Dropbox began as a consumer-focused service, but as anyone who works with digital files knows, it has been adopted by businesses — both large and small — en masse. After dabbling with business-focused features for a while, Dropbox is now officially launching Dropbox for Business, with tools designed to make the service as convenient as possible for IT managers.
Dropbox for Business is really the rechristened Dropbox for Teams, which the company launched back in 2011. That service costs $795 a year for 1TB of storage and includes live support as well as many team-management tools. With Dropbox for Business, the service is getting single sign-on (SSO).
With SSO, IT managers will be able to let their company’s employees sign into Dropbox with the same login info they use for all company services. It also means easier management of those with access to Dropbox folders, since SSO will be tied to active directory integration. If a company deletes someone from their main directory, that change will automatically be reflected in Dropbox.
“Opportunities have opened up to work with larger and larger businesses,” says Dropbox vice president of business development Sujay Jaswa. “Based on our conversations with these customers, the most requested feature was single sign-on.”
For the new service, Dropbox has partnered with several sign-on identity providers, namely Ping Identity, Okta, OneLogin, Centrify and Symplified. Dropbox’s SSO uses Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), an industry standard.
“Most businesses tend to already have an existing identity provider,” says Dropbox for Business manager Anand Subramani. “From the admin perspective, if you set this up correctly, the user may actually never even have to log into Dropbox. We can securely pass your credentials from your PC to Dropbox.”
Besides adding an IT-friendly feature (at no extra cost), Dropbox for Business also represents the company unquestionably entering the enterprise market, going head-to-head with others in the space such as Box.net.
“SSO using SAML is clearly an enterprise feature,” says Jaswa. “But our customers now range all the way from small businesses to divisions of large companies, and several large companies are talking to us about much larger deployments, and we wanted to come up a name that adequately reflected our customer base.”
Will your business consider using Dropbox now that it has single sign-on? Let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy of Dropbox
1. “Favorite” Files for Offline Reading
If you “favorite” images or text documents on your mobile device using the Dropbox app, you can access those files later, even if you’re not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular service.
2. Use Dropbox as Your Default Documents Folder
To conserve memory and time, you can save files directly to Dropbox from your computer programs. This requires simple commands in Terminal for Mac OS or a small settings change for Windows.
For Mac OS, open Terminal (in Utilities) and type cd Dropbox. Press enter, and then type ln -s ~/Documents /Documents. Hit enter again to complete the process.
In Windows, right-click on your My Documents folder, hit Properties and click Move. Then select your Dropbox folder.
3. Email Files to Dropbox as Attachments
When you don’t have access to Dropbox, it comes in handy to have an alternate way to upload files.
If you create an account at SendToDropbox.com, you can send files to a custom email address as attachments. The files will automatically appear in your Attachments folder in Dropbox.
4. Get More Storage — For Free
If you’re a free user of Dropbox, you can immediately access 2GB of space, but you can get more storage without having to pay for an upgrade.
Dropbox offers 500MB for every friend that you refer to the service, 250MB for completing a “Getting Started” checklist, 125MB for connecting social media and several other options to earn more space.
Dropbox Pro users can get up to 32GB of extra space, thanks to referrals.
5. Maintain Firefox Settings Across Multiple Computers
It’s difficult to maintain specific preferences or add-ons in Firefox when you use the browser on multiple computers. However, you can download Firefox Portable and store it in Dropbox. Since Firefox Portable can be used anywhere, your settings and add-ons will be synced.
6. Upload Files to Dropbox via URL
URL Droplet allows you to upload links straight to your Dropbox folders. All you need to do is take a link (this especially works well if the link leads to a PDF or similar document) and paste it into the URL Droplet form.
7. Download Torrents Remotely
Note: This Dropbox tip is intended for legal use only.
If you’re away from your personal computer and you’d like to download bit torrent files, ready by the time you get home, Dropbox is a perfect tool.
Just adjust the settings in your torrent program (uTorrent, BitTorrent, etc.) to automatically load your torrent in Dropbox.
Image courtesy of Jakub Jankiewicz.
8. Maintain Two Dropbox Accounts (Advanced)
This one can get tricky, so it’s intended for advanced users (using Mac OS).
Many people use Dropbox for both business and personal purposes, often maintaining separate accounts for each, since Dropbox doesn’t support multiple users at once. This can be inconvenient when you’re connected to one account but want to reach files in another.
A solution is to use an alternate home directory in the command line and create another Dropbox icon and folder, saved in a separate area on your computer. You can differentiate between the two by changing the color of one of the icons.
Learn more about this process on the Dropbox Wiki.
9. Back Up Your Website
10. Host Web Pages
Want a website, but don’t want to pay for a domain? Want an online portfolio, but don’t know HTML? Dropbox can help.
With Pancake.io, all you need to do is save plain text files in Dropbox, and you can edit them at any time the same way. DropPages is a little bit more complex, letting you add themes and custom URLs. Both services allow you to use Markdown or HTML.