Ask LH: How Can I Persuade My Employer To Let Me Use Dropbox?

Ask LH: How Can I Persuade My Employer To Let Me Use Dropbox?

Hi Lifehacker, My workplace won’t let me use Dropbox anymore — I’ve been told I can only access it via the browser. How do I go about persuading them that I should be allowed access? Thanks, You Are So Dropped

Dear YASD,

Presumably, your IT managers have already weighed up the pros and cons before making this decision — so convincing them otherwise could be tricky. You’ll need to demonstrate that you have a workplace need and that you won’t use it to export confidential information.

The first step is to write a detailed business case as to why you need Dropbox. You can provide proof by timing how much longer it takes to access data across multiple devices compared to using the app. Basically, include any evidence you can think of that demonstrates how the block is counterproductive to your workflow.

Unfortunately, these kinds of policies tend to be set in stone for everybody. It’s unusual for blocked content to be reversed for a single employee; especially if your circumstances are no different to anyone else. For most companies, the risk of leaked data and corporate espionage trumps the ability to work a bit more efficiently and productively.

One possible solution is to use the smartphone/tablet version. Dropbox is available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone, so this shouldn’t be an issue regardless of which mobile platform you use.

See also: How To Be Productive In An Overly Secured Workplace.

When combined with email and the Dropbox web app, it should be easy enough to transfer files to and from your work computer. In the unlikely event that your workplace has a relaxed BYOD policy, you could also try accessing the full app on your own laptop via a 3G internet connection.

If you’d prefer not to churn through your phone’s data, you can often find portable, self-contained versions of apps which you can drop onto a USB key and run without installing anything on your work computer. DropboxPortableAHK is a portable version of Dropbox that comes with Auto Hotkey included.

Just be mindful that many of these workarounds could be breaching your company’s terms of service policy. Even if you think the Dropbox block is stupid, you can still get fired for willfully circumventing it. Proceed with caution.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I personally think if your going down the corporate safe route, Citrix’s Sharefile is a better fit for the workplace, I don’t have a lot of confidence in Dropbox & security for business.

  • Or you could try to get your IT to set up ownCloud. Its great for setting up your own private cloud.

  • Your employer has probably realized that uploading half of every computer’s C drive when some idiot installs dropbox is not great for their Internet bill.

    Consider yourself lucky you can get to it via the web browser. Most sysadmins would have disabled that too for “security reasons”.

    Buy a 3G/4G USB dongle one a data plan that you pay for, then plug it into your laptop to get around the corporate firewall.

  • Your employer is making a fairly intelligent decision that probably protects a lot of confidential material. Why you’d want to circumvent that for the sake of convenience is dumbfounding.

  • Storing anything “out there” on the net is a security risk. It’s up to your employer, not you, to determine which risks are acceptable given the severity of the potential impacts, and the likelihood of those impacts. Yeah, I like my convenient tools, too — for example, I also would like to get corporate email on a phone so old and slow that I will not install the recently mandated device crypto feature on it, but that’s against the rules, so I don’t get corporate email on my phone any more. And if I were my employer, I’d kinda like for someone to be able to check email messages 24/7. But it’s not up to me, and to them, managing the risk that my phone will get lost or stolen, and people will be able to access confidential information, is more important than my having access to email on the go. So be it.

    There are probably better things for you to use your karma capital on, than advocating for access to a public cloud based file sharing service from your work PC.

  • if it is blocked, we blocked it for a reason.
    we don’t block stuff for the fun of it (however, doing it to some sites can be funny… looking at you, youtube and facebook, usually gets us “my internet isn’t working” tickets sent through).
    when we block a website, especially something like dropbox, we have all parties (it admin, network manager, sysadmin and helpdesk people) all in, looking for ways to make it safer and usable, but it can just be too hard, or reward vs gain vs risk isn’t leaning the right way.
    if we block something, use something else, ask us for alternatives, dropbox isn’t business critical to use, it wont stop you working.

    btw, if try and get around it, yes we can find out, no, we don’t really care, yes we will log it.
    and if anything happens, wear some flameproof clothes, because you will be in the cooking pot.

  • Hi YASD, Dropbox can be used very effectively in conjunction with other essential business applications. For example, if your company uses the worlds most popular CRM, Salesforce, there’s a bunch of reasons why it’d make sense to use Dropbox with that – see for five to start with.

  • You can also talk to your IT team and suggest using an additional layer of security to encrypt data at it is transmitted to and stored in the cloud. The Dell Data Protection | Cloud Edition (DDP | CE) software solution (which is platform agnostic – so it works on Dell and non-Dell hardware) protects data as it moves into and out of public cloud storage such as Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive. This will enable you to improve productivity, while providing the security and manageability necessary for simplified IT control. Additionally, Dell has partnered with the most popular cloud storage company, Dropbox, to let employees use their favorite cloud storage application at work and provide IT departments with a broader range of controls to meet even the most stringent compliance and regulatory requirements. This means that with DDP | CE, you can continue to use the one-click sharing and other features that you love and your IT team stays happy.

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