How much of your work needs online access? How often do you need to share files with your teammates or clients? Email attachments remain a popular choice to share files, but emails pose limitations on the file sizes and simultaneous collaboration on shared files. Emailing is not conducive to collaboration, because multiple people in the team cannot work on the same file simultaneously.
Instead of overloading our email inboxes with attachments, we can take advantage of the huge variety of top-notch file sharing applications, cloud-based, feature-packed and many of them are free of charge. These applications save your time from the bulky set up, cost and maintenance of managing your own home server, and simplify upload, download and synchronization of files you collaborate on with your friends or teammates.
We have identified 10 of the top file-sharing apps, some multiplatform, some are limited to Android or iOS only, that allow you to securely store, share and manage your files with your colleagues, friends and family, or simply synchronize files across your multiple devices. While some options on the list are notorious, others appear as unsung heroes. While the third kind of apps is only suited for business needs. Let’s start with the most obvious suggestions first.
Dropbox has been one of the most prominent and most popular cloud storage and file-sharing online services out there for good reason. Dropbox offers seamless file synchronization, and supports Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux and BlackBerry platforms. Users can set up file-sharing or folder sharing to collaborate with others – once you create a shared folder and add users to it, this folder appears in the people’s Dropbox automatically. All team members can delete, edit or add files within the shared folder.
In addition, Dropbox allows you to share files with non-Dropbox users by simply creating a link to a file or folder you want to share. Those who have this link can preview the contents of the file or folder through their browsers. Dropbox is extremely easy to use – all you have to do is install it on your mobile device and/or your desktop, add files to the Dropbox folder, and from now on, Dropbox will automatically synchronize those files to your Dropbox account in the cloud. This means that you have access to the latest versions of your files from any device that has your Dropbox account installed. Most individual users use Dropbox free accounts to store personal and work files.
2. Google Drive
GoogleDrive allows you to create, edit and view documents, presentations and spreadsheets, and share the files or folders with anyone on your contact list. GoogleDrive lets you choose who of your collaborators can view the document, who can comment on your content, and who can edit it. GoogleDrive allows you to open more than 30 file types through online GoogleDocs, so you can open Word or Excel files even if you don’t have the Microsoft Office installed on your computer. GoogleDrive is equally seamless on mobile devices in a way that it synchronizes every change you make, and always has the latest version of your files. Each save action creates a new revision, which is very comfortable if you need to look back, and GoogleDrive allows you to track as far as 30 days back on files, and restore to an earlier version of the file, if need arises.
You can backup some of your Android device files and settings to GoogleDrive, and it goes without saying that your contact list gets automatically synchronized with your Gmail once you set it on your Android smartphone. GoogleDrive is free for individual users, and in most cases, the free storage is more than enough for personal and work files of individuals who don’t work with extremely large files.
Microsoft’s OneDrive, my favorite, offers 7 GB of free cloud storage and seamless synchronization across multiple platforms to store, share, synchronize and easily collaborate on files, videos, photographs and documents. OneDrive offers online version of MS Office files, as well as easily synchronizes your files automatically in the background so that you always have the latest version on all of your devices. OneDrive is perfect for collaboration because it has a built-in integration with Microsoft Office, and you can work simultaneously on the same projects and documents in real time with your colleagues.
You can share files or entire folders, photo albums, without having to attach anything – you just need to send an email with a link to the file or folder you want to share while everything else in your OneDrive cloud remains private and secured. The free storage should normally be enough for an individual user, and you can get to 200 GB in a variety of plans.
SpiderOak positions itself as a “zero knowledge” privacy cloud storage offering file backup, synchronization and sharing from all devices including mobile. SpiderOak Android application allows you to access and view the files stored in your cloud storage, as well as access and view your Share Rooms and those of your friends, open and share files with other apps on your Android device. It’s an easy way to keep your files synchronized across your desktop and mobile devices. You first need to use it on your computer, but once you set it up, any file added to your SpiderOak Hive becomes accessible from your mobile devices. SpiderOak offers 2 GB of free storage and a variety of payment plans for additional storage based on a monthly or yearly fee. SpiderOak allows you to view share rooms without having a SpiderOak account.
SugarSync cloud storage and file-sharing allows you to access, browse, synchronize and backup online. SugarSync makes it easy to share large files and folders; you can share public links to your files, synchronize folders and various types of files and folders across teams, apply folder permissions and collaborate on shared folders.
You need to generate a public link for any folder or file, send it to your team members and collaborate on it. Once the recipient clicks the link, he can download the links contents without any registration. Folder permissions feature allows you to share a folder as “read-only” item, so that team members can only view the files, but cannot make changes. Individual SugarSync comes at cost of $7.49 a month.
Online file sharing and storage service, Hightail offers the ability to send large files up to 2 GB, and update project folders, as well as share and edit them with your clients and colleagues. Hightail provides mobile and desktop applications, so you can access your files wherever you are. Hightail is focused on security and offers password protection, file tracking, identity verification and 128-bit SSL encryption for files in transit and 256-bit AES encryption for files at rest. Mobile app gives you access to your files and projects, and any changes you make update instantly while your data is encrypted on its way to and from your device. Besides, you have the ability to digitally sign documents on your tablet and smartphone. The prices range from free to approximately $25 a month.
Box is a simple file-sharing service for multiplatform devices assisting you in securing and centralizing your files and folders, as well as synchronizing it with your teammates. The free personal plan allocates users 10 GB of personal storage with a limit of file upload of 250 MB. You can share presentations, documents, photos, or any kind of link, and recipient will be able to view or edit your files from his browser.
Box updates your files in real-time and sends email notification to let your teammates know when one of their group has commented on an important document, or has uploaded or downloaded important files. Box app allows you to view and share files from any mobile device. The prices range from free to $35 per month for (enterprises).
SEndspace is another file-sharing and synchronization app that allows you to send files as large as 300 MB and larger files split into parts. You can add descriptions to the files you add, enter your recipient’s name and your email address and simply click upload. As long as you have the download link, the file can be downloaded unlimited number of times, for as long as you want, by as many people as you want, as long as the download file stays active. Once downloads stop, and no one downloads the file during a set period, the file becomes inactive.
You can upload and share files without registration, but in this case, you won’t be able to see if your recipient downloaded the file. A Lite user can upload up to 1 GB per day, and the price ranges from free to $16 per month for up to 4 GB uploads per day.
As the name suggests it, this service allows sending and receiving files that are too big for regular email attachments, and the users have the ability to add up to 20 GB files. You need to add your files and folders that you want to share, and they get instantly uploaded to TransferBigFile server that generates a new transfer page. From there, you can add recipients, write a custom message and even choose if you want to receive notifications if your recipients have downloaded the file.
TransferBigFiles offers password protection and a feature that allows your recipients to share the files you shared with them. If you are using TransferBigFiles to send work to your clients, you can even customize the download page to display your brand name or logo. The prices range from free to $50 per month.
MediaFire allows you to store numerous file formats, including media files, and makes them available to you from any device, both mobile and tablet. This service allows you to share videos, songs, photos, documents, as well as collaboration projects; you can share folders and files, and control who of your teammates can edit and view them.
MediaFire offers up to 50 GB of space storage free of charge, so you can back up important files and rest assured they are stored securely. The service also features download resuming, unlimited downloads, zero wait or queue times and access from web interface, mobile applications and desktop app. The prices range from free to $25 per month.