Should your RIA migrate away from Dropbox?


Dropbox is a popular file hosting service for personal users, but as with any freemium cloud service, it has also become a popular storage option for businesses. However, as threats of ransomware and other cyberattacks come to dominate the news, many Dropbox users have begun to wonder whether it’s truly a safe and reliable choice. As a result, many RIAs ask us whether they should move client files out of Dropbox.

The short answer is yes

In a nutshell, your RIA should not use Dropbox for work purposes. Dropbox is better suited for personal, lower-power use such as for backing up certain personal files.

Dropbox’s drawbacks

  • Poor administrative visibility
    Dropbox doesn’t give a lot of control and visibility to IT administrators, which is critical for companies managing the sensitive files of various clients scattered across different agents. You have limited control over who can access what.

    Another critical issue is that Dropbox doesn’t allow companies to view audit logs and remotely wipe devices. This means that if data is stolen or devices are lost, there is no way of finding out who may be responsible nor is there a way to remove sensitive information safely.

  • No granular permissions
    Different users handle data differently. This is more evident than ever with the rise of remote or home-based working and digital collaboration. So it is important for your RIA firm’s IT personnel to have some granular control over the various sets of permissions that govern your organization. This granular control prevents accidental overwrites and deletions, and helps ensure your business meets privacy standards and compliance regulations. Dropbox does not have this feature, so continuing to use Dropbox for storing private client information can be very risky.

  • Limited encryption
    Because Dropbox is a consumer-grade cloud storage system, one user’s files aren’t well-partitioned away from those of other users. It’s a public cloud at its current scale and it does take the expected measures to protect user data, albeit only at a one-size-fits-all encryption level. So if Dropbox suffers a breach, you can expect that all of its users’ data will be compromised. An enterprise-grade cloud solution will give you more control over how your data is protected, and it will also provide you with better protection tools to boot.

  • No password-protected sharing
    You can share links of Dropbox folders to your friends, making it a convenient way to provide access to photos or music. But it’s not a good idea to use it for work because Dropbox does not provide options to secure folders with passwords. There is also no way to retroactively secure previously shared files. On Dropbox, admins have no control over who can access and edit documents and the like.

  • Collaborative syncups aren’t optimal
    Dropbox is notorious for sync issues because of the way it is programmed to create temporary instances for unsynced files. Some users even report syncs failing altogether, resulting in cluttered folders and an incomplete master file. This hurts not only your productivity but also the security of your information, as it leads to difficulties in data audits.

  • Tends to be resource-intensive
    Lastly, and this is a very common complaint, Dropbox is a resource monster. Its Windows app is notorious for heavy consumption of computing power. It can render even newer laptops unusable, which is a big no-no considering most workers need to access files while attending teleconferences and Zoom calls nowadays. And with RIAs working on the go, frozen devices will truly hurt not just your company’s productivity, but also its reputation.

Dropbox Business

Dropbox Business solves almost all of the problems with Dropbox for personal use, but it comes with some caveats that are hard to ignore. First of all, Dropbox Business does not provide data management formats to meet specific compliance requirements — to stay compliant, you’ll have to manually set up and maintain your data system under Dropbox. SharePoint also provides customized web controls, information rights management tools, and WOPI cloud protocols, features that are unavailable on Dropbox Business. Best of all, SharePoint integrates tightly with Microsoft Office, Business Central, Microsoft 365, and more, integration that Dropbox simply doesn’t offer.

Microsoft SharePoint is a much better option

SharePoint is the unquestionable choice over Dropbox for RIA firms. It integrates with other Microsoft solutions, is robust and scalable, and offers the most value for businesses of all sizes. SharePoint keeps data secure, thanks to Microsoft’s enterprise-grade protection systems, and it provides your IT administrators with all the tools and features they need to ensure high productivity at all times. Plus, it’s likely available as part of your current Microsoft subscription, so moving from Dropbox to SharePoint should help reduce your IT budget each month.

Related article: OneDrive and SharePoint for RIAs: Which one to use?

SharePoint features

SharePoint has an updated interface for access, interaction, and collaboration. It also has tools like Power Automate and Power Apps for improving repetitive tasks and transactions. For IT administrators, SharePoint provides control and policy tools to help ensure that all the data, financial information, and other sensitive files you handle for your clients are protected. Lastly, the app comes with SharePoint add-ins, third party extensions that further refine your processes and help you achieve success.

How to make the move

Migration to and deployment of SharePoint isn’t a one-click process, but that is its only main drawback compared to Dropbox. Proper setups and integration can be done through a trusted RIA-specialized managed IT partner like RIA WorkSpace. Because we have a deep understanding of the RIA industry, we are well suited to configure Microsoft SharePoint to meet your business’s specific needs.

To better protect your data, migrate your RIA to Microsoft SharePoint. Our experts will make that transition as smooth as possible so you can hit the ground running. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.