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Dropbox for Business grows more security, IT admin muscles

Juan Carlos Perez | July 24, 2014
The workplace version of the popular cloud storage service competes against offerings from Google, Microsoft, Box and others.

Dropbox will continue beefing up the business version of its cloud storage and file sharing service, adding security features to shared links, full-text search capabilities and new tools for enterprise developers.

For Dropbox content shared via links, it will now be possible for users to require a password for access to the content and set an expiration date for the link. This feature can be turned on by Dropbox admins now for their end users.

In the coming months, Dropbox for Business will also gain a full-text search engine, an upgrade over the current search feature which is limited to querying file names.

Dropbox is also extending its improved Microsoft Office document preview capabilities to its Android application, so that users can check out a file without necessarily downloading it, the company plans to announce on Wednesday.

For developers, Dropbox is releasing two new APIs (application programming interfaces). The Shared Folder API makes the core functions of shared folders available to third-party apps and tools. Meanwhile, the Document Preview API lets developers embed this feature into their applications.

Dropbox recently announced that users of its business edition will be able to share folders with colleagues in read-only mode, whereas before all collaborators got edit rights to the content. This feature can also be turned on today by Dropbox admins.

Dropbox, which has about 300 million end users, is immensely popular among consumers, but it's trying to elbow its way into the fiercely competitive enterprise market for cloud storage and file sync and sharing services.

"We're taking the simplicity and ease of use of our core product and marrying it with IT admin controls in Dropbox for Business," said Ilya Fushman , head of product for Dropbox for Business.

About 80,000 businesses pay for Dropbox for Business, which costs US$15 per user/month, for a minimum of 5 users, and features unlimited storage capacity. It came out of its beta testing period in April. The company declines to say how many people use Dropbox for Business.

Dropbox in its different editions is used to varying degrees in about 4 million businesses, according to the company. The Basic edition is free and includes 2GB of storage, while the Pro edition ranges from $9.99 per month for 100GB to 500GB for $49.99 per user/month.

Other Dropbox for Business IT administration controls include the ability to remotely wipe Dropbox files from employee devices, to track how and with whom users share files via audit logs, and to transfer control of employee accounts.

IT administrators also can control whether employees can share files with external users and delegate to end users the decision of whether a particular file or folder can be shared externally or not.


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