July 30, 2012, 12:27 PM — The cloud delivers convenience, and nothing is more convenient than synchronizing files stored on multiple computers and accessing those files from any PC, smartphone, or tablet with Internet access. We tested the top five syncing services.
Anyone can register an account with Box and begin using it for free, but to take advantage of its robust collaboration and security features, you must open a paid Business or Enterprise acÂÂcount starting at $15 per month, per user (minimum of three users). Paying unlocks a truckload of enhancements, including Google Apps integration and other tools that business users will find practical. The user-admin console, for example, lets an IT administrator add users and manage their settings in bulk.
Personal accounts of up to 5GB are free; if you need more space, Box offers 25GB for $10 per month and 50GB for $20 per monththats the least bang for the buck among the five services in this category. With a Personal account, you can share your files with other people, with or without giving them editing privileges, and you can restrict sharing to collaborators only. Box also provides the option of restricting file previews or downloads, but youre not allowed to set passwords or automatic expiration dates unless you have a paid account.
Simplicity is one of Dropboxs greatest strengths. Install the service on your PC, and it plops a virtual folder on your desktop. The folder acts just as any other folder does, except that it automatically uploads and syncs the files that you put in it to your online account. Changes upload in real time, so you need never worry about working with an outdated file.
On a free account, you get only 2GB of storage. If you want more, you have to pony up for a paid account; prices range from $10 per month for 100GB to $50 per month for 500GB. Pestering your family and friends to open accounts will earn you a 500MB bonus per referral, up to an additional 16GB.