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Using Alfresco Dropbox-like File Sharing Solution

Alfresco Dropbox integration or using Alfresco Dropbox-like? Virtually every organization has a need to exchange files beyond the firewall, and I guess everybody will agree that Dropbox got a lot of things right – ease of use in the first place. It just works – everywhere and even offline. That is why people love and use it – even when they may not be allowed to do so and even when they have a sophisticated ECM or Document Management System used in-house in the organization.

Though being used widely (sometime even intentionally violating organizational information security policies) people fear the cloud while using Dropbox. This essentially poses challenge to IT to mitigate this information security risk and implement a secure file-sharing solution – as good as or as user friendly as Dropbox.

Alfresco does a good job by getting a basic system up and running is fairly effortless manner for all sizes of organizations. The most basic system is the dedicated vanilla on premise Alfresco installation. This already works for a lot of people. Some may need minor tweaks like creating custom sites, local groups or adding the metadata fields.

While Alfresco is used by thousands of organizations as ECM platform for various purposes like Collaboration, Document Management and Digital Asset Management system, the Alfresco Dropbox-like file sharing features aren’t explored much by the user organizations.

Below is the comparison of features offered by Dropbox and Alfresco file-sharing solution. I also list some ways to transform Alfresco installation into your private and secure Dropbox-like file sharing solution. Let’s understand why users like Dropbox and how Alfresco as Dropbox can fits into those expectations:

Share Large files

Dropbox’s ability to handle large files, but need to copy from internal DMS system to Dropbox or achieve integration with DMS.

Alfresco: Handles large content files very nicely, that too without the content leaving the repository.

Share files publicly without user account

Dropbox: Dropbox’s ability to share a files publicly with download access without user credentials had made it very popular. Upload a file in Dropbox and send the link via email to download.

Alfresco: We have developed and successfully deployed an Alfresco Add-on ‘Alfresco Public Folder giving user the option to make any folder public with a unique URL The solution goes a step further to even track the audit trail of shared files and with a timer-based auto-expiry of access making it easier for users to share files securely.

Offline Access

Dropbox: Desktop client of Dropbox allows users to sync files with Dropbox cloud server in a seamless manner, while giving offline access of files, even when you are not connected to internet.

Alfresco: The Desktop client developed by an Alfresco partner using CMIS library is a great addition to Alfresco’s capability, which allows two-way sync to user’s files stored in Alfresco servers with offline access. This add-on goes a step further to even sync the metadata and context menus in desktop client.

Mobile Access:

Dropbox: Native Android and iOS apps for mobile access of files.

Alfresco: Native Alfresco Android and iOS Mobile apps can also be used to connect with on-premised or cloud-based Alfresco server.

Audit trails and event tracking

Dropbox: Able to generate and store audits to track activities/events.

Alfresco: Alfresco offers robust Audit analysis and reports, Alfresco can provide better audit event reporting than Dropbox, due to its nature of configurable audit parameters.


Alfresco is a very promising ECM platform, which not only offers robust content repository with BPM and Enterprise Search capabilities, but is also user friendly for quick adoption by social-media savvy business users. Using Alfresco Drobox-like files sharing solution, IT can avoid the integration challenges and save on cost while users can escape the hassle of using 2 different systems, Alfresco and Dropbox.

Alfresco scores a huge win over legacy ECM platforms due to its nature of being open source, which enables its community contributors and partners to write the add-ons to solve the day-to-day business problems fueling growth and driving user adoption at fast pace. Alfresco has already been included in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing as Visionary and I believe it will make its way up in the ladder, should Gartner take the value of partner add-ons while evaluating it again for their 2015 matrix.

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