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Nothing about Box is basic or generic – it’s definitely a feature-heavy cloud service tool designed to provide a first-rate user experience . Everything from its ultra-modern user interface to its thousands of app integrations hits the nail on the head.
Although optimized for business use, Box also offers individual and team plans. Regardless of what plan you’re on, you’ll be able to access your files from several locations: the web app, your desktop (Box Sync), and mobile. I used all three apps and found them intuitively designed and very straightforward to use.
I have to admit that I was impressed by most of Box’s offerings, but I did run into a few snags as I tried out some of its features. While Box is relatively popular and well-known, that doesn’t mean it’s suitable for everyone that needs cloud storage.
If you’re curious about Box but don’t have the time to test it out yourself, you’re in luck. I took a close look at Box’s backup speeds, privacy and security features, and other key aspects, and here’s what I found.
More Than Your Average Cloud Storage
Data Server Locations
Canada, Ireland, Germany, Japan, US, UK, Singapore, Australia
Backup and Restore Options
Backup status reports, offline restore option, mirror-image backup
Limits and Restrictions
Limits on file size, fair use limits, no bandwidth throttling
Applications and Operating Systems
Windows 7 and later, macOS X 10.12x and later, iOS and Android mobile apps
Box has a lot to offer, and it never skimps on resources. I was continuously impressed by both its features and how easy it was to use. Some of its most advanced features, like embedding widgets for files and assigning tasks to team members, are available on the free plan.
Saving your data is as easy as setting up a new backup through the web dashboard. From here, you can select the file or folder that you want to upload, and a progress status bar will pop up at the bottom of the screen.
There aren’t any file type restrictions when you backup for data with Box, but you will need to be careful about file names. In general, your file or folder name should be 255 characters or less and not contain any non-printable characters like white spaces, backslashes, forward slashes, or periods.
Box also has a sync feature for your desktop. After you download the desktop app, you can add files directly from your desktop into the folder, which is then automatically synced to Box’s servers. After using the sync function, I could view files in the synced folder that were no longer stored on my computer.
30 to 90 Days to Restore Data
When it comes to restoring your data, you have a few options in the Trash menu. If you need to restore individual folders or files, then you can use the single restore option available for each file or folder. But if you’d like to restore all the data that’s been deleted, you can simply click Restore All. If you’d like to restore data to a new device, you can use the web app.
Box has an automatic 30 day retention period. If you have a Business or Enterprise account, you have up to 90 days to retrieve your data. There’s also a Box Governance add-on, that provides more retention options and can be purchased separately.
Advanced Security Features… On Paid Plans
Like other cloud storage services, Box uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect your files at rest. It also uses TLS 1.2 encryption to secure files in transit and a key-wrapping strategy that also uses 256-bit AES encryption for an added layer of protection.
For the mobile app, you have the option of requiring a password and choosing whether you want to remain logged in, but that’s the extent of your mobile security.
From the desktop app, you’ll be able to restrict access to shared files, set up two-step verification, and view your login history. You can also “forget all apps,” which will log you out of any applications that you may be signed into.
Box’s security features seem airtight, but I wish that the free plan had better options. An advanced security report that summarizes collaborator actions, geographic activity, and active shared links is also available – but only on paid plans.
Ease of use
Simple, Easy to Navigate Interface
Box has an incredibly modern interface, which can’t be said of many of its competitors. With a recently upgraded UI and Collections, a quick and easy way to organize files and folders, using Box is incredibly simple.
Collaborate and Revise with Notes
Box Notes is Box’s internal document center, designed to help you create and manage everything from meeting notes to projects plans and newsletters. When it comes to ease of use, this feature definitely stands out.
You have the option of creating a blank note or choosing from a few different templates. From agendas to calendars to project plans, I could tell that Box’s design team put effort into developing useful templates that are practical and easy to edit.
The notes you create can be printed, shared, and even added to Collections. Collaborators can leave comments and tag specific team members – concurrently and in real time. One of my favorite aspects of this feature is the ability to keep track of each note’s version history.
You can even revert to a previous version or track changes that have been made by other team members.
Fulfill Compliance Requests in Seconds
One major area that cloud storage hosts need to address is compliance management, which includes data retention, file versioning, and legal hold policies. Box Governance, which I mentioned earlier, is Box’s answer to this.
If you need confidential client information destroyed after a certain period, this feature allows you to set a fixed retention period, including 90 days, 10 years, or a custom time frame. In the event that you are obligated to retain a client’s information without a clear ending date, you can also choose to store data indefinitely.
For companies that manage multiple client contracts, being able to set (and forget) a retention requirement is incredibly useful.
Integrate Thousands of Apps
Although there are countless cloud storage solutions available, only a handful are equipped for app integration. With Box Integration, you have access to well-known apps and services like Salesforce, Google Workspace, DocuSign, Okta, and Adobe. Apps are sorted into categories, like Annotation and Content Management, and there are thousands to choose from.
Since I primarily use Gmail, the app integration I used the most allowed me to send file and folder links through Gmail via the desktop app. To view spreadsheets without having to navigate outside of Box, I also connected to a Microsoft Excel previewer.
When it comes to ease of use, Box is definitely one of the most convenient and integrated cloud storage tools on the market.
Three Apps to Access Your Account
You can sign up with Box directly on the home page. If you aren’t signing up for a paid plan, you’ll just need to fill in your name, email, and password to create your account. Setting up my free account took no time at all. Every paid plan (except for the Personal Pro plan) offers a 14-day free trial, but you can subscribe right away.
After I created my account, I downloaded Box’s desktop app, Sync, and signed in. The Box Sync folder is automatically stored on the desktop, and syncing can be turned off at any time. Not all of my files automatically synced, but through the web app, I was able to manually select the files I wanted to sync.
The process is a bit technical and requires some intermediate level coding skills, but if your most-used folder is My Documents, you can redirect this folder to be used as Box’s default sync location.
You don’t have many options with the desktop app, so I mostly used it when I didn’t want to open the web app to sync or upload local files. Once I’d connected my phone to Box through the mobile app, I was fully set up and able to access my files from multiple devices.
Speedy – But Limited – Backups
The backups I ran with Box were quick, but I encountered a few issues during my upload since I was using the free plan. With the free plan, there’s a limit of 250MB per file (which is disappointingly low), so not all of the files in my folder could be uploaded without a plan upgrade. This meant that, at first, only 2.16GB of my 3.6GB folder was uploaded.
I wanted to assess how Box handled a 3GB upload, so I removed the larger files and replaced them with smaller ones until I got my desired folder size. I wanted to see if the time of day or the day of the week affected upload speeds, so I conducted multiple uploads across several days.
Before I started my backups, I tested my Wi-Fi upload and download speeds. I have high-speed internet, so I averaged 170Mbps for downloads and was a bit slower for uploads, which came in at 157Mbps.
My first test was on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. and I tracked my upload with a stopwatch. My entire folder was complete in just 6 minutes and 36 seconds. Given that I’m over 3,000 miles away from the closest server (I live in Trinidad and Tobago), the upload was surprisingly quick.
I ran my second test on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and it took just 5 minutes and 53 seconds to upload my folder. I was experiencing slightly faster Wi-Fi speeds, which may explain why it took less time. My final test was on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. and, even though it was a weekend, the upload was the fastest of them all. It took just 5 minutes and 36 seconds for the entire folder to upload.
From these results, I can conclude that if you’re using Box with a high-speed internet connection, a 3GB folder shouldn’t take more than 7 or 8 minutes to fully upload.
Once my upload tests were finished, I restored the same folder to my computer. It took only 6 minutes and 46 seconds to download the folder as a zipped (compressed) file – which is likely Box’s default format to help reduce download times. Box definitely scores high when it comes to performance. My only real gripe is the low file size limitation for the free plan.
Multinational Privacy Law Compliance
Box is EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Framework compliant, along with complying with the Binding Corporate Rules, APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules, APEC Privacy Recognition for Processors, and the California Consumer Privacy Act.
Two Box products, Governance and Zones (for multinational corporations), are also GDPR compliant for companies located in the EU. It’s also HIPAA and HITECH compliant for companies that are in the medical or health fields.
What does all of this mean? Since Box is compliant with US privacy laws, it is under the jurisdiction of Five Eyes and the Patriot Act. Its compliance with international privacy laws means that it can and will surrender information requested by authorized governmental organizations, even if those bodies are foreign-based.
Extensive Customer Support
Box Support is made up of how-to videos, training resources, community forums, ticket support, and live chat. There’s even a feedback center designed for customer suggestions.
In addition to live chat, you can also find hundreds of articles that cover all of Box’s available products. The search feature makes it easy to sift through articles and, if you need further help, you can also check the community forum. Every support case that you submit appears in the My requests section, along with chat transcripts and case status.
When I contacted support via the live chat feature to find out more about retention periods, I was connected with a knowledgeable, friendly customer support member who walked me through the set up. I was sent a full transcript of the conversation once the chat ended, which proved useful when I needed to refer back to it a few days later.
Costly, but Worth It
Unlike some other popular cloud storage solutions, Box offers both a free plan and a free trial period for paid plans. Box has two individual plans and four business plans, with the cheapest personal plan starting at $31.50 per month. Plans can be purchased monthly or annually, but you’ll save drastically by choosing the annual option.
Box’s individual plans include the free plan, and two paid plans called Personal Pro and Business Starter (which is best suited for a team). Business plans are priced per month/per user. There’s a three user minimum (there doesn’t appear to be an upper limit on the number of users allowed) and these plans do fall on the pricey side.
If you’re using Box for your business and don’t need features like custom branding and data loss protection, the Business Starter plan is a good bet. However, if you do want these features – and others, like unlimited storage, enterprise app integrations, and Admin Console access – you’ll have to opt for a more expensive plan.
Box accepts payments via credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover). Business and enterprise accounts can also pay by wire transfer, check, and ACH . It also accepts payments in multiple currencies, including USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, JPY, and AUD.
Most of Box’s cloud backup solutions are designed to improve and enhance workflow in critical areas. In most areas, it lived up to – and surpassed – my expectations.
Its features are incredibly useful, the user interface is modern and straightforward to use, customer support is quick to respond and knowledgeable, and accessing and viewing my files is easy, thanks to access across several apps. Overall, I found Box super simple to use and full of impressive features.
On the other hand, the free plan’s file size limit isn’t great (nowadays, 250MB doesn’t really get you anywhere) and I wish it had more options for managing account security. I’d also appreciate the ability to contact support by phone, which is a more accessible method for many people. But that’s largely where my disappointments end.
Box isn’t a basic cloud storage solution, so if that’s what you need, you should look elsewhere. If you’re interested in a feature-rich, intuitive, user-focused cloud storage service, then I’d suggest Box in a heartbeat. You’ll need to be okay with spending a bit more than you might with other cloud storage hosts, but in this case, you definitely get what you pay for.
Does Box have unlimited storage?If you opt for Box’s Business, Business Plus, or Enterprise plans, you’ll be able to enjoy unlimited storage. Before you invest in unlimited storage, be sure to find out more about file size and type restrictions, and whether this includes file types you want to back up.
Some solutions automatically restrict certain file names or extensions, although some services, like Acronis, can provide you with a mirrored backup of your computer.Can I back up my files for free?Yes – it’s possible to backup and store your files for free. Not all cloud storage solutions offer free plans, but Box does. With Box’s free personal plan, you can store up to 10GB of data before you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.Should you pay for cloud storage?Whether you spend money for cloud storage or not mainly centers around two things: your budget and your needs. If you’re trying to stay budget-friendly, you can get away with not paying for your data storage by finding a host that offers a free plan.
However, if you need more storage capacity or features than free plans are offering, you’ll probably need to invest in a paid plan. Take a look at our Best Cloud Backup Services in 2022 to see which ones our experts suggest.How much do online backups cost?Prices for plans will range, but depending on your needs, you can expect to pay anything from $5 to $50 a month (per user).
Before you can determine which plan works best for you, you’ll need to know how much storage you need and what features you want. For example, if you want versioning features or smart sync options, you may have to pay a bit more. Once you know what your needs are, you’ll be able to decide which cloud storage solution and plan is right for you.
With over 15 years of graphic design, branding, and UX experience, Alicia has worked with clients big and small from around the world. When she’s not glued to her computer screen, you can find her teaching visual communication design classes, roaming through farmers’ markets, or searching for treasures at second-hand bookstores.