Dropbox as a File Server? You Bet!

As one of the most recognizable names in cloud storage, Dropbox has been helping users safeguard and easily access their files since 2007. With easy to use functionalities, and a common-sense interface. In recent years, Dropbox has expanded its reach with Dropbox Business: an enterprise-level cloud collaboration platform that aims to assist businesses stockpile and organize massive amounts of data in the cloud. However, even as the benefits of Dropbox Business, and cloud collaboration platforms become increasingly apparent, many organizations are still hesitant to replace their file servers with them.

Aside from the familiarity on legacy storage, one of the main reasons for this trepidation is the concern that Dropbox Business simply cannot replace a file server. Will Dropbox provide the same level of security? Will Dropbox allow teams and departments to access all the files and folders they need? Will Dropbox ensure that admins have the necessary control over sensitive data, especially in the wake of recent compliance strictures?

Put simply: yes. For those who are nervous that Dropbox Business will be a poor replacement for the on-premises storage with which they have become so comfortable, there is, quite bluntly, nothing worry about.

Honestly, it’s no surprise why!

Dropbox Smart Sync Ensures a Seamless End-user Transition from File Servers

With Smart Sync allows Dropbox Business users to read, edit, and save whatever files they may need directly from the file explorer on their desktop. In short, they can browse and open a folder or document as easily as they would if it were stored on their laptop, even though the files are actually stored in the cloud. Users can opt to easily save files to their computer, should they need to access them in a location without an internet connection. The changes they make to that file will be reflected in the Dropbox version the moment they reconnect. Once they have no more use for the file on their desktop, they can remove it from the device without removing it from their Dropbox account, freeing up space as necessary.

Dropbox files and folders

Via Smart Sync, users have consistent and flexible access to their files without having to worry about taking up disk space or continually uploading new versions to the cloud every time a small change is made. This flexibility ensures that end users and team members are never out of the loop, and can participate in the projects to which they are assigned wherever they may be. Simply put, Smart Sync makes your Dropbox-stored files look exactly like they would if stored on a server, while enhancing them with all the benefits of a collaborative cloud platform.

Dropbox Team Folders and Team Spaces Keep Teams in Touch, Content Organized, and Files Secure

With Dropbox Team Folders, users have access to an easy to navigate shared drive space that facilitates both enhanced productivity and rapid collaboration.  As suggested by the name, Team Folders can be created within a Dropbox Business environment, specifically for one team or department, so that all members who are working on a given task are constantly in touch. As previously mentioned, documents and other files stored in Dropbox Business are updated in real time, and members of a given Team Folder can be automatically notified when new versions or essential edits are made to a file or folder, be that a quick grammatical correction or the uploading of a new resource.

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Team Folders also ensure that admins have enhanced control over who can view, edit, or share individual files or folders. Should a user be able to read a document but not download it? Should a user be able to download that document but not make changes? These multiple levels of accessibility ensure a fluid and tiered permission structure that give users across teams and departments the necessary information and features they need, without jeopardizing the security of restricted data or the success of an ongoing project. How these levels of accessibility are managed is ultimately up to admins, but those admins can also give specific sharing capabilities to users without disrupting the preset restrictions.

Short clip showing a review of all the users that have access to a Dropbox file

Team Spaces—essentially, the organizational architecture of all relevant folders in Dropbox Business—only amplify the power of Team Folders! Team Spaces helps admins build an easy to navigate folder structure that incorporates all relevant team, department, and individual folders under a single Dropbox Business umbrella.

One of the most useful features of Team Spaces is the possibility of nested sharing and permissions. For the uninitiated, this means that a given subdirectory can be restricted to those with access to the parent directory, or that a subfolder can be shared without giving access to all of the items in its parent directory. Ultimately, lack of nested permissions is often cited by organizations as one of the biggest reasons they opted not to move away from their servers. Fortunately, Dropbox Business recognizes this, and offers a nested permissions format that’s both comprehensive and easy to use.

Dropbox file tree

On top of this, Dropbox Business administrators can now designate tiered administrative roles to other admins. As such, tasks such as provisioning, assigning permissions, and general user management can be split up, lessening the strain on individual administrators and ensuring that each essential task gets full, comprehensive attention.

With legacy storage, it is far more difficult to track and monitor the movement of sensitive files amongst users, and much more of a hassle to consistently ensure that users have permanent or temporary access to the data that they need. In the age of GDPR, the former is a devastating oversight. In the age of lightning speed collaboration and massive data, the latter is an incredibly unnecessary hindrance.

Dropbox Business Simplifies Workflows and Keeps the Ball Rolling

The necessity of adequate and easy to manage workflow tools is absolutely essential, and features such as Box Relay demonstrate that more and more cloud collaboration providers are realizing this and responding.

For businesses that remain dependent on legacy storage solutions, these tools are rarely available, and–if they are–they are not so neatly integrated into the DNA of the storage and collaboration systems that users rely on. As such, in organizations where file servers are the norm, large teams working on long term projects are forced to scramble to make sure that every relevant user knows what he or she needs to do, and when they need to pass the baton on for the next stage of the project. The result is needlessly chaotic projects that will often be completed after the deadline; and baffled end users trying to get in touch with team members who might be working in a branch miles away, just to understand when that next spreadsheet will reach them, or if it’s even been started yet.

If you could avoid this, wouldn’t you?

Luckily, like its siblings, Dropbox Business provides departments and teams with workflow functionalities that ensure that multi-stage, complex projects can be easily planned and organized, without the need for multiple emails back and forth between coworkers trying to make sure that everyone is one the same page.

With Dropbox Business’ workflow options, teams can simply delegate tasks to individual users, who can easily notify their compatriots when the task is complete. Team leaders are able to draft up detailed schedules and comprehensive assignment lists, so that every member of even the largest team is constantly aware of what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when by it should be complete.

Dropbox Business Can Supersede a File Server

Circling back around to the initial question, the answer should now be clear. Dropbox Business isn’t built to simply take the place of your servers. It’s designed to take their place and out-do them, providing your end users and your admins with an entire never before experience arsenal of tools that amplify collaboration, strengthen security, enable sharing, and multiply productivity.

With tools like Smart Sync, organizational functionalities like Team Spaces, and features like workflow and folder management, Dropbox Business is helping organizations across all industries evolve for the better. While file servers may be familiar, they’re also woefully inadequate, and Dropbox Business migration is demonstrating this in spades. There’s absolutely no reason to leave your users and your enterprise as a whole up a creek without a paddle, when you have such better options.

Dropbox Business can replace a file server. And with the help of Cloud FastPath, you’ll quickly come to wonder why Dropbox Business didn’t replace your file servers sooner.