Box, launched in 2005, is one of the oldest players in the cloud storage industry. The company solved basic file syncing and sharing long ago and has spent much of the past decade building out app integrations. Today, it boasts a huge variety of software integrations and business apps so that you can edit documents, connect with a CRM, manage finances, and more.
So, is Box the best cloud storage software for you? In our Box review, we’ll take a closer look at what this platform has to offer for individuals and businesses.
Box is built primarily for businesses, and most of the unique aspects of this cloud storage service are focused on productivity. To start, file sharing in Box is built for collaboration. Within the software, you can tightly control who has access to what files and folders and easily keep track of who has access to a project. You can also protect shared files with passwords and expiration dates, which is nice if you’re working with sensitive data.
What makes Box really stand out from the crowd, though, is that it offers more than 1,500 in-house and third-party apps. Take Box Notes, the company’s own team-centric note-taking app, called Box Notes. This simple document app enables multiple collaborators to edit a document simultaneously, which is a huge advantage if you’re not already working in a cloud office ecosystem like Google G Suite.
With Box apps, you can open, edit, and create files within your cloud storage space from a huge range of software platforms. For example, you can open files in your browser for editing with the Microsoft Word Online or Google Docs apps, e-sign PDFs with the Adobe Sign app, or communicate with team members from the cloud using the Slack app. The apps cover most popular business services, including major CRMs and Intuit financial software.
The Box interface is sleek and simple. In fact, it integrates so nicely with Windows and Mac operating systems that you’ll hardly notice it’s there. When you install the desktop software, Box places a sync folder on your hard drive. Anything you place inside the folder will be automatically kept in sync as changes are made across devices. For one-time backups to the cloud, you can simply right-click on files anywhere in your file explorer.
The desktop app enables you to choose whether you prefer to keep synced files online only to save space on your hard drive or whether they should be stored offline. Unfortunately, though, there isn’t an option to control the bandwidth that Box uses. Another thing to note is that the maximum upload size for a single file is 5 GB or less, depending on your Box plan.
The web interface is where most users will interact with Box most directly. You can easily navigate your files and create location shortcuts to more quickly access current projects. The web interface is also where you’ll find many of Box’s app integrations. It’s very straightforward to download new apps as needed from the app gallery, too.
Of course, Box also offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. These mimic the layout of the browser interface, giving you the ability to search through your file directory in the cloud and to use any of your app integrations. You can also set the app to automatically upload content from your device’s media folder to the cloud for instant backup of your photos and videos.
Box does an excellent job with security, offering all the tools we’d expect from a top-tier cloud storage service. All files are protected with 256-bit AES encryption, and you can turn on zero-knowledge, end-to-end encryption using an app integration. Be careful turning on that level of encryption, though, since even Box won’t be able to help you get into your account if you ever lose your password.
On top of that, Box enables you to use two-factor authentication for your account login. You can also view a detailed log of all file activity and logins on your account in case you’re worried about suspicious activity. For businesses, administrative users have an even wider range of auditing tools to stay on top of employees’ activities in the cloud.
Box offers plans for both individuals and businesses. Individual users can use Box for free up to 10 GB of storage, although file uploads are limited to 250 MB. For $10 per month, the Personal Pro plan offers 100 GB of storage and 5 GB uploads. That’s pretty expensive for not a lot of storage compared to the individual plans offered by other providers.
Box’s business plans are much more attractive. The Starter plan costs $5 per user per month and offers 100 GB of storage per user, but only enables collaboration within teams of 10 people or fewer. The Business plan costs $15 per user per month and upgrades you to unlimited storage and unlimited collaboration. You also get one enterprise app integration and access to the admin console. The Business Plus plan, for $25 per user per month, is essentially the same except that you get three enterprise apps. For unlimited integrations, the Enterprise plan costs $35 per month.
Box is one of the best cloud storage solutions for businesses. Its integration with a wide variety of popular enterprise software through apps and its focus on cloud collaboration are key features for teams of any size. Plus, it offers the level of data security that companies working with sensitive data of any kind need to operate safely.
That said, we wouldn’t recommend Box for individuals. While the interface is easy enough to use, the plan options are limited and expensive.