Whether using a free repository or paying $100/month for 10TB of storage space, Google doesn’t offer Drive telephone support. If issues are time-sensitive, this can be risky.
Files are stored either in personal Drives and shared outward or in Team Drives created by an organization’s G Suite administrator. Users with the correct permissions can copy or move files out of a Team Drive and into their personal Drive. Files moved outside a Team Drive cease to be “co-owned” by members of the Team Drive. These files can be lost, shared externally, or become fragmented by different versions being updated separately. They can also be rendered inaccessible if a document is stored in the Drive of an employee who left the company.
SharePoint: The Cloud Storage Your Business Deserves
Microsoft SharePoint Online or included in the Office 365 suite is the most business-capable cloud storage tool. In additional to traditional folder structures, SharePoint libraries support custom metadata for file categorization, and custom library configurations for advanced sorting and filtering. This custom metadata means search results are more refined as well.
Users can choose between desktop, mobile, or browser-based Microsoft Office apps to edit content. Files are stored within site document libraries, which can be synced to local folders if desired. As these applications were all built by Microsoft for use with SharePoint, they offer seamless integration with all modern devices, and preserve formatting and metadata. Plus SharePoint comes with most Office 365 plans.
SharePoint was built for collaboration. Dedicated project sites can be built with multiple document libraries secured to specific user groups. Office mobile, desktop, or web apps can be used to work simultaneously, and changes are visible to everyone as they occur. Users can “check out” files, preventing other users from editing the file while they work on it. Unique to SharePoint is workflow integration for automating and streamlining collaborative processes.
Need Help Setting Up SharePoint? We’re Here to Help!
Perhaps the only weakness of SharePoint compared to its counterparts is complexity. The wealth of features unique to the platform take some know-how to properly set up. Without relevant experience, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, there are multiple paths to the benefits SharePoint offers. We’ve created a simple, easy-to-use business template for SharePoint that will have you up and running in no time. To learn more, visit businesshub.cloudmadesimple.com.au