Collaboration and client portals are all the rage and the Dropbox online storage service is proving to be a popular choice. Among the service's 50m users are increasing numbers of UK accountancy firms, judging from contributions to a recent Any Answers debate on the pros and cons of Dropbox.
The thread was sparked by a question from jaybee661. Having started practising from home, jaybee wanted a way to make the same files accessible from the firm’s new office: “Is something like Dropbox the answer so I can ‘see’ the files (and, more importantly, make changes to them) wherever I am?”
Nearly 70 comments were posted in response. This article sifts through the evidence presented to throw more light on one of the internet’s most successful recent phenomena.
As one of more than a dozen AccountingWEB members who came forward to discuss their experiences with Dropbox, Hansa descrbed it as a “very useful cloud service for synchronising non-confidential data”. The advantages include ease of use for uploading and retrieving files to the web, compatibility with most mobile devices and built-in synchronisation between PCs, Macs and smartphones that you connect to the service. Once you load up a file, the latest version is available on all your devices.
The big concern raised was around security. After a few recent headlines, some users who delved into the data protection arrangements were less enthusiastic about using it for storing or sharing client files.
“It's great for granny's photos, not for business”, commented Hansa.
But Paul Scholes and other Dropbox enthusiasts don’t see the need for ultimate security and are happy to live with the acknowledged risks: “Once you use it you'll chuck away all your memory sticks and realise how much more confusing life was before it.”