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Breaking Up with Dropbox: Finding a Better Solution for File Storage, Sync and Sharing

File sharing and synchronization between multiple devices have become near-necessities for most businesses in today’s corporate environment. Among the three IT “pillars” for business today―mobility, security and availability―two are strongly tied to company personnel having anytime, anywhere access to corporate files. That usually (but not always) means a move to cloud computing in some form, and for many firms, it increasingly means DropBox or Google Drive.

These solutions are easy and inexpensive to use, encouraging small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to take a benign view of them. In companies without a formalized file sharing and syncing system, many employees adopt Dropbox or Google Drive (or both) on their own, outside the corporate structure but with corporate files stored on them.

This is a simple answer to a problem, but it’s not the most secure or efficient one. Here are just a few of the many concerns:

  • Third-party file storage runs on a large public cloud, and as a result is generally riskier than other forms of cloud storage. This is especially true of the “consumer-grade” forms of cloud storage, which may offer fewer security protections than their enterprise counterparts.
  • If users store their passwords for personal cloud storage on improperly secured mobile devices, the problem becomes even bigger.
  • When employees store corporate files on a non-corporate resource, they are likely causing them to become out of sync with other circulating versions and potentially inaccessible to other personnel in the company.
  • Most of these providers don’t automatically backup user files in a way that makes them easily accessible for retrieval in the event of file corruption or accidental deletion.

Even one of these criteria should motivate business owners to shut down use of personal cloud storage at the office, yet it continues to proliferate. Prudent business owners will deploy an enterprise-grade file storage/sharing/sync solution and develop a formal policy that requires its use.

However, resistance to change can be strong, so what can a firm do to persuade its personnel―and most importantly the mobile workforce―to drop kick Dropbox and other personal cloud storage to the curb, at least for corporate files? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Include end users―especially respected “thought leaders” among the staff―by asking them what features matters to them and what challenges they would like to resolve. Then, do your best to address these requests or have a logical reason why you cannot. This will increase buy-in.
  • Look for a solution that is fast and seamless―security features, in particular, shouldn’t slow down the workforce or you will get pushback.
  • Focus on usability and utility to end-users during the trial. Once you’ve selected a solution, develop promotional messages that showcase user-requested features.

With so many enterprise-grade file storage/sharing/syncing offerings available, some solid research will help you find one that works for the business and its personnel. We’ve even seen storage-related IT services where corporate files remain on the office servers, but personnel can access and share them remotely through a cloud-based solution.

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