Dropbox for business

  • Is a network storage solution.
  • Works on a team basis.
  • Works at the document level.

What does this mean?

It means that there is a big filing cabinet somewhere (lets call it in the cloud).  Each member of the team has a drawer in the filing cabinet.

There are also drawers in the filing cabinet that can be made available to all, or particular members of a team.

The team manager has control over what is shared and how it is shared ie a drawer might be shared in such a way that anyone with access can alter the documents or it might be that the documents may only be read.

The workflow is as follows:

I create a document on my desktop computer in the dropbox folder.  A copy of the document is sent to the filing cabinet in the cloud.  If my dropbox folder is on another device ie my laptop, then if it is on and connected to the internet, a copy of my document is sent to that machine.  If it is off, then a copy will be sent to it when it is turned on.

If I have shared my folder with other team members then a copy of my document is also stored on their computers.

This works fine as long as only one person has the document open at one time on one computer.  If two people open the document and edit it then dropbox will create a second document and append the words “john’s conflicted copy 2009-10-15) to the file name.  This means that you don’t overwrite a document but you now have two different documents.

Dropbox requires the applications needed to open and edit documents to be on each computer or device.  Dropbox is a document storage and synchronisation system.

 

Google Apps

Google Apps is a service from Google providing independently customizable versions of several Google products under a custom domain name. It features several Web applications with similar functionality to traditional office suites, including Gmail, Google Groups, Google Calendar, Talk, Docs and Sites.

What does this mean?  Google Apps is like an office, there is a filing cabinet and desks for the users to sit at that contain all the tools they need.  There is a conference table where two or more people can work on a project together.

Documents are created using google apps and stored in the cloud.  These documents are available from any device that is connected to the internet.  If two people open the same document at the same time, then they can both edit the document and can see in real time the edits being made by other users.

Documents can be shared with others or linked in realtime to a website.  This means that you can have an active document displayed on your website the can be edited by one or more people and will reflect those changes immediately.

How would you use this?  You can have multiple calendars that can be shared and updated by the team.  You also have Drive for storage of all types of documents in a similar manner to dropbox.  Then there is Docs, a word processor with many features similar to word.  Sheets for your spreadsheet needs.  Slides for doing presentations.

Costs

Google apps for business costs $5 per user per month

Dropbox for business is $795 per year for the first 5 users and $125 per year per user on top of that.

 Storage

Google apps 30gb per user with additional space available at $37.50 for 20gb

Dropbox unlimited

For normal use 30gb per user could be considered as unlimited.

My opinion

Google apps offers a more complete system for management of documents, it doesn’t require users to have a particular set of software and can be used on almost any device.  Google apps is almost half the price of dropbox with much more functionality.