Using Dropbox for corporate file sharing

End users are turning to Dropbox, a personal file-sharing service, for corporate file sharing. There are a couple ways to make Dropbox part of your corporate file-sharing strategy.

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If you’re an IT professional who has grown tired of fighting employees’ Dropbox use for corporate file sharing, there are ways to embrace the service and tailor its use to your company’s needs.

Dropbox allows users to store documents in the cloud and access them across a number of devices.    Users can also share documents and specify which collaborators can access which folders. For corporate file sharing, Dropbox for Teams gives more control to IT administrators.

Both Dropbox and Dropbox for Teams have a place in the corporate world. Either way, employees benefit from the easy-to-use file-sharing capabilities they want at work.

Dropbox in corporate environments

With the consumer version of Dropbox, installation occurs on a user-by-user basis, and data security is left up to individuals as well.

To set up Dropbox, all a user has to do is sign up and download the Dropbox client onto his or her devices. The desktop client creates a folder that appears to be local but actually stores its contents in the cloud. By default, everything in the Dropbox folder is synchronized to the local computer, but users can specify which folders need to be synchronized and which don’t. This capability is great for devices with limited storage space, because if a user doesn’t need a certain file on his device, he or she can just keep it in the cloud.

Users can share entire folders in Dropbox, even with people outside of their own company’s IT infrastructure. On a typical Windows server, users can share files only with others in the same Active Directory. But with Dropbox, corporate file sharing is done through emailed links, which are not tied to corporate user identities. To share a Dropbox folder, all a user has to do is right-click it, select the option to share it and enter the email addresses of the intended collaborators.

Corporate file sharing with Dropbox for Teams

Dropbox for Teams takes the cloud service to the corporate level, adding more IT controls and making Dropbox a viable alternative to corporate file servers. With Dropbox for Teams, administrators can place users into groups that all access the same folders. Establishing a team of up to five users with 100 GB of storage space costs $795 a year.

From the corporate perspective, the most important benefit of Dropbox for Teams is that it allows for the separation of personal user information from corporate data. (Existing users can continue to utilize their personal accounts and convert them into Teams accounts, however.) IT controls access to the data in the Dropbox for Teams account, and keeping that data separate reduces the chances of a user accidentally confusing files and sharing corporate data with the wrong people.

This was first published in December 2011

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