Cloud storage and collaboration company Box today launched Box Accelerator, a new technology that will increase the speed of uploads to the service by up to ten percent. In Washington D.C., for example, accelerated uploads to Box were four times faster than uploads to Dropbox and twice as fast as uploads to Google Drive. In Tokyo (which is much farther away from Box HQ) uploads to Box were more than ten times faster than uploads to both Dropbox and Google Drive. Box doesn't yet offer a file-syncing client for consumers, so the comparison is a bit apples and oranges, but the companies certainly compete in the cloud storage arena — especially since both Box and Dropbox are integrated into a great variety of mobile apps.
"We're unlocking your bandwidth."
Box built nine "nodes" across the world (including four in the US) that act as onramps to a faster connection to Box HQ with less interference and end-to-end encryption. The service is automatic and won't cost users a dime. Up to this point, Box piped data directly to its servers from your computer, and also used CDNs like Akamai to serve files. Now, all business and enterprise file uploads will be routed through Box nodes, where they'll get piped back to the company outside San Francisco much more rapidly. Accelerated uploads will come to the company's consumers soon after the enterprise rollout is complete. "We're unlocking your bandwidth," Box's VP of Tech Operations Jeff Queisser says. More than 50 percent of Box's traffic comes from overseas, so the company has constructed nodes to speed up service in Amsterdam (to serve Europe), Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore (to serve Asia), Sao Paolo (to serve South America), and Sydney (to serve Australia).
"Servers are more optimistic when they encounter transient errors in their path."
"The goal is to have a pretty lightweight presence in every major metro area," Queisser says. Users in Australia will see the greatest increase in upload speeds since it's the farthest point from Box servers, but most users should still see speed increases that make the service more than twice as fast as Dropbox. "We've optimized node and Box data center communication," Queisser says, "so servers are more optimistic when they encounter transient errors in their path. They can speak to each other in a really high-bandwidth, high-speed kind of way." The company also built a handful of "cloud nodes" around the world that function similarly, but are software-based and more flexible.
Box Accelerator officially goes live today, but the company has already been testing it with about 50% of its users. Uploads with Accelerator should be on average about "2.7 times faster than its closest competitor globally" and "3.1 faster than its closest competitor in the US," the company said. File uploads are the only types of transfers that will get "accelerated" for now, but downloads across the board, as well as uploads from inside of Box-integrated apps like GoodNotes and iAnnotate PDF, are coming soon. 92% of the Fortune 500 is already onboard with Box, but if the company can launch a desktop file-syncing app for consumers and keep its upload speeds consistently high, it could see a huge influx of users in the consumer space from competitors like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive.