Box: Collaborate on the Go

The number of online file storage solutions is on a meteoric rise. That’s a good thing in two ways: first, the buzz they generate is creating a lot of awareness about the importance of backing up files before the disaster strikes; second, they make secure and redundant storage space available at throwaway prices.

Dropbox is the crowd favorite, but is pricey if you try to add more storage. Equally good competing apps are available in the market at affordable prices and Box is a pioneering dark horse. Box lets you store all of your content online, so you can access, manage and share it from anywhere. Let’s see how best it can be put to use while on the go!

Getting Started

A free Box account offers you 5 GB of space – and if you don’t already have one, you can create one instantly from the app itself. The app supports single sign on too, as one of the enterprise level features.

Signing In and Folder Structure

Signing In and Folder Structure

Those of us who already have files uploaded via the web interface get to see them all as soon as we log in. The file and folder structures are all intact with timestamps of the last update and
the number of files inside them. Besides the timestamp, individual files are tagged with their file sizes to help if they need to be downloaded over Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.

Folders and Files

With Box you can create as many folders as you please and fill them up with files. Tap the Add Folder icon at the lower right corner, give it a name and your virtual data container is ready for use. In the same way, tapping the icon next to it lets you create files (audio, video, and photo).

Creating Files and Folders

Creating Files and Folders

Curiously, two important features are missing. One is the inability to create a text file; as this is one of the common file types around, it would be great if the app allowed to create notes on the fly. The other is the ability to move files to other folders; it’s not a deal breaker, but would make for a nice addition.

Updates Tab and File Actions

Updates Tab and File Actions

If you have a bunch of files in your account and are collaborating with many in your team at the same time, it might be frustrating to find the files you are currently working on. Instead of making you rummage through folders, the Box team has smartly created the Updates tab. From here, you can see which files and folders are active and are being constantly updated with changes, comments, new uploads and so on.

Working With Files

There are so many file level operations at your disposal. To start with, you can download and store it locally for quick, offline access. Thankfully, the app also lets you choose where to store the file on your mobile phone. Looking for a way to share the file? Forget the cumbersome process of sending it as an email attachment. Just tap Share and send a direct link to access the file instead!

Sharing Files and Adding Comments

Sharing Files and Adding Comments

The Comments feature should help you share feedback with your team. It’s just a basic commenting system without any bells and whistles, but it works.

Downloading and Accessing Files

Downloading and Accessing Files

I was impressed with the brilliant implementation of the document access flow. As soon as you access a file, the app not only downloads it, but also finds the right app to open it. For instance, I accessed a PDF file and, after downloading it, Box automatically opened the file in Adobe Reader. And if there is more than one app available to read a particular format, you can select the one you like from a prompt. Neat, isn’t it?

Final Thoughts

I’ve just scratched the surface of Box’s capabilities. It’s a great companion for individuals and small teams to store and work on files wherever they are. If you work at a big enterprise, there are a lot of additional perks including Salesforce and Google Apps integration.

I created a Box account a while ago but didn’t use it for a long time. Then they came up with a promo, offering mobile users 50 GB of free space, and I grabbed it instantly. From that point, I’ve started using Box extensively and have found it to be a dynamite app both on the desktop and mobile.

File uploads are blazing fast and the web app supports drag and drop to save you a ton of time. The built in document reader is a killer addition which elevates Box from a dumb virtual storage unit to a dependable collaboration service. In the recent months, I have become a fan of Box across all platforms and it has my personal seal of approval!


Summary

Box provides simple, secure sharing from anywhere, letting you easily store files online

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