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Do You Dropbox? A Look at Cloud Storage

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Pop. Lock. And drop it.

Here at Digital Surgeons, we drop our working projects into the big (somewhat scary) virtual box. The Dropbox. We place an absurd amount of confidence in this hosting service - because it’s given us no reason not to. And we love it. It’s like an all-access meal plan in college. Or the fast pass at Disney. If you don’t use Dropbox, you’ve at least heard about cloud based file storage or use a similar service like GoogleDrive, BOX.net, BitCasa or Hightail (formally YouSendIt). We have a business account with Dropbox, providing a good amount of space to access and share our files within - anytime, anywhere with anyone.

But what IF?

As we cautiously approach thunder and lightning, should we question the security, privacy and reliability of this cloud system in a business setting? Even with the most advanced, latest and greatest technology of today, there are always risks. And it turns out Dropbox does have some skeletons in the closet with 2 security breaches having occurred since 2011. But secure, in-house servers crash. Hard drives fail. Hackers create backdoors. Nosey co-workers click through files they have nothing to do with. According to research done by the Ponemon Institute, 60% of organizations have employees who frequently or very frequently put confidential files on cloud based services without permission. And the same percentage say that controls in place are ineffective at managing who has access to sensitive files. It can be scary. But not scary enough to keep away the users who place 600-million “work-files” on Dropbox every work week. There’s a reason for that. Most technology services go through risky phases. But it is risk that makes greatness. It is when cons are so insanely outweighed by pros that risk is worthwhile.

We don’t care. We love it.

Cheryl, our Search Marketing Director, loves not having to worry about which computer she saved the latest version of a project on or waiting for attachments to fail loading to an email. “Pretty much everything I have is in my Dropbox,” she says. “It’s all there - wherever I go.” BJ, our Business Development Director sees great value in the storage capability and in everybody knowing where the latest file versions are located. Design Intern, Hannah, especially sees the benefits of transferring and sharing the large files she works with. “It’s so easy just to drag and drop.” And Chris, our Tech Lead, is also a huge fan. He’s actually done a good job formalizing our folder structures and creating a file management system for DS so that our Dropbox is navigable. He would advise that the time and energy spent organizing definitely saves you (and those you’re collaborating with) from later frustrations. So you know how we feel about Dropbox. We’re not going to find a more secure and convenient option that everybody is so comfortable with that’s for sure.

Okay Fine. Policy Placement.

Did you ever get the lowdown on your company’s policies regarding the Dropbox or other cloud services? Probably not. The statistics presented through this infographic suggest that employees are not receiving appropriate training for the technologies advancing rapidly within the workforce. Three out of four administrative professionals say that the most significant issue they face at work is keeping up with changing technology. It’s easy for us tech-geeks at DS to say, but there really are bigger issues in the world that we need to focus on fixing. Clear communication and fair preparation can help employees understand how to best utilize technology such as cloud services. You CAN embrace the opportunity for reliable, instant, virtual collaboration with very few limitations. We recommend it. In terms of Dropbox usage at DS or any other professional setting that does it right, what it comes down to is clear communication of expectations and procedures throughout the file transfer process.

Despite what you think, you do have control and can plan ahead to prevent prospective issues. We advise that before you start sharing and providing Dropbox access to other employees, get together and talk about risks. Should everyone have separate company dropbox accounts? What kind of file management will everybody agree to follow? How should approval be granted for sharing outside of the company? Discuss how Dropbox will help you all collaborate more efficiently but requires teamwork to keep files organized and protected. Talk about the expectations for cloud usage and think about putting rules of acceptable use in writing as you do with other office technology. Consider whether or not those you are sharing company files with have signed an NDA. Definitely take a look at your company culture before you create a policy but recognize the value in clear communication of expectations.

Keep Calm. And Dropbox on.

So we’re all about efficiency and totally dig Dropbox. Maybe it takes just a little bit of anxiety and an adrenaline rush to realize the prospective consequences. That moment you remember you instantly shared the wrong version of a file with your boss - the one where you wrote “SCREW THIS” all over one of the slides. Okay, that sucks. But, Dropbox or a similar system will find a way to be effective within your company. Especially if you’re not sure whether you’re going to want to pull up that presentation on your iPad, smartphone, desktop computer at work or laptop at home. Why not just have it ready for instant access on all of them? This service helps you focus on what you need to, whenever you want to, wherever you are. Moves right with our industry’s pace and is synced with our multitasking minds. Thank goodness.

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