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DAM Knowledge

Dropbox vs DAM: What’s the Difference?

Carlie Hill avatar

Carlie Hill

Director of Growth Marketing

5 min read

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As content creation continues to grow exponentially, many organizations struggle to keep up with the number of digital files they're creating and managing on a day-to-day basis. Even those who have digital file management systems in place are finding they're outgrowing them way faster than anticipated and are now revisiting their digital asset needs.

When looking for new options and considering how to upgrade their file management systems, many organizations get caught wondering what the difference is between popular cloud-based systems like Dropbox and digital asset management (DAM) solutions. In order to compare and contrast, we’ll need to better understand each system individually.

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

A DAM is a file management system focused on digital media used to store, organize, collaborate on and distribute visual content (photos, videos, graphics, etc.) all from within one central library. Typically focused on brand and marketing-related assets, a DAM is conventionally owned by the marketing team, but can also be used and accessed by many other teams within your organization to maximize productivity.

A DAM offers excellent features that allow users to manage any type of digital file and perform a variety of beneficial functions, including re-sizing and re-formatting their media, tracking usage history, and sharing large files easily. Additionally, a DAM provides organizations with increased media security, such as user permissions, compliance regulations, and watermarking.

Key Features of a DAM

  1. Sophisticated Search Capabilities: A DAM makes storing, managing, and finding brand and marketing material (photos, videos, etc.) easy with artificial intelligence, keywords, and advanced search capabilities.
  2. Permission Settings: Customized access permissions for internal and external users give organizations a tighter rein on digital media. A DAM offers version control, history tracking, and watermarks, as well as enhanced security and compliance.
  3. Easy Distribution: A DAM includes features that enable easy sharing of large media files, such as high-resolution images, large-format videos, etc., over email, web galleries, or Branded Portals.

The Bottom Line

A DAM is best for companies that need a better way to produce, store and distribute large amounts of rich media content (photos, videos, audio, etc.). If you’re a smaller team, looking for a lighter solution that stores documents alone, you may not need all the features a DAM provides.


What is Dropbox? Dropbox is one of the most popular online file-sharing services on the market. It provides a web-based library to store, organize and share digital files like PDFs, word documents, images, and videos. Dropbox has a free version with minimal storage, and upgraded, paid packages that scale with storage needs.

Key Features of Dropbox

  1. Enhanced Search: Dropbox offers refined search capabilities with file type filtering and advanced sorting.
  2. Easy Sharing: Dropbox creates shareable links for convenient and easy file sharing. When creating the link, users can choose the permission of the recipient as an editor or viewer of the file, and offers password protection on shareable links.
  3. Effortless Syncing: Dropbox has a sync folder on the user’s computer that syncs with the cloud. It offers a selective sync functionality that gives users the choice of which folders to sync to their hard drive and which to only sync to the cloud.

Bottom Line

Dropbox is an easy-to-use online file-sharing system that would be a great choice for a small-to-medium organization that doesn’t need vast amounts of storage for digital files. It would not be a fit for organizations actively growing and scaling up their content creation and storage needs, as it would make the price tag increase considerably. It is best for those who don’t need advanced security and user permission settings, but instead, a general hub for storing and sharing files with some basic password protection options.

Why Organizations Choose to Upgrade from Dropbox to DAM

Many organizations begin by using Dropbox or a similar file-sharing system, only to find that as they grow, they need a more robust solution to manage their content—especially their rich media.

DAM screenshot

While organizations gain vast benefits from upgrading to a DAM, here are a few noteworthy features:

  • Previewing: With a DAM, users can preview design files, PDFs, videos, 3D files, large format images, etc. whereas Dropbox has more limited file review capabilities, depending on the file type.
  • Asset Rendering and Resizing: A DAM enables users to customize the format and size of each asset when they download or share them. Users no longer need help from the design team, they simply need permission to use the rendering feature.
  • Searching: A DAM offers additional advanced search features, including AI auto-tagging, that allow you to find what you’re looking for without the hassle of sifting through a large number of assets.
  • Support and Training: A DAM (specifically, MediaValet) offers unlimited onboarding and training, meaning that if you’re ever having challenges or need a refresher, MediaValet will immediately help you, free of charge.

Outgrown Your Digital Storage Needs?

After a closer look at both Dropbox and DAM, it’s clear why many organizations are choosing to upgrade to a digital asset management system. Basic file-sharing systems like Dropbox often serve as a starting point, and as organizations grow, their content creation grows with them—meaning their file storage and sharing needs to scale as well.

Only a DAM can truly scale with a company and meet ongoing needs, not only for storage but for advanced security, search functionality, support, and training. Your digital files need to be safe, easily discoverable when needed, and easily shared. See how MediaValet compares to other DAM vendors in this G2 report.

MediaValet is a leader in cloud-based digital asset management that helps organizations manage, organize and share their digital assets, improving productivity and increasing ROI.

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