With the new addition of Google Drive to the mix of already crowded cloud storage solutions I decided I should recap the advantages and disadvantages of each so our fellow REALTORS could make an educated decision as to which is best for them. My favorites are Dropbox, Box.com, and the New Google Drive. These are just the ones I have use, I am sure there are many more great options available. I picked these three because the all take care of a very specific thing that I needed done. Not many people have Google drive yet but we are going to talk about a few of the early impressions of the product.
The new and improved google docs is here, they call it Google drive. While it is new, it looks like it was built on the google docs frame work and should be fairly stable from the start. I am sure Google Drive will be rolling out new features as they go. One important feature that they are missing is the ability to share a HTML link in an email to another user. They do have an easy way to share files and as far was we can tell, you can share with as many people as you like. Something Box.com charges you a lot of extra money for.
Storage is free for the first 5 gigs, and if you want to get more you can get 25 gigs for only $2.49 a month. Need more still? How about 100 gigs for $4.99 a month. Google drive is also available for Google Apps, although I am a bit confused how much storage I get for the money.
The biggest thing Google Drive has going for it is Google Docs. It is great to be able to store your files in the cloud but creating them in the cloud is even better. Google Drive allows you to create a Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, or draw all in the cloud. This is handy because you can share files for other to edit without ever leaving the cloud. Build it, edit it, share it, send it, all in one place.
Lastly, the biggest thing Google Drive has going for it is that it is a google product. I just works with everything. They say an iOS app is coming out but most of it already works on iOS. Also, when I send a file to someone it says Google in the mail, not dropbox or box.com. Everyone knows Google and I think that will help Drive take off.
Box.com or formerly Box.net is by far the most robust platform. Box is big on security and takes great steps to know who is viewing documents. One of my favorite things about Box.com is that it will tell you when people view documents. This is very handy when submitting an offer. I submit offers via email with an HTML link to the contract, addenda, and letter form the lender. Because I am linking to files and not sending the actual file in the email, Box will capture the IP Address and time the file was opened. You can see exactly when the offer was viewed by the listing agent, and if they forward that link, exactly when the sellers view it as well. This is handy information to have for when the sellers are playing “hard to get a hold of”.
One time I submitted an offer and the listing agent told me the sellers were “out of town”. I usedwhatismyip.com to look up the physical address of the ip opening the file. Sure enough the sellers were sitting in their home looking at the file. That info came in handy while negotiating.
Box.com has a great apps for iPAD and iPHONE. Keeping all your documents with you at all times is really nice. Box also has a sync for windows and macs. Just dump your file into the folder on your computer and off it goes to the cloud and all your connected devices.
Box.com does have a one huge problem, price. The first 5 gigs is free, but limited use, i.e. no syncing, single sign on, or group collaboration. You really have to pay about $15 a month for a decent amount of functionality. At that price storage is a 1000GBs. Plenty of room for anything you need to store.
Dropbox is to cloud storage as Mary Kay is to skin care. Everyone needs a little of it and if you tell your friend we will give you more for free. Don’t get me wrong, Multi level marketing works great. It is the best way to get some free marketing. Dropbox is great too. It does exactly as claimed. You drop your stuff in the dropbox and it is sent out speeding across the internet to the cloud.
Like Box.com Dropbox allows you to share documents to anyone by sending them an HTML link. However I could not find any place where it would show me who or when the file was opened. So for the less sneaky agents this would do just fine. I also have the feeling that security is not as good as box.com. Sure you need a password to use either, but there is a reason more fortune 500 companies use Box over dropbox, and I think it has something to to with security.
The biggest advantage Dropbox has is that it connects with everything. It seems that dropbox has an easy way to connect with lots of apps. I have seen dropbox storage options in many programs and apps I use. That makes it just a little simpler to store files in the cloud. With one important exception for REALTORS. Dropbox does not work with Docusign for the iPAD like Box and Google Drive do. As a matter of fact, if you are using an iPad for real estate I think it make more sense to use Box.com’s app. Again, it is all about security.
Lastly we have to talk about price. Dropbox is reasonable on price, especially considering you can get extra free space for telling your friends. But when you get to the team or brokerage level prices start going up considerably and still you don’t get all the cool reporting that you would get with box.com
As for now I use all of them. Box.com for corporate file storage, Dropbox for some personal stuff, and Google Drive for those files we need to edit in the cloud. Our whole operation is built on Google apps so I think we will be leaning more toward Google Drive in the long run for bulk storage of document. The great thing about all three of these platforms is you can have all three. They all have free versions so it should not be a big deal to try them all out. We would love to know what is working best for you. Comment below and let us know.