Back on Box.

It’s been a month since I posted a rather angry post about Box. At the time I was having back to back issues not seen with other cloud services I’ve used and it became frustrating to the point where I just decided to cancel the service and move on to a different service. I had the same feelings about Evernote last year when its new interface dramatically slowed down my computer at work and I decided to quit using it, but over time I missed it and decided to give it another chance and since then I’ve been a loyal Evernote user.

I had the same feelings about Box. During the month since cancelling my account I began to miss its integrated file viewing capabilities, a feature I had not seen in some of the other services and one I found most handy. So I submitted a ticket to have my account re-activated and less than 10 minutes later customer service had rendered my account accessible and ready for use.

The next step was downloading the Box Sync software so I can re-upload my files but the installer kept failing with a Setup Failed error. Additionally it gave me a “0x80004005 – Unspecified Error” message, leaving me clueless to the point where I had to submit another ticket. While waiting for their response, I explored the Box Help section and came across the MSI version of the Box Sync installer. This worked, and as I type this post, Box Sync is currently uploading my files.

In my last post about Box, I reported not being able to log in through their app. This seems to have been corrected as I am now able to access my files on Box through my phone. Very nice.

So far, so good with giving Box another chance. The only issue I’m still having is that it’s showing that I’m using 153MB of disk space, despite nothing showing up on the main screen or in my trash bin. I suspect these could be files I needed help recovering from my trash bin but I deleted my account before tech support could assist me further. That was a mistake on my part and this time I’m going to let tech support help me with this one.

And they just did. While I was typing that last paragraph, I received a response from tech support saying they fixed this, and sure enough, my quota is where it should be with the files I’ve uploaded so far.

And so, all my issues with Box have been addressed and I am once again a happy Box user. I’m hoping things stay that way.

Parting ways with Box.

Three strikes and Box is out.

After a year of enjoying secure cloud-based file storage and excellent customer service, I ran into a series of mishaps that left me so frustrated that I decided to give Box the boot.

Strike one: Box Sync no longer works. For the longest time I was able to use the Box Sync application to synchronize files in my local folders with the Box servers with no problem. That all changed a few days ago when I was trying to upload some updated files and noticed that Box Sync was just sitting there in my system tray and giving me no indication it was updating my files. I closed Box Sync and tried restarting it with no success, and then I uninstalled it and did a complete re-install. When I tried running it afterwards, absolutely nothing happened. No login window, no tray icon, not even a desktop icon.

Strike two: Box’s customer service has lost their golden touch. I was frustrated enough with Box Sync no longer working that I deleted all my files and purged them from the trash. The next day I had a change of heart and decided to contact their tech support for assistance in restoring the purged files. I had purged files from the trash before and they were able to bring my files back within minutes of my submitting the trouble ticket. Not this time. For some strange reason, tech support had to escalate my ticket to the next level of support and needed me to grant them temporary access to my account. They didn’t do any of this the first time. A few hours later the folder structure was restored but my files were still missing. That only escalated my frustration.

Strike three: I can no longer log in through the mobile app. I had the Box mobile app installed on my phone which I previously used with no problem. Today when I tried accessing my account through my phone, I had put in my user name and password and then entered the code from the text message they sent as part of the two-step verification process that I set up. Right after that it gave me a login error and a message for me to contact support. That was all I could take from a bad day on Box and I deleted my account there a few minutes later.

I won’t go back to Box again and no longer recommend it. It’s sad to see them go downhill the way they have.

UPDATE: Box has got some nerve e-mailing me links to surveys asking me how they did after failing to resolve my three issues. I responded by giving them the worst possible scores on any survey I’ve ever filled out. Box is now the first cloud backup service I strongly dislike. I won’t ever use them again.

A question regarding the cloud.

Now that cloud backup services have become the norm of Internet life, I can’t help wonder if there are people who use more than one such service for their backup needs. I myself use three, yes, three cloud backup services for my backups. Each one serves my needs in their own unique way.

1. OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) – As part of the training for Microsoft tech support job I once had, I had to sign up for an account on SkyDrive for uploading the study materials. It was the very first cloud backup service I used and still use it for my backups.

2. Box – I use this to store the work-related files for my current job as tech support for AT&T. Its integrated file viewer is a real plus.

3. Dropbox – Although I use it for backing up my files, I mainly use it for storing photos I take with my phone’s camera. After taking my pictures, I run the app and it uploads the pictures to my Dropbox account where I can later download them to my desktop computer. Way more fun than transferring the pictures via USB.

I wonder if there are any other cloud fanatics out there who use more than one online backup service.

Redundancy in the cloud.

Like most Internet-savvy folk I use a cloud-based file storage service to back up my files. My primary backup service is Box, although I also use OneDrive. Sometimes I wonder if I really need more than one cloud backup service, and last week I found out that the answer is yes.

In addition to backing up my files in the cloud, I also back them up to a flash drive and an external hard drive. I start by deleting the old files on the backup media before copying over the new files to avoid copying duplicate files, especially after I create new folders for some of my files.

Last week I deleted what I thought were the old files on the backup media when in fact I had deleted the local folder used by the backup software to synchronize my files to the cloud. The backup software itself was still running and notified me that the deleted folders would no longer be synchronized. I had lost the local folder.

This is where having a second backup service like OneDrive comes in handy. It too uses its own local folder for synchronizing my files, and I only needed to re-copy the files from this folder to the one from where I accidentally erased the files. From there I was able to synchronize the updated files as usual.

To me, that’s one of the perks of having more than one cloud backup service.

Integrating the Box.

I’m so impressed with Box that I’ve integrated it more tightly into my job as a tech support agent. In the process I am dumping OneDrive.

The one feature that won me over is the quick preview window that comes up when you click on a file. Regardless of what that file is, be it a PDF, a Word document, or an Excel spreadsheet, you can view that file online without downloading it. OneDrive has that same preview feature but when it comes to viewing HTML files, it only displays the source code, which I find useless. Box allows previewing of HTML files as well, which is a big plus considering I have some work-related documents in HTML format.

One of the programs I keep on Box is a simple stopwatch program I use to keep track of my break times. It took me two clicks to run it from OneDrive, one click to get past the annoying warning screen about my running an EXE file and another click to download the program itself. I only need to click once to run the same program from Box. Other cloud backup services I tried have the same one-click convenience to launch executable programs and it’s nice to see it on Box as well.

Finally, Box has excellent customer service. I needed to call them after deactivating my account when I mistakenly thought I didn’t really need it. The first time I called I waited on hold for 5 minutes before hanging up, but the second time I called I got through to an agent right away, and they helped me re-activate my account. Less than a half hour later I was moving my files there from OneDrive. Very nice.

A Box in the cloud.

I’m guessing that the better cloud storage services are the ones you don’t hear about. Services like Google Drive, Skydrive and Dropbox often make headlines for their security flaws or their potential involvement with the NSA, which doesn’t exactly give them good publicity.

Last week I was making changes to my blog’s layout and was exploring the various pre-configured widgets when I saw a widget for posting links to files shared on Box. I had never even heard of Box, so I decided to check them out and before I knew it, I was signed up and am now using them to store my files.

It’s a good sign that Box has managed to shy away from the negative publicity to the point where even a seasoned Internet user myself hasn’t heard of it. Box appears to have a cloud infrastructure robust and secure enough for even businesses to trust with their storage needs. It also appears oriented towards IT personnel who need to collaborate and share their files but it works just as well for basic file storage.

There are some features here I like that sets Box apart from the other storage services I’ve tried. The web interface has a quick preview feature that lets you view your documents without downloading them. I have several HTML documents I access often to do my job and being able to copy and paste text even from the preview window is a big plus.

The client software that syncs my local folders has a nice feature that lets me set up folder sharing using the client software itself as opposed to using the web site.

So far, so good with Box. If you’re looking for a cloud storage service with a good reputation that offers accessibility and security in mind, give them a try.