At WHYPAY? we believe that effective business tools shouldn’t cost the Earth, which is why we set out to make the best free conferencing service out there. This got us thinking: if you can get conference calls for no cost, what other great services can you get for free? That is why we have scoured the web to find the best free services to help your business and to bring them to you weekly.
The first in the series is one of the great success stories and one of the most recognisable names on the internet, Dropbox.
Never be without your files
One of the cornerstones of any successful business is information and documentation sharing. Making sure that everyone has access to everything they need at their fingertips is just the first step of the journey. It’s also essential that information can be updated by the right people as soon as possible no matter where they are.
This is where cloud based file hosting services come into their own and one of the largest and most popular of these is Dropbox. With a user base of over 400 million users worldwide and saving around 1 billion files every day, it’s easy to see why tech giants like Microsoft were keen to partner with them.
Dropbox has been providing a cloud based sharing solution since being founded in 2007 by MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi. The story goes that Drew came up with the idea after he often forgot a USB flash drive with all his files on it. Since then it has grown to the point that it is now partnered with a number of high profile companies such as Microsoft and has even been pre-packaged on smart phones.
Benefits of cloud storage
It’s key to understand why cloud based storage is such a useful service, even for smaller companies. Here are 5 key reasons to explain why it’s invaluable:
- Accessibility – Files hosted on a cloud service such as Dropbox can be accessed anywhere you have access to the internet, allowing a user to retrieve or store documents while out of the office. This can be essential for staff who are mobile or remote working.
- Sharing – With group folders a user can save a document which can be easily retrieved by others with the correct permissions. This is far more efficient than relying on email distribution lists, especially if the document is being edited by more than one person and can be edited at the same time.
- Disaster recovery – Any documents in cloud storage are more resistant to being lost through external factors than ones kept locally. Hardware can be lost, damaged, become faulty or one of any number of other disasters. This is less likely to happen to files stored in the cloud.
- Cost – The price for online storage is negligible and can even be free. When you compare this to how much physical backups can cost, it’s easy to see how much can be saved.
- Synchronization – With traditional forms of document sharing, it was possible for several versions to be in circulation at once. Especially in rapidly evolving projects. A missed e-mail or misplaced file could lead to confusion, delay and extra cost. If everyone is synced from the cloud, then everyone will have the latest version.
While there are many cloud storage solutions on the market, Dropbox remains at the forefront of developing technologies in the field. So you can be guaranteed that your files are being kept safe in state-of-the-art security. They have also invested heavily in Europe and have recently announced a new infrastructure that will allow the fastest sync speeds in the industry.
Its mass usage is one of the reasons why it is so good for business users. Many companies have found that their staff have already been using Dropbox in a personal space and are already familiar with its interfaces and functions. This cuts down considerably on training time and the reluctance to use new software that can sometimes occur.
Another benefit of its popularity is that it has been ported to the majority of operating systems that are currently in use. This means that there is far less of a chance of your files being unable to be read or retrieved. If you are sharing amongst other departments or companies that have different technology, it’s a godsend.
Dropbox also has a large amount of add-ons available: both official ones and unofficial community created offerings. These can streamline the service to be even more effective for your personal needs. Popular uses for add-ons include simplifying the ways to add files to your storage, extending ways people can access and share to the service and even backing up amongst numerous other cloud providers.
Possibly the best thing about Dropbox is its cost. For its basic features, it’s completely free and for a lot of SMEs this is all you need. You get 2gb of data storage, which is enough for around 14,000 documents that are 10 pages long. While you don’t get all the options available to the paid version, there is more than enough for most business needs. As your company grows, you can then invest in larger packages to ensure you always have the exact amount of space and service that you need.
With a highly skilled development team, worldwide presence and a dedicated community, Dropbox looks set to be at the top of the cloud storage scene for a while to come.
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