Eight business-class alternatives to Dropbox

Eight business-class alternatives to Dropbox

Summary: Dropbox has become one of the world's most popular cloud storage services by focusing on consumers. But businesses have different needs, and a recent controversial move by the company offers an opportunity to take a fresh look at alternative services that might be more suitable for your business.


Dropbox stirred up a hornet’s nest last week with the announcement that it had appointed Condoleezza Rice to its board of directors.

Part of the controversy is political. Rice was Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration a decade ago and was part of the team that authorized the invasion of Iraq.

But the appointment is even more surprising given the former National Security Advisor’s role in establishing and defending warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency, a program that started in 2002 and was revealed publicly in 2005.

That combination led one group to start a Drop Dropbox campaign and forced the company into damage-control mode with a "we should have been clearer" statement from Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. But as more than 1000 comments on that post made clear, the move was not well received.

After revelations in documents leaked by Edward Snowden suggested that American tech companies were cooperating with the NSA – accusations that all of those companies vigorously denied – Forrester estimated that those companies (including Dropbox) could lose $180 billion in business over the next few years as customers shun American cloud services.

Even if you can ignore the politics, the controversy provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at your cloud storage options. Dropbox has grown to be among the largest cloud storage services in the world, with more than 200 million users, by focusing on consumers. But businesses have different needs, including robust encryption, reliability, and compliance with regulatory requirements like HIPAA.

If you’re a subscriber to the Tech Pro Research service, you can read my detailed analysis of the business criteria to consider in choosing a cloud service (see Six business-class cloud storage services: Which one is right for you?).

In this post, I offer a capsule summary of eight worthy alternatives to Dropbox. Most of the services on this list, which is presented in alphabetical order, offer basic consumer storage as well as more feature-rich business-oriented offerings.



Box's co-founders, CFO Dylan Smith and CEO Aaron Levie.

This service, which has been in business for nearly a decade under CEO wunderkind Aaron Levie, shifted its focus from consumer accounts to businesses long ago. As of early 2014, the company claimed 34,000 paying business customers. Its basic business accounts offer a total of 1000 GB of storage for $15 per user per month (with a minimum of 3 users). Box is especially attractive to Microsoft shops, with Windows Phone and native Windows 8 apps. It also offers excellent Office integration with a free add-in for Office 2007, Office 2010, and Office 2013 that lets you open, save, and share files from the cloud without having to leave the Office programs.




This relatively new service is backed by Barracuda, a company best known for its enterprise security and spam-filtering appliances and services. A personal Copy account provides 15 GB of storage, with no limits on the size of individual files; paid storage upgrades to 250 or 500 GB are available. The business service, Copy for Companies offers central management tools and “as much storage as you need*”: the asterisk leads to a disclaimer that defines that storage capacity “based on typical user usage across the industry,” whatever that means. If you need five or fewer accounts, you can get a Copy for Companies account for free, with storage limited by each user’s personal account allotment.

Google Drive



Google Drive, introduced in 2012, is the new name for what used to be the file storage component of Google Docs. That’s still its main job, despite the fact that Google Drive has sync clients for every platform except Linux and offers 15 GB of storage to go with its free Gmail accounts and 30 GB for each paid Google Apps for Business account. Google recently announced dramatic price cuts to its storage upgrades for individual accounts, with a terabyte of extra storage costing $10 a month. Business storage upgrades (which are purchased in bulk and then assigned to individual users) cost considerably more: $7.50 a month for 50 GB, $89 for 1 TB, all the way up to $1,430 for 16 TB.

Intermedia SecuriSync



Intermedia is the largest third-party provider of hosted Microsoft Exchange services in the world, with an impressive range of services and world-class support. SecuriSync is the latest addition to Intermedia's suite of online services and is included as a feature in its Enterprise plan, which includes Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. Data meets the core standards for enterprise-grade security, with encryption in transit and at rest. There are no limitations on file size, and the integration with Office apps and Windows networks (including Active Directory support) is excellent. You can also sign up for SecuriSync as a stand-alone service: The entry-level cost is $5 per user per month, which includes 10 GB of storage space per account. Bumping the per-user cost to $10 per month is a significantly better deal, at 50 GB per user.

Microsoft OneDrive



The Service Formerly Known as SkyDrive offers 7 GB of free storage with every account. Attaching an Office 365 Home or Personal subscription adds 20 GB to that total, and additional storage is available as a paid upgrade. The killer feature of OneDrive is integration with Office Online, which allows you to create, edit, and share Office files in a web browser from any device (including an iPad). Although the service is aimed at consumers, there are no license restrictions to prevent commercial use. Client software is available for Windows 7 and up and for OS X, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Microsoft OneDrive for Business


As of last month, Microsoft’s enterprise-grade storage is available as a standalone product. You’re more likely to use it as one of the pieces in Office 365’s business plans, however. In Small Business, Midsize Business, and Enterprise plans, each user account gets 25 GB of secure online storage as well as 50 GB for Exchange email. In addition, the organizational account gets 10 GB plus an extra 500 MB per user for sharing files via SharePoint. Extra storage for the organization account is available for $0.20 per gigabyte per month (which works out to $20 per month for an extra 100 GB). The control panel in Midsize and Enterprise allows that extra storage to be assigned to individual OneDrive for Business accounts.




You would think, based on SpiderOak’s feature set, that it was the first post-Snowden cloud service, and yet it's been in business since 2007. The company's "zero knowledge" privacy design means it never sees your password, it never has access to your encryption keys, and it receives, stores, and sends only encrypted files. SpiderOak staff can't even retrieve metadata such as the names or sizes of files; instead, they see sequentially numbered containers of encrypted data. Individual accounts start with 2 GB of free storage. Upgrades, in 100 GB increments, cost $10 a month or $100 a year. The SpiderOak Blue business service starts at $600 a month, with a terabyte of storage for up to 100 users. The company will even allow you to store data on your own servers and use its authentication and access tools. A small-business version of the Blue service is “coming soon.”




The major selling point of this service, besides the fact that it’s based in Switzerland, is that your data is encrypted from end to end. “Your password never leaves your computer. Nobody - not even we as storage provider - can access your data without your authorization.” Wuala Business accounts start at $429 a year for five users and a total of 100 GB of storage. Since 2009, the service has been owned by LaCie, which in turn was acquired by Seagate at the end of 2013. LaCie recently suffered an embarrassing security breach in its e-commerce website. There’s no indication that the storage service has suffered any similar problems, however.

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software

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  • Funny

    Dropbox is not a business product. Neither is OneDrive or Google. Google steals and/or publishes your data, and then says they didn't know they were doing it.

    On the other hand, Box and OneDrive for Business are. Users of the most secure smartphone, BlackBerry, have been using Box for years. I don't know about the others.

    People want to drop Dropbox because Ms. Rice is on the board. Do people buy, or not buy, Apple products because of who's on the board of directors? How many Microsoft or Apple consumers even know who's on the boards of directors?

    Oppression is an ugly thing. Look what happened at Mozilla last week. A man is ousted because his personal belief systems isn't liberal enough. This reminds me of German soldiers on the Russian front in WWII. If one even said, "I don't think we're going to win," he could be court martialed.

    Congress authorized the Irag war. Ms Rice was not part of the team that authorized it.
    • Don't post before you think

      If you use free stuff for business, you reap what you sew. If you pay for Google Apps for Business, they absolutely do not datamine for ad purposes and it's definitely an enterprise-ready solution. 5 million business and counting, plus tons of government and educational organizations, didn't just pick it on a whim without doing due diligence.
      Bob Buchko
      • Paid Google Apps does mine

        There is no difference between paid account and free account around e-mail scanning and ad mining. Don't believe me? You don't have to. Read the privacy notice here: http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/ Show me where it even mentions paid or free (hint: it doesn't - the word "free" only appears around charge for fixing a mistake, and "paid" and "apps" never appear).

        The statement that paid accounts aren't mined is factually wrong. It always has been. Not sure where people got that idea from - wishful thinking I guess.

        Why else do you think Apps is under $4/month? It's _not_ because Google is so much better than everyone else at doing e-mail infrastructure.
        • Enterprise

          Google's enterprise customers are covered by a contract that supersedes the default (free user) privacy policy. They don't datamine those customers.
          • Enterprise contract doesnt mean much to Google

            They have been sued for breach of contract for data mining customers that have that contract on more than one occasion.
      • We use the Google Products, however,

        I don't know if I would stand behind the don't datamine but that's neither here not there. And BTW the tools stink. the UI/UX needs a ton of work and believe me they have issues.
    • One drive and Google drive. ..

      Are prime candidates for businesses as they are likely already a part of their email and office apps services.

      As for the politics, if people want to make life difficult for others, the least we can do is return the favor. Good point about apple and Microsoft. Maybe we should be looking at their boards as well. At the very least, you have to question their judgment over at Dropbox, bringing her on right after the whole mozilla thing. Whether it was right or wrong, it's terrible timing.
      • Board membership's political views, are irrelevant to the JOB

        I read somewhere last week (?) that Al Gore is on the Board at Apple. I can't stand him. But that isn't why I don't buy Apple stuff. I'm no fan of Prop 8, either, but it was wrong to can Eich, and it is more wrong to campaign against Dropbox for hiring Rice. Board members are there to ADVISE, to consult on the big-picture direction of the COMPANY, has zippo to do with politics or belief systems. IF we were to base our purchasing decisions on the politics of those in company, why stop at the Board? Surely every company on earth has some rabid Nazi working in it, some flagrantly promiscuous homosexual (or heterosexual, take your pick) -- someone whose beliefs and politics, you'd find abhorrent. So then the whole company should be 'punished' by you not buying, because of the few in it?

        And one's politics, change. My beliefs about God and politics are so different from even a year ago, my head is still spinning. Haven't your beliefs changed over a year? So what you believed a year ago, now makes you cringe? Do you still play with Tonka trucks or baby dolls? No. They make you cringe, too.

        So let's put the politics and belief system arguments in their own box, AWAY from our reasons to purchase a product: you buy what works well, and stop buying what didn't. THAT is the only valid purchasing criterion.
        • Board Membershp's Political Views ARE Relevant to the JOB

          If you are a digital storage company and you add board members who believe that the federal government has the right to snoop through your data that indicates the direction those members will take with respect to pushing back against that snooping.

          Boards members set policy and Rice's policy is that the feds should be allowed to go around the courts. Appointing her to the board of directors shows the direction dropbox is moving in with respect to user's privacy.
          • Not really

            It really depends on the company how much the views of the board members matter on specific issues. Rice's views on the NSA is more relevant to her membership at Dropbox than Eich's views gay marriage at Mozilla. But in a different context, the importance of these views would reverse.
        • The board member's politics are absolutely not irrelevant

          Corporate politics matter. People are fully entitled to use or not use products based on their opinions of the people who make them.

          And two more notes:
          First, businesses are neither ethical nor political. Only the people who run them are. We should *not* judge MS for the way it behaved, as a company, in the 90's because that is irrelevant. We *should* judge the corporate management and the members of the board for the way MS behaved, as a company, in the 90's because those are the people who *made* MS behave that way.

          Second, I would argue that making decisions about whether or not to use products based solely upon the quality of those products is bad consumerism. It *matters* how the product was made, *what* the money you spent on that product will go to support, and *who* will be reaping the rewards or costs of your purchase. Getting a bigot out of the CEO position of a charitable organization was a wonderful example of the market *working.* It was not a reflection of the market breaking down.

          Condoleezza Rice was instrumental in taking this country into one of the most patently ill-advised foreign policy blunders ever. That blunder cost us and the world nearly a trillion dollars and maybe a million lives. She should be in jail, not on the board of directors of any company.
          x I'm tc
          • x I'm tc: Such utter BS!!!

            Rice was in the Bush administration, and she was an adviser, and she could either approve or disapprove the decision to go to war.

            However, when it came to the decision to go to war, it was up to the people in congress, and as far as I know, Rice was not in congress. Congress approved the decision by the Bush administration to go to war.

            Moreover, when it came to the decision to go to war, it was a bipartisan decision, with democrats and republicans voting for war.

            In addition, way before the Bush administration, and even after 9/11, the democrats were the most boisterous about going to war to depose Saddam Hussein; that's on the record and can easily be looked up.

            Bush would've been happy to continue reading to elementary school kids, and not even think about war. But, the war was brought home to the U.S., and the U.S. had to do something about terrorism. Terrorism wasn't present in just Afghanistan; it was present in Iraq, and Iraq exported its terrorism by supporting terror groups all over the middle-east. While the Taliban were the "official" center of terrorism that attacked Americans, the support for them came from all the terror-supporting governments in the middle-east. Getting rid of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, was not going to be enough to eradicate the terrorism that emanated from the region of the world. Iraq would've continued targeting Israel and the U.S, and other western interests. Those are things that the democrats mentioned a lot, even before Bush became president.

            Fact is that, the recent decisions by Bush and Obama to start pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, have emboldened Al-Qaeda and other terror organizations to increase their roles all over the world. Weakness always encourages aggression by our enemies, and we are witnessing that right now. Al-Qaeda saw weakness before 9/11, and used it to strike us. There is no doubt that they will be trying for a similar strike, or something even bigger, in the future.

            While Rice wasn't the final decision-maker for going to war, the decision was still one that was needed, and even the democrats agreed with it at the time. It's only later, when the democrats saw that the wars were giving Bush a huge political advantage with foreign policy, that they decided that, they needed to politicize the wars, and attack and demonize the decisions that they themselves voted to approve. People have very short memories, and people here, including Ed Boot, are very guilty of that.
          • Your problem is, you are trying

            to use reason on irrational people. Good luck with that.
        • but

          would you buy products from a company where the CEO supported a drive to label african americans with the N word ?
          or jews with a yellow star
          prop8 is absolutely no different, and anyone who is craven enough to hide behind religion is a scumbag
    • So...

      What you are saying is "OneDrive for Business" is not for business? Your stupid -- it burns.
      • People who live in glass houses...

        "your" stupid... priceless stuff
    • but box is like for , uh, gag me with a spoon, tweens

      maybe I'm old an crochety, but the whole box look and feel, and the features, at least on the free, scream, I was put together by two teenage boys....
      just not for me, and the interface is clunky and amatuerish; just on first use, so many spots where obvious improements could have been made...that they havn't in 10 years sayss they may be wunderkinds, but they don't care about their users
    • Condoleezza Rice

      According to Wikipedia, "Rice headed Chevron's committee on public policy until she resigned on January 15, 2001, to become National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush."

      According to you, "Congress authorized the Irag war. Ms Rice was not part of the team that authorized it." Not part of the team? Condoleezza Rice _headed_ the team. She worked directly with Veep Vader, who lied about Iraq having WMDs. Who authorized torture. Who served as de facto president of the US during W's first term. If this immensely talented woman (why, she even plays classicsal music on the piano!) steps foot in Europe she will be arrested as a war criminal. And you see nothing wrong with Dropbox making her a Director. Of course not! Except by your logic General Motors should have been free to appoint Adolph Eichmann a Director, or, possibly a better use of his strengths, as head of Public Relations.
  • TitanFile?

    Another popular one (at least here in Canada) is TitanFile. With an emphasis on security, compliance and privacy it's worth considering. (I do NOT work for TitanFile).
  • Regardless, I'm using the product that I like the best

    Ok Ed, so you are drinking the media cool aid. If Dropbox remains a simple uncluttered cloud solution for either my personal needs or a future business solution - I'm staying with it - regardless of who's on their board.