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Box Review: Is it Good Enough?

At 15 years old, Box is ancient in software years. But don’t let its age fool you into thinking Box is just another dried up legacy enterprise solution. Box continues to provide cutting edge features and services for businesses large and small, and that’s why we continue to recommend it.

Box offers several service levels–even a couple of tiers aimed at consumers, including a free version–but its business versions are the most powerful and useful for the majority of people. And it will scale with you as your business grows without adding any complexity to managing the service.

Box is best known for simplifying sharing and collaboration. You can store documents and edit them right within Box. It’s an invaluable tool for organizing work and accessing it from anywhere.

So, what do you need to know before you sign up? Let’s start with the basics: plans and pricing.

Box overview

Box is a cloud storage service that provides excellent file sharing and syncing in a single interface. Box excels in helping employees collaborate on files, no matter the complexity of your workflows or requirements for compliance.

Businesses can choose from several pricing tiers. You pay for the service based on the number of users who need access. Paying for the whole year, rather than month to month, will save you roughly 25%. No contract required.

In the upper three pricing tiers, there are no storage or user limits. The Starter and free plans (which Box aims more at consumers than businesses) come with significant limitations in total storage and in the size of individual files you can upload.

Box for business: Pricing and plans

Box is free forever for individuals with a storage limit of up to 10 GB. For businesses, Box offers four plans:

Starter

  • $5 to $7 per user per month
  • Up to 10 users
  • Up to 100 GB
  • Single file upload size limit of 2 GB
  • Integration with standard office suites
  • Desktop and mobile access

Business

  • $15 to $20 per user per month
  • Unlimited users (minimum of 3)
  • Unlimited storage
  • Single file upload size limit of 5 GB
  • Advanced security reports
  • Data loss protection

Business Plus

  • $25 to $33 per user per month
  • Unlimited users (minimum of 3)
  • Unlimited storage
  • Single file upload size limit of 5 GB
  • Advanced administrative controls
  • Complete user activity tracking

Enterprise

  • $35 to $47 per user per month
  • Unlimited users (minimum of 3)
  • Unlimited storage
  • Single file upload size limit of 15 GB
  • Document watermarking
  • Compliant with HIPAA, HITECH, FedRAMP, and more

Box key features

  • Share files and collaborate on projects
  • Create notes, calendars, and more with templates
  • Access through the web browser or mobile app
  • Two-factor authentication and SSL encryption
  • Data-loss protection
  • Activity tracking in upper tiers
  • Integration with Office 365 and G Suite
  • Integrates with 1,400 third party apps

What makes Box different?

One way Box differentiates itself from all those other cloud storage solutions is simply through its target buyer. Box was made for the business world. It does serve consumers, but the consumer plans are extremely basic. It’s larger organizations that will appreciate Box’s powers in collaboration and enterprise-class security, including SSL, SSO and data-loss prevention.

For larger businesses, the fact that Box Business and Enterprise put no limits on users is a boon.

Another thing to note is that Box recently overhauled its interface, including a much needed redesign and additional controls for administrators. I have heard complaints in the past about Box’s user-unfriendliness, but it’s made leaps and bounds in improvements.

Box pros

Maintains workflow organization

Box easily performs the basic cloud storage backup and sync features that you’d expect from this type of service. But where Box really shines is through its ability to simplify workflow management and collaboration in your organization.

Through Box, you can share files with specific people, set up tasks for others to complete, make comments on files, and get notifications when others have made certain changes. You can securely invite both internal and external collaborators.

And if you’re already working in another ecosystem, you can migrate everything over without the need for file conversion. Box integrates with G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, and basically all other popular office suites, so it’s easy to track and continue to use older projects.

Extremely easy to use

Box works across a variety of platforms, so you’ll have no problem integrating it with your business’ systems. And it’s strong on both desktop and mobile, which makes it usable from anywhere.

Simply download the software on as many devices as you like. Once installed, it will create a subfolder called Box where you can store files locally, and they’ll be automatically copied to the cloud. Create subfolders inside your Box folder to organize files however you want.

Much-improved interface

As I mentioned earlier, Box is always delivering updates and improvements to its users, making the software ever easier to adopt and use.

Files are really well-organized with the most recently updated interface, with powerful search filters and the ability to drag key items into a Favorites tab for quick access.

Box has also introduced new built-in apps including notes, a calendar, and project management. You even can create a new Office or Google doc with the click of a button from within the main dashboard. Generally, you won’t have much trouble finding the features you need–which means less time spent on onboarding.

Scales as you grow

Are you a small business? You don’t want to pick a cloud service that fits your needs now, only to have to switch to a new service when you grow.

With Box, it’s easy to upgrade services as you onboard more users. And remember, there’s no limit on users or storage with the higher tiers.

Works well with 3rd party software

Box integrates with hundreds of apps. Beyond Office 365 and G Suite, you’ll have access to:

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Asana
  • DocuSign
  • Facebook
  • G Suite
  • Google Docs
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • MobileIron
  • Okta
  • Oracle NetSuite
  • PDF Reader
  • Salesforce
  • ShareVault
  • Slack
  • Splunk
  • Trello
  • Webex

These are just a few of the integrations on Box’s very, very long list.

And these integrations mean that Box is able to deliver features that aren’t natively built into the service, further improving your organization’s productivity. It’s adding new integrations all the time.

Like any tool, though, Box does have its drawbacks. Again, these are only drawbacks if you’re not leveraging Box for its intended use.

Box cons

Not great for companies of one

Only need access for one or two people? You’ll probably want to stick with either the free or Starter plan, but the downside to this is the significant limitations in storage capacity and file size.

If you’re small, or need cloud storage for personal projects, you might be better off looking elsewhere. The best tools Box offers just won’t be worth the cost for you. We’d recommend a free-forever tool like Notion or Google Drive.

Pricey compliance features

Need to protect business and customer data? Box is compliant with HIPAA, FedRAMP, and multiple ISO requirements, among others. Its encryption features are strong as well.

However, you can only access certain levels of data protection with the Enterprise plan. For a smaller business that doesn’t need the other Enterprise-level features, you’ll want to weigh the costs and benefits of paying Box’s highest rates just for compliance.

Slow performance issues reported

You might notice sluggish performance in Box from time to time. If you’re working with a lot of files and your Internet connection isn’t as secure or fast as it should be–when working remotely, for example–you’ll see some frustrating delays when uploading or downloading files. But they aren’t terribly common.

Conclusion: Here’s what we recommend

Should you buy it?

Yes, if your goal is to share, sync, and collaborate on files among a large group of employees and your native Microsoft (or other) storage ecosystem isn’t doing it for you. Box does make the process much easier, at a reasonable price for organizations that can afford to take full advantage of its services.

Who should buy it?

Although Box offers subscriptions at the consumer level, this is definitely a cloud service that works best for the larger business or enterprise. Especially larger groups that struggle to share files efficiently across all the different tools their employees are using or offices they’re working from. This is what Box was designed to consolidate.

Who should avoid it?

Box is one of the pricier cloud storage services on the market, though it does offer a host of collaborative features and services that justify its price for those who run busy environments.

That said, if you’re a business looking for something more affordable, I’d avoid Box and try Dropbox instead. Dropbox is more limited in terms of sharing capabilities, but it is Box’s closest competitor, is a little cheaper for businesses, and has diversified its core services beyond just storage.

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