Why Dropbox or Google Drive doesn’t work for teams — and how to fix it with DAM.
I’m constantly being asked, “Why should I switch to a DAM when I already have Dropbox?”.
Given I generally provide the same response, I’ve jotted it down here as a reminder.
Firstly, let’s dispel a premisconception — Storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive are not Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions. They are simple file storage services that allow you to file assets as you would on your computer, in a linear folder structure.
Think of it much like your computer’s file manager. For a single user, it works because you generally know where everything is and have your own “mental map” around how “you” file and structure your own files.
Now, give others access to your computer files. Can you entrust them to store and manage files within your personal folder hierarchy or even find files? Are you assured that other users won’t accidentally delete your files or misplace them? You can see how this system quickly crumbles when shared between teams.
Note: In the article below, I refer to Dropbox but also include other file storage solutions such as Google Drive, OneDrive and Box in these descriptions.
Dropbox lets you store and sync your digital assets within folders in the cloud that you can access from your devices and share with others. When organising your personal files, or coordinating a folder of assets with your team, Dropbox works. But if your company utilises thousands of digital assets over multiple projects or clients, your ability to efficiently view, upload, share and use your assets diminishes quickly.
Similarly, a DAM allows you to store, sync, and share your digital assets in a single cloud library. However, DAM provides superior functionality around categorising, sorting, filtering, meta tagging and searching your assets. A DAM also allows you to set permissions to control the types of users and actions allowed.
Here are some key differences between the solutions.
Dropbox allows you to name folders and add comments to files but it doesn’t provide additional search, sort or filter capabilities. Even with Enterprise accounts, additional add-ons are required just to add basic meta tags to files and folders.
You can share a file link or invite people to join a folder but sharing options are limited, and you can’t control how users utilise the assets. Dropbox is charged per individual user, which is perfect if you’re solo or small. But it does get expensive for enterprise companies with hundreds of employees, partners and agencies who share hundreds of assets everyday.
A DAM enables browsing, searching, and previewing by default. You can search your assets by filename, folder name, asset type, category, brand, metadata keywords, date, approval status, colour, and more.
A DAM also gives you the power to create and search additional elements like file descriptions and comments, and allows you to choose your file size and file type as you download or export your assets. This saves you and your team a heap of time, as you don’t need to use an extra app like Adobe Photoshop to reformat images and illustrations. Simply choose an image, select a business or social media size format, crop to position and quickly output to size.
A DAM has extremely granular controlled access and you can set permissions for every asset so only certain people or groups can preview and download them. A DAM can also be more cost effective for an enterprise company, since many offer plans based on overall server size, and not the number of individual user accounts.
One of the biggest risks with a file service like Dropbox is that the files aren’t backed up or replicated elsewhere. So if you delete a file you own or have shared with others, it’s deleted for everyone. Many Dropbox users end up deleting files they don’t need themselves, without realising that doing this actually deletes the files for the entire company. You can restore them within 30 days of deletion but it’s hard to notice misplaced assets when you manage thousands of assets.
With a DAM, your assets are triple-redundant and geo-replicated. This simply means that we make three copies of everything in your DAM and store it in two different server locations. This ensures that assets can be restored quickly and easily, and you don’t need to worry about accidentally deleting a file. And with the correct permission levels in place, companies can restrict the deletion of assets to select groups, reducing the risk of accidentally deleting precious assets.
Dropbox doesn’t allow you to create online pages or style guideline manuals, so you can’t build protocols or standards around best practice processes or “How-to” manuals for your users.
With a DAM, you’re provided with a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to create your own sites, web pages and instructional guidance manuals. You can even link and embed your assets to these instructional pages, so there is a direct correlation between the assets your users are downloading and how to best use them per your Brand Protocol.
It’s very easy to lose track of who has been given access to your assets, as there is no easily manageable membership system that keeps track of all your users and what they’ve downloaded or shared. And it becomes very time consuming to set permissions each time you share a file.
A DAM enables you to build a community of users and set different view, download and share permissions for those various user groups, rather than needing to remember the permissions required each time you share a file.
Having a membership list also allows the DAM to capture the complete download and activity history so you can alert users when assets are amended or become obsolete. The built-in brand update (eMarketing newsletter) also allows you to reach out to your entire community or post alerts to individuals or individual user groups.
A DAM provides a superior opportunity to engage and interact with your users, and manage brand awareness. And when you’re managing hundreds of assets, and the reputation of your clients and teams, a DAM is the obvious choice.
Read more about the Brand Toolbox Digital Asset Management module here.
9 March 2017