Box.net Introduces New Look and Web Documents

box_logoAs these things go, Box.net is an old-timer among cloud file storage options, having been around for four years now.

Without a network sync component like Windows LiveSync (aka FolderShare) and DropBox, Box.net competes by focusing on reliability and accessibility. Once a file is uploaded to Box.net, it’s easy to grab and edit from any desktop browser or mobile device. The service is consistently fast and available. Plans range from free to enterprise solutions. While the free version is functional with 1 GB of storage space, it may be worth the upgrade to the $7.95/month Individual plan for the faster uploads alone. It’s significantly faster than any FTP server I’ve ever used.

After keeping the same look and feel for years, Box.net recently refreshed their interface and introduced the ability to create documents directly on the site.

The new look shows more info about a folder at a glance. Before you had to click on a drop-down menu to work with a file/folder; now most of that info is right in the sidebar. This makes it much easier to collaborate on assets.

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They’ve also introduced the ability to create documents on the fly. Previously, you had to create your document in another application and then upload to Box.net. Now, you have no need to jump out of Box.net for simple additions.

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It’s not meant to replace Google Docs or Zoho or any on- or offline word processor. For starters, you can’t import or export files. But all the basic WYSIWYG editing functionality is there. Don’t think of it as an online Microsoft Word, think of it as an online Notepad or TextEdit.

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Truth be told, the value of this feature is limited. You certainly wouldn’t use it for complex documents. But, if the file is not explicitly shared, it is locked even to collaborators. So it could be useful if you want to write more information/instruction than can fit in the sidebar comments and you don’t want your collaborators to remove or edit the file.

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The significant weakness of Box.net is its lack of an offline feature. If you don’t have Internet access, you are not getting to your files. The company has hinted that they have something cooking in that direction, but until then it’s important to keep a local copy of any files that you might have to access on a moment’s notice.

What service do you you use for cloud storage?

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