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Box vs Dropbox (update)

In my original post that took a hard look at Box, I was very close to abandoning Dropbox for good and I thought I had I’ve made a decision. Goodbye Dropbox! :-)

*Update 1/14/13* Due to a single and incredibly important feature gap in the Box offering, I have to recommend staying with Dropbox as of this writing. Incomprehensibly, Box does not currently support sub folder syncing via the desktop sync client, only top level folders. This means that any nested folders with content changes or creation will not be synced across your desktop clients. This also means that there is no selective/ targeted folder sync which is particularly useful for enterprise deployments who do not wish to sync GBs or TBs of top level data across hundreds or thousands of user desktops. I made the mistake, as did many others, that Box would support sub folder syncing, because, how could they not! Box reps message in a lengthy and frustrated customer support thread that this feature will be coming sometime in the first HALF of 2013, even though customers have been asking for this for over a year. Unacceptable and I'm not willing to wait. If and when Box finally gets their act together I'll reconsider their value proposition, but for now, I'm going back to Dropbox who have supported this feature since the days of beta. Box support thread. 

There are a few things that have changed favorably since I penned that post and a key feature that I made an incorrect assumption about. Most notably, the maximum individual file size for free personal accounts has been increased to 250MB. This suits me fine based on what I store in my Dropbox today. The other thing that Box doesn’t outwardly explain well is the bandwidth limitation of 10GB. This limitation pertains to files downloaded via shared links only. Not your regular up and download traffic. As you can see here I’ve uploaded nearly 4GB of files and my bandwidth consumption is still 0.

Box regularly runs campaigns that offer very generous lifetime 50GB accounts if you’re lucky enough to jump in on time. As you can see above, I have. Even maxing out my referrals with all available Dropbox promotions I still wouldn’t hit that number. Check here to find out how to get in on the fun.
Box has also just launched v2 of their UI including new feature builds for mobile platform support. This is another existing area where Dropbox falls short. In Box, you can now preview or open numerous common file formats without having 3rd-party file previewers or Office suites. This is very cool! Box has also implemented their own flavor of the OAuth2 standard which tracks device-based logon sessions in combination with 2-factor authentication (PINs via SMS), allowing you to permit and kill selective sessions. The only thing lacking so far for me here is the ability to name the individual sessions something more meaningful. Everything just shows up generically labeled from the point of access. As someone who accesses cloud storage from multiple devices, this needs to get better for sure.
Box feels more like a true enterprise product with tons of options and plugins to enable collaboration. The application support ecosystem for Box is also very compelling. There are 7 pages of free apps that integrate with Box to perform a number of functions and tasks. Any of these can be enabled and accessed at any time.

All that said, I’m going for it. I am uploading all of my files to Box and will run exclusively from there for a trial period. Unless something goes horrendously wrong [it did, see 1/14 update above], I should have no reason to return to Dropbox.
If you’d like to try Box but want to maintain your Dropbox as well, here is a method that will allow you to keep the 2 in sync while you kick the tires.
  • On a PC where you already have Dropbox installed, install the Box Sync client.
  • Once installed, open a command prompt and CD to the Box directory (c:\users\username\documents\my box files).
  • Create symbolic directory links to the folders in your Dropbox using mklink:
mklink /D "bin" C:\Users\username\Dropbox\bin
This will create shortcut pointers in your Box directory structure that point to your Dropbox files. Any file change originating in either location will now be reflected in both. Plus you will only have a single copy of the files. As a result all file changes will push up to both cloud providers keeping each in sync.

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