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Secure cloud use in a team: Tips for using Dropbox

We have already summarized the many advantages of using the cloud in many places, as well as the associated risks. As a provider of encryption software, we do our best every day to protect your data. But did you also know that we use an encrypted cloud in our everyday office life and thus work with cloud storage on a daily basis? In this article we therefore have first-hand tips on how you can use the cloud - in our case Dropbox in combination with Boxcryptor - safely and efficiently. The functionality and convenience of the cloud storage are not restricted by this.

What is Dropbox?

At Boxcryptor, we mainly use Dropbox to store data and quickly exchange it between the various workplaces and colleagues. So the Dropbox serves us initially as an online hard drive, but it offers a number of advantages over simple data storage in local storage. These not only simplify the processing of files, but also make sharing and teamwork more efficient and secure.

How does Dropbox work?

To save files in the cloud, the Dropbox client automatically creates a folder in the file system on the computer. Data in this cloud folder is synchronized on the Dropbox servers and kept constantly up to date. Even though this data is “online”, you are still working with a copy on your computer that is automatically updated every time it is saved. Old versions are not simply replaced - and this is where the first, big advantage of most cloud providers is revealed - but rather “superimposed”, so to speak. If you need access to an older draft or even a deleted file, you can restore it from the cloud with little effort. On the one hand, Dropbox works as a simple storage location, but it also automatically takes over the versioning of your old designs.

At Boxcryptor, we have already seen for ourselves that a quick recovery can always save the working day. Because our office is also full of the most common cause of data loss: people.

The most important step: The (good) establishment of a file system

A well thought-out file system is also particularly important in cloud environments. You should therefore set up a suitable structure immediately after setting up the synchronization folder. Here you can first decide which data you only want to have stored on your device and which information you want to store online. The question of future users can help: Which team, which people need access to which files?

Team organization in particular can be well mapped in cloud storage services such as Dropbox. This makes it possible to share team folders and even small-scale access rights with just a few clicks. Thanks to the settings in the client of the cloud service, these no longer have to be transferred to individual devices later. Your team automatically receives the necessary authorizations via log-in - across platforms.

Our tip: In addition to simple, shared folders, Dropbox also offers so-called team folders. These are created by the administrator and appear automatically in the client of all team members with the appropriate approval. The best thing about it: The folder cannot be accidentally deleted, moved, or renamed. The content remains free to edit.

Create, Edit and Share: Permissions

With the good setup you have taken the first important step towards effective, but also safe use: With a few clicks you can now give your team the necessary authorizations. Newly created files inherit the setting of the parent instance. If you share entire folders, their permissions are then also inherited. At the same time, you can selectively approve relevant documents at any time, for example for viewing. Selected recipients are given access via a link. This can be quickly created by right-clicking on individual folders and files. Users don't have to be on your team for this - and cumbersome file uploads, overcrowded e-mail inboxes and file versions that are no longer up-to-date are a thing of the past.

“Setting up teams is very easy in Dropbox. Certain users can be given access to certain folders and at the same time the editing rights of the contained documents can be restricted. For example, imagine you want employees to read a document but not edit it. This prevents errors as well as accidental overwriting of original files. "(Anna Gargioni, translated, greengeeks.com)

At Boxcryptor, for example, files are often exchanged in marketing in order to coordinate text and graphics or to make corrections. Instead of sending around laboriously named work documents, every team member can access the latest version of a file in the Dropbox regardless of the time. Comments and changes are also possible in real time and, more importantly, in a single document. However, you should still avoid working on the same document at the same time. This can lead to conflicting copies in your Dropbox.

Our tip: If possible, activate the program's own tracking functions for changes (e.g. in Microsoft Word). Combined with the automatic versioning by Dropbox, you have the greatest security that your data will not be lost. At the same time, you keep track of changes to documents that have been edited together.

Safe sharing: folder or file?

In Dropbox, you can share entire folders as well as individual files. The first variant is particularly useful when a small team that you trust is supposed to work on a project. However, you should be aware that members can also move or remove files - one of the most common sources of error when dealing with shared files. In order to exchange information with less familiar or non-tech-savvy people, it is always advisable to share individual files directly via a link in case of doubt. Files do not have to be moved out of a folder for this: access is only granted to the respective shared document.

Our tip: Sharing files within your team is easy and secure with Boxcryptor and Dropbox. In order to share content with external partners, we recommend using Whisply, our service for the secure, end-to-end encrypted exchange of files. This can be selected in the context menu with a right click. The release does not require a Dropbox or Boxcryptor account on the part of the recipient and can be additionally protected by various security levels of your choice. Whisply can be used to send individual files as well as zipped folders.

More control

In addition to simple collaboration options, the use of cloud services such as Dropbox also contributes to better data control. What may sound paradoxical at first - the data is backed up on external servers - has exactly this advantage: Access control is not carried out locally, but is always linked to the user account. If rights are assigned at a central point (ideally the system administration), these can also be removed again without even having to hold the end device of the respective user in the hand.

On the one hand, this makes user management easy for companies: New and outgoing members can easily be added or removed without affecting the files themselves.

Since the synchronization is controlled in the cloud provider's client, it can also be undone there. In short, data can be removed from devices remotely. If, for example, a device from your company is stolen, you can use this authorization to block access to data and remotely delete files that have already been synchronized from the device. All other local copies, including the original in the cloud, are of course unaffected. Please do not delete any files directly from the Dropbox! This would also make them disappear from all other devices. The Dropbox website explains how to carry out a remote deletion easily and correctly.

Save storage space: Selective Sync and Smart Sync

An important and frequently mentioned advantage of cloud storage services is the saving of local storage space. However, this is only partially correct, as cloud files are first downloaded before processing and are then still available as local copies. Nevertheless, saving storage space by using the cloud is not a myth: In any case, you do not need extensive backup structures or mobile storage media for data exchange.

At the same time, however, a lot of space on the hard drive can be saved through selective synchronization. Only files that you actually want to actively edit are downloaded. So z. For example, team members' projects can be synchronized when required, while otherwise they remain available online, but are not available as a real copy on the local hard drive. Files and folders that are no longer used (e.g. archives) can also be kept available via the cloud if necessary without taking up storage space on the local system.

Boxcryptor supports the functions of Dropbox Smart Sync. This means that you can simply double-click online files from the Dropbox to download and open them from the Boxcryptor drive.

Important: An internet connection is always required for the download. You can then edit files that are already available offline without a network connection. However, these changes (and thus also the backup) are only transferred and are also available to other team members when you are online again.

The most common mistakes

Basically, you can hardly make any mistakes when using Dropbox with Boxcryptor. The most important thing is to only transfer data to the cloud in encrypted form. Therefore, make sure that the work is always carried out from the virtual Boxcryptor drive. In this blog post we explain why you should never use cloud storage services unencrypted.

You should also never place files outside of the Dropbox or the Boxcryptor drive - e.g. B. on your desktop - drop or move. This means that the file is no longer available to all team members and can also be lost through accidental deletion or loss of the device.

Finally, you should always make sure that the synchronization with Dropbox is active and your device is connected to the cloud client. This is the only way to apply changes and make them available to all team members. In this context, make sure that you have an active internet connection. For your own data security, please only edit files in offline mode in exceptional cases. In this case, make sure that the changes are synced as soon as you are connected to the Internet again.

Boxcryptor and Dropbox

At the beginning, Boxcryptor was specially developed to encrypt files in Dropbox. While we now support an extensive list of cloud storage providers, our history is still reflected in our partnership with Dropbox. As a premium partner in the field of technology, we always find out about innovations first and can integrate them more quickly into our encryption software.

But if you're not sure if Dropbox is exactly the cloud storage provider you're looking for, no problem. In our cloud storage comparisons for private or business users, you are sure to find the right solution for your needs. Boxcryptor as an additional security layer is of course always suitable to protect your data as best as possible. Or are you already using a cloud of your choice, but without the appropriate encryption? Then download Boxcryptor for free. You can start right away.

Free webinar: Using Boxcryptor in your company

Get to know the functions of Boxcryptor Company and Enterprise in our webinar. We give you tips on how to set up Boxcryptor in your company and answer your open questions. You will find the next available dates in the registration form.