Box.net Makes Document Sharing Easy, But Still Can't Compete With Google Docs For Live Collaboration

Box.net title image

Box.net is often compared to online storage services like Dropbox, and we’re not sure why.

The real strength of Box.net is in its document collaboration tools; it essentially works like Google Docs, except with many more features and an excellent mobile app.

When you sign up for the free version of Box.net, you are allotted 5GB of space (like many other online services these days), but there’s a glaring problem here: none of your files are allowed to exceed 25 MB in size.

Even if you purchase the $15.00/month business package, your file size cap is 2GB (no storing high-def movies, lossless music, and videos for free here). 

Regardless, Box.net seems like it’s aiming to please small business owners with its extensive sharing, collaboration, and file version-tracking features. In this department, Box.net beats competitors handily. Google Docs will always have an edge, though, because it includes online document editing in just about any format. With Box.net, you have to download each document, edit it, then re-upload it.

Once you sign up, you'll be prompted to create a folder that you can share with others, or that you can keep private.

When you create a new document, invite a collaborator to make changes and read the document. No matter who makes changes, Box.net will show an update list that shows times when someone did so.

After you create a folder, you are free to upload files into it and share the folder with others.

When you upload a file to Box.net, a progress bar appears at the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, you have to wait until the upload is complete before you can do anything on the website again.

If you click the arrow next to any file you've uploaded, you can share the file, sync it to your desktop (a Premium feature, while this feature is free with DropBox), and more.

Add tags to your documents and files to help keep track of projects

Another feature we like is the ability to invite document collaborators using a link if you'd like.

The iOS app works well enough for viewing pictures stored online, but the experience isn't very immersive. Playing music was painful, because you can't exit the app while listening (vs. competitors like SugarSync).

Lastly, here's the App Marketplace. You can find a variety of apps and plugins to enhance the Box.net experience. The Google Apps plugin integrates Box.net with Google Docs, and the Salesforce plugin lets you access your Box.net files from within Salesforce.

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