Rather than just use Dropbox as a safe place to back up all your important business documents, now it’s easier to keep working in Dropbox when disaster strikes.
Whatever business you’re in, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of backing up your important documents. Without a reliable backup system you’re only moments away from disaster – whether it be fire, flood, theft or hackers knocking on your door. Even something as simple as a hard drive failure could plunge your business into chaos if you don’t have backups to call upon.
The rise of cloud storage services like Dropbox offers a relatively cheap and easy way to keep a copy of your important business documents offsite and out of harm’s way. It’s a handy insurance policy for irreplaceable files, but uploading your files to Dropbox is only the first step in protecting your business. The next step is to think about “business continuity” – how your business will stay up and running while you enact your disaster recovery plan and get back on your feet.
This brings us to one of Dropbox’s major shortcomings, there’s no built-in Office suite for editing your files in the cloud. So your files are safe, but you can’t easily open them up in a browser and pick up working where you left off. While you’re scrambling to restore order, customers might be slipping through your fingers.
You’ll find a range of third-party Office suites designed to tap into Dropbox, some more useful than others, but the deal between Dropbox and Microsoft is the best news yet for businesses who want to treat Dropbox as their office in the cloud.
Thankfully you don’t need to install the desktop versions of Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Using an Office 365 subscription you can edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in Dropbox using Microsoft’s Office Online running in a web browser on any computer.
Alternatively you can use the Microsoft Office apps for smartphones and tablets. Any changes to your files are saved directly to Dropbox and synced to your various devices.
Linking Office 365 and Dropbox isn’t just about business continuity, it’s also about mobility. The ability to edit any file, from any location, unshackles you from your desk and lets you stay productive on the road. When you get back to your desk, your edits will have been downloaded from the cloud – so you can jump on your desktop PC and keep working. Once you combine the benefits of mobility and business continuity, embracing the cloud might be a smart move for your business.
It’s worth mentioning that Microsoft has its own equivalent to Dropbox in Microsoft OneDrive, plus there’s Google. Microsoft and Google’s cloud storage services lets you sync files between your devices and the cloud, as well as collaborate on business documents in real time.
If you’re starting from scratch then you should weigh up Dropbox against Microsoft and Google’s offerings. But if your business is already committed to Dropbox then the new Microsoft Office integration might offer the extra functionality you need to stay up and running when disaster strikes.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.