Box vs. Dropbox

Box and Dropbox are two of the most popular cloud storage programs. So here at Software Advice, we decided to put them to the test. While they have many similarities, there are some important differences in features and functionality. Here’s what we found.

The Basics




If it were a celebrity it would be...

An unapologetic corporate guy...

An advocate for the Everyman...

Who it's for:

Collaborative cloud storage for the enterprise.

Cloud storage made easy enough for anyone.

Word on the street:

Document creation and collaboration features are great for business, but syncing is slow and it’s not as tailored for multimedia.

Easy for anyone to store and organize photos, but synchronization can hog resources and skeptics question security vulnerabilities.

Storage & Pricing:

Maximum file size:

  • Personal: 250 MB
  • Business: 2 GB
  • Enterprise: 5 GB
  • Desktop or mobile apps: Unlimited
  • Using website: 300 MB


  • Enterprise-class security, including SSL, SSO and data-loss prevention.
  • Robust integrations with enterprise apps, such as Salesforce and Google Apps.
  • Compliance with industry-specific regulations, such as HIPAA in healthcare.
  • In-program document creation and collaborative editing capabilities for teams.
  • Easy to use, with an interface most anyone can understand.
  • Free and relatively fast syncing of files even with the most basic plan.
  • Graduated pricing levels fit the needs of individuals and smaller organizations.
  • Robust photo and video presentation and sharing, including HTML5 streaming.


  • Enterprise sophistication requires a more complex user interface - could be confusing.
  • Emphasis on business documents means less robust photo and video capabilities.
  • No LAN sync and some users report challenges with syncing.
  • Limited support for photos and videos (e.g. no sync of photos to phones).
  • Not a collaborative editing platform, if that’s what you’re looking for.
  • Not everyone has a strong subfolder taxonomy, so finding files can be difficult.
  • Limited integrations to business apps, despite a good application programming interface (API).
  • Lacks enterprise-class security capabilities and has had a few security blunders here and there.

According to the CEO:

“We’re a 100 percent enterprise-focused company, and all the technology we're building goes towards asking how do we make it easier or more scalable, or simpler.”

“We’re solving really important problems for a big chunk of the world... our users are trapeze artists, high school football coaches.”

Summary Ratings

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Sharing and access:

Technology and syncing:

Document Collaboration:


Device authorization:

Mobile support:

User experience:

Photo and video:

Versions, archiving and audit trail:

Support and help:

Sharing & Access Permissions

Click/hover over a rating for more information.




Share a folder within a shared folder:

Control what users can share with others:

Transfer ownership of a folder to others:

Share with people who don’t have an account:

Each user can name shared folders differently:

Deleting a shared file/folder deletes it globally:

Quickly unshare everything for one user:

Wiping content from unshared user:

∧ See Ratings Summary

Technology and Syncing




LAN syncing:

Free syncing:

Application integration:

Get the team together on that big presentation through integration with apps like Salesforce, Google Docs and Outlook.

Show your friends your vacation photos through integration with apps like Flickr and Facebook.


Fully customizable API; Box applications can provide:

  • File Management: Syncing files, editing files, editing pictures within Box, sending Box files as Gmail attachments and more.
  • Sharing: Files can be shared via email as attachments, or selectively shared using links.
  • Collaboration: Password-controlled access is available for individual files and folders so that users can share certain files for editing.

Dropbox provides the following APIs:

  • Dropbox Chooser: A small piece of JavaScript code that allows integration of Dropbox with your web app.
  • Sync API: Allows your app to do online and offline syncing, including caching, retrying and file change notifications.
  • Core API: Allows you to build your own app with Dropbox features in it like sharing, editing, reading, searching and more.
∧ See Ratings Summary

Document Collaboration

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Create and edit documents in-program:

Simultaneous collaboration:

Download documents created in-program:

Collaborate with outside users:

∧ See Ratings Summary


Click/hover over a rating for more information.




Single sign-on (SSO):

Two-factor authentication:

Integration with data loss prevention systems:

Email validation when logging in from new IP address:

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption:

SSAE 16 Type II compliant data centers:

HIPAA compliance:

Multiple backup data centers:

Password-protect documents or folders:

∧ See Ratings Summary

Device Authorization

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View all devices connected to account:

Control active device sessions from web:

Remotely disconnect your device:

Remotely disconnect a user’s device:


Link account to user’s device:


Set number of allowable linked devices:

∧ See Ratings Summary

Mobile Support

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Devices supported:




Windows Phone


BlackBerry PlayBook

Kindle Fire

Files stored on mobile devices:

Upload all file types on mobile:

View files:

Share files:

Download files:

Invite collaborators:

Select content to view offline:

Document editing and collaboration:

Stream video:

Store content from all mobile apps in cloud:

App comes pre-loaded:

Certain HP devices come with the Windows 8 Box app pre-loaded.

Certain Samsung and HTC smartphones come with the Dropbox app pre-loaded.

∧ See Ratings Summary

User Experience




Home screen:

Document preview:

N/A: Can only preview images, not documents; simple one­click downloading from image preview.

Drag-and-drop downloading:

Drag-and-drop uploading:

One-click uploading:

Home screen and navigation:

  • Home screen lists all files and folders; files without designated folder appear here.
  • Top-of-screen navigation to jump directly to a given folder, audit trail, collaborators, messages or integrated apps.
  • Can share, comment, edit, preview or add tags to a document from file/folder view.
  • All files open in preview mode, where you can comment or assign tasks.
  • Can sort files and folders by name, date, time or size.
  • Relatively clean but less intuitive layout and navigation.
  • Home screen lists all files and folders; files without designated folder appear here.
  • Easy sidebar navigation to jump directly to photos, shared folder list, audit trail and links you’ve created or received.
  • Can share, rename or move a document from file view.
  • Only photo and video files open in preview mode; all other types automatically download when selected.
  • Can sort files and folders by ascending or descending name, type, extension or size.
  • Clean, simple and easy-to-understand layout and navigation.

Glitches in the system:

  • Sometimes uploads do not sync, or syncing will just stop altogether.
  • Some users report lags in response time when using integrated apps.
  • Sometimes when you unshare a folder with a user, it kicks you out, too.
  • Some Business users report files within shared folders disappearing.
∧ See Ratings Summary

Photo and Video

Click/hover over a rating for more information.




Dedicated photo viewer:

In full-screen preview:

Photo navigation:

Photos sent to designated location:

Photo albums:

Stream all video types:

Free and fast video uploading:

∧ See Ratings Summary

Versions, Archiving and Audit Trail

Click/hover over a rating for more information.




Past file versions can be viewed and recovered:

Number of past versions saved:

Varies by plan.

Varies by plan.

Revisions count against your storage quota:

Delete a file or folder permanently:

Audit trail:

∧ See Ratings Summary

Support and Help

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Email support:

Phone support:

Web self-service support:

∧ See Ratings Summary

The Corporate Stuff




Total users:

15 million

175 million

Total customers:

About 450,000

About 4 million

Business customers:


3 million


$1.2 billion

$4 billion

Capital raised:

$287 million

$257 million




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