Box Business Plus review
Business cloud collaboration at its best, with unlimited storage, tight security and great management features
Box is one of the most capable file-sharing services on the market, offering a great range of cloud collaboration features. Those come at a price, mind you: the Business Plus version on review costs £20 per user each month, with a modest 5% discount if you pay yearly.
Still, we can’t complain too much when every user gets a classy selection of file-sharing and syncing services, and unlimited cloud storage. Or, to be precise, there’s no limit on total usage; – there’s a 5GB limit on the size of each uploaded item, which is a long way short of Citrix ShareFile’s 100GB cap, but for the average small business that won’t be a problem at all.
Administrators, meanwhile, get a wealth of management tools, with features including user activity tracking and enhanced reporting. If your business has data residency requirements, you can take advantage of the Box Zones add-on, which lets you choose precisely where your files will be stored. Options include AWS in London and Azure in Cardiff, with pricing starting at £4 per month – although you should note that Box Zones is only available to customers with a minimum of ten users.
To set users up on Box, you simply send each one an email invitation from the Box admin portal. After they have accepted, they will be able to log in to their personal cloud portal, view their cloud folders, create new ones and invite colleagues to share their contents. Box lets you finely specify exactly what sort of access each collaborator should have, with seven permission levels ranging from view-only to co-owner.
It’s also possible to securely share files with collaborators outside of the company, by enabling the Share Link option and sending an email. If you want to receive a file from someone else, you can generate a secure link that allows them to upload a file directly to your cloud folder.
One aspect of Box that’s a bit confusing is the way it presents a choice of two different client apps to download. Box Sync provides standard syncing services between a user’s local folder and their cloud repository to ensure all versions are kept up to date, while Box Drive aims to save local hard disk space by keeping all your folders in the cloud – although you can select specific files and folders for offline access. It may not be obvious to a user which one they should install, and the two apps won’t coexist on the same system so a little support might be necessary to help people get the right client.
You might also be disappointed to discover that, although you can grant folder access to an unlimited number of collaborators – including those outside of your organisation – each one needs their own Box account to access the share.
On the plus side, Box can do some very clever and useful things. File versioning is included as standard: Starter subscriptions get access to 25 old versions, while Business Plus customers get 50 versions and the Enterprise tier ups the limit to 100. The free Box Tools utility lets you edit documents in the cloud, too – a clever trick, although it’s a bit annoying that Microsoft Edge isn’t currently supported.
Then there’s the free Box Relay Lite automation tool, which lets you create simple workflows that can, for example, move newly uploaded files from one folder to another, or ask another user for approval. On top of all this, the Business Plus subscription also supports up to three SaaS integrations with external apps, such as Slack and Salesforce.
The choice of desktop apps may confuse users, but overall Box is an excellent package of cloud file-sharing and collaboration services. The Business Plus plan is expensive, but if you want top-notch security, an insight into user activity and the ability to choose where their data resides, it’s very hard to beat.
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