Late in 2014, the old O:\ drive, which was considered our trusty old, in-house file server was laid to rest, in favour of Dropbox for Business. While we remember O:\ drive fondly, we’ve not looked back as Dropbox has provided speed, efficiency and reliability at roughly the same cost as the energy bill for our old friend.
In this IRMatters post, we summarise our experience for the benefit of other small businesses considering their options.
Prior to 2014 IRM had been sharing files amongst its team using the kind of shared disk drive, hosted on internal servers that is common to many businesses. The ubiquitous O: drive. It held everything we needed to know about our clients and ourselves.
Of course, after 10 years or so the folder structure was a bit of a mess, the processes followed by successive generations of staff were not always consistent, and the physical disk it was on never seemed to be big enough. A separate, different drive sprung up for archived files, and our Graphic Design team seemed reluctant to share some of their bigger art files, for reasons of speed and accessibility – so another separate disk seemed a good idea.
We were worried about backup, so there were various backup copies kept around, though no-one was really sure or trusted that, so we all kept private copies of important stuff – on our C: drives of course, insecure and not backed up. Of course the shared drive was not available as soon as you stepped outside the office (unless you logged on through the VPN, but that was a whole ‘nother story). The IT staff kept on top of this and could keep it going – when they were in the office of course, and not at meetings or busy with other projects.
There really did have to be a better way.
Enter DropBox for Business!
Yes it did take a while to move our terabyte of data to the cloud – but it really was less than a month of part time activity. We did it section by section and tidied up the file structure while we were at it. We now have 14Tb of space, only 7% of which is being used right now. And for a couple of hundred dollars a month, it’s less than the electricity bill for the server on which the O: drive sat!
Each individual staff member decides which folders are automatically synched to their computer’s C: drive. Fast moving files are available locally, and the full file set is accessible through the web browser or by adjusting syncing. Clients can access their shared folders. We can provide subsets of working file folders to consultants, meaning we can give them more file management accountability, which results in less version control issues. Once again, we’re freed from the office and life is better!
Backups? We forget about that. Dropbox runs on Amazon Web Services and there is simply no concern about lost files. Accidental deletion? Never mind, Dropbox for Business keeps all historical versions of every file. Yes, all – the lot, for ever. No extra charge.
It’s not without its issues, but they are easily managed and will no doubt improve over time as Dropbox upgrade their software.
With no effort from us, we’re in good company and can leave them to their business while we run ours.