What is the difference between digital asset management systems and cloud storage services?

DAM systems vs. cloud storage services such as Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox in direct comparison.

The agony of choice

With the advent of cloud storage technology, the number of ways to store and share files has increased tremendously. While it used to be easier to find a solution, today there are numerous questions that need to be answered beforehand in order to decide on the right solution.

Services such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox or ownCloud play an indispensable role in the business world. But are these services the optimal solution for your own challenges? Where exactly are the differences between digital asset management systems and cloud storage and which solution is right for me?

Basic distinction between cloud storage and DAM systems

DAM systems focus on digital assets

Digital assets such as images, videos or documents are often already provided with the necessary information such as releases, versions and categories when they are uploaded. The primary goal here is to be able to manage high volumes of data efficiently, to simplify the user's search for media and to avoid duplicates.

Cloud storage services focus on the user

The focus of cloud services is to make saving files as easy as possible for the user. These can then be easily shared via link. Folder structures and duplicates are often ignored here in the database.

The advantage of DAM systems over cloud storage services

While a classic cloud storage service is often limited in terms of administration and management tasks, you can usually map complex company structures, teams, authorizations, workflows and rules with a DAM. On the one hand, this often allows you to work faster and on the other hand, it leads to a significantly higher data quality.

You can think of a cloud storage service as a hard drive where you store your files on the Internet. You can create folders and subfolders there. Grant access to these folders and share files with other people. These services assume that the user knows his files well and creates folder structures on his own. As soon as a third party searches for files here, problems can arise. In this respect, a digital asset management system supports numerous users in searching for files.

Cloud storage often cannot offer the following features

1. file formats

With modern DAM software, there are usually no limitations in terms of file format or file size. In addition, modern DAM solutions such as TESSA™ can be individually supplemented with additional file formats or functions.

2. file conversion

One of the main arguments in favor of a DAM and against a cloud storage service is the ability to convert files automatically. A cloud storage service such as DropBox only offers the ability to share or download a file in its original form. A DAM can do this conversion automatically and in real time.

3. distribute and publish

By directly connecting to third-party systems via standardized interfaces (e.g. RestAPI) and social media platforms, files can also be published directly to the corresponding platform without having to log in there again as a user. This eliminates the need to download and convert the file from the cloud storage service and then upload it to the target platform, saving time.

4. one file for all channels

From the possibilities to convert and distribute files, there is another big advantage that a classic cloud storage service cannot offer. In a DAM system, each file is stored only once, saving a lot of storage space.

5. search and find

A cloud storage service often offers a simple search function to find files or folders by name. Retrieving named files such as "IMG157.jg" is very difficult or nearly impossible when needed.

A DAM system offers enormous added value at this point, as additional automatic or manual metadata can be stored for each file. This metadata is included in the search and increases the quality of the results many times over.

6. workflows

Individual workflows can be used to control and manage all further steps from the creation to the archiving of the file, such as releases, publications and changes. Tasks can be delegated to persons or groups of persons. Compliance with specifications and deadlines can be monitored. And relevant information can be forwarded to the responsible persons.

7. versioning

All files stored in a DAM system can be versioned. In this way, one always has an overview of the complete history of a file. One can see what changes have been made to the file and who made these changes and at what time. Restoring a version is also possible.


Cloud storage not for everyone

Cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox or ownCloud offer a very good basis for data management for individuals or smaller teams, but quickly reach their limits. In terms of price, cloud storage is unbeatable compared to a DAM, but the data is often stored on servers abroad and the search for data can be unnecessarily protracted.

The much higher level of functionality in a digital asset management system often solves these problems very well. Of course, the introduction of such systems is initially more expensive, but the resulting time savings with automated processes, such as distribution of media or an intelligent search lead to higher cost savings in the long run.

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