Online File Storage and Collaboration Tools
Two of my favorite tools for online storage and collaboration are DropBox and Box.net. Because each product offers features that the other lacks, and because they appear to be attacking the challenges of collaboration different perspectives, I make use of both products, albeit to achieve slightly different objectives.
Due to the desktop client component of DropBox, it is my hands down favorite tool for synchronizing my data (particularly scripts and documents) across multiple machines, while also allowing providing for real-time collaboration of documents without me having to specifically upload them somewhere. I can store and edit them in place, and once I’ve finished working on them, they are automatically available to any friends and colleagues that I have previously shared them with. In a pinch, I can use the web-only access to DropBox to upload or download any critical content, but I almost exclusively use it for the backup and synchronization functionality of its client component. Support for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux are available, but I only use it on Windows.
Box.net, on the other hand, is online only, but it has a rich integration with 3rd party products and services, including LinkedIn, Google Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook, just to name a few. The integration with LinkedIn was what got me using Box.net, and the addition of even more services will only increase my usage. Because Box.net offers lots of flexibility in how you can share and organize your files (and still be able to get a web link for them), I use Box.net more for files where I want to provide remote access to them – especially if I don’t want the source files to be altered. Not only does it offer superior sharing and permissions options, but it allows you to track external access to shared files. Auditing is pretty good (although you have to pay for an upgraded account to track anonymous users).
Another Dropbox advantage is that the free product offers more default space (2GB vs. 1GB) than Box.net, and rewards referrals by giving you up to 5GB total space. Both vendors providing a couple of subscription options, with Dropbox offering up to 100GB storage, and Box.net offering up to 15GB with a 14-day trial.
As it pertains to value, I don’t think you can directly compare the price of these two services – certainly not a per GB basis. That is simply because I wouldn’t (and don’t) use them in the same way or to accomplish the same goals.
I do think that both services are worth an upgrade (I’m using the free version of both right now), but I’d sooner upgrade Dropbox only because I’m more likely to run out of my current 5GB storage with that service before I exceed my 1GB Box.net storage. Only time will tell if my usage patterns change. Perhaps, if I were to begin collaborating more on various projects, I might need to expand the Box.net storage first, but for now, it doesn’t look quite that way. Either way, I have two great tools that serve complimentary functions using slightly different methodology. More options for me!
I’d recommend that you give both of them a try, especially DropBox, which has achieved “must use” status in my toolbox.