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


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

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

Difference between Digital Asset Management Systems and Cloud Storage Services?

Basic distinction between cloud storage and digital asset management systems

DAM systems put digital assets at the center of attention:

Digital assets such as images, videos or documents are often provided with the necessary information, such as approvals, versions and categories, already during upload. The primary goal here is to be able to manage large amounts of data efficiently, make it easier for users to search for media and avoid duplicates.

Cloud storage services put the user in the center of attention:

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

Benefits of digital asset management systems for cloud storage services in detail

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

A cloud storage service can be imagined like a hard disk on which you store your files on the Internet. You can create folders and subfolders there. Give 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 occur. A digital asset management system helps many users to find files.

Features that matter and cloud storage is often not available

1. File formats

With modern DAM software, there are usually no limits on file format or file size. In addition, modern DAM solutions such as TESSA™ can be individually enhanced with additional file formats or functions.

2. File conversion

One of the main arguments for a DAM and against a cloud storage service is the ability to automatically convert files. A cloud storage service such as DropBox simply 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 on the corresponding platform without having to log in again as a user. This eliminates the need to download and convert files from the cloud storage service and then upload them to the target platform, saving time.

4. one file for all channels

The ability to convert and distribute files is another great 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. The retrieval of named files such as "IMG157.jg" is very difficult or almost impossible if necessary.

A DAM system offers enormous added value in this respect, as additional automatic or manual metadata can be stored for each file. These metadata are included in the search and increase the quality of the results many times over.

6. Workflows

With individual workflows, all further steps such as approvals, publications and changes can be monitored and controlled from the creation to the archiving of the file. 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, you always have an overview of the complete history of a file. You can see what changes have been made to the file and who made these changes at what time. Restoring a version is also possible.

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

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