A Fresh Look at File Sharing Services
It is becoming increasingly difficult to send and share large files. A relatively simple new prospect submission to a carrier can grow to 10MB in size quickly.
File sharing (synchronization) services allow you to create a virtual folder to store files and then allow remote access to those files from any Web browser. These services also allow stored files to be synchronized between computers, tablets, or smart phones. This helps to ensure that files you are working on are instantly accessible to other people you have allowed access.
Another possible benefit of file sharing services is file backup. Your files are on your local computer (or server) and also stored online — so they are backed up.
Each of the following file synchronization services provides a variety of features, and some offer features others don’t have.
Dropbox is simple to install. You download a small program to your computer (or app to your smart phone), which then connects your online Dropbox service to the shared folder(s) on your computer’s hard disk. When you save a file to the Dropbox folder, it will appear in the synchronized Dropbox folder on any authorized device. Any authorized user can also visit Dropbox.com and access files through their browser.
To share files, you first create a folder in Dropbox and then invite others to that folder. Only you and those you choose to share files with can access files in that folder.
DropBox offers 2GB for free, or you can pay $10 month for 50GB or $20 a month for 100GB.
SugarSync works very similar to Dropbox and enables you to share files and folders. With SugarSync, you can share any folder on your backup. With Dropbox, one folder is designated as the Dropbox folder, but if you want to share a folder that is in your MyDocuments folder called Photos, you must bring it to your Dropbox folder. SugarSync lets you synchronize any folder on your computer.
You get 5GB for free with SugarSync or you pay $5 a month for 30GB, $10 a month for 60GB or $15 a month for 100GB.
Box is similar to those described above. What sets this service apart is that it has a lot of features beyond just file sharing. For example, Box can provide an embeddable HTML code for the files you store online that you can use to provide direct access to the file. Box gives you an easy way to manage file versions, post comments and discussions related to files/folders, assign others to review, approve or update a file as well as additional task management features. There is also seamless integration with Google Docs.
With Box, you get one user and 5GB free. For $15 per user per month, you get 3-500 users and up to 1,000GB with a 2GB file size limit. The paid version gives you a lot more features, including faster file size uploads and full text search of files.
I have used YouSendIt for a while as a simple and fast way to send large files — and it’s still great for doing that. But it recently added the ability to share folders. With the folder sharing feature, you create folders inside a main YouSendIt folder on your desktop and then provide access to these folders to other people. They can access your shared folders via the Web, a mobile device or computer. It has also added e-signature capability.
You get 2GB with a 500MB size limit and five e-signatures for free. For $10 a month you get 5GB of storage and file size limits of 2GB with 10 e-signatures, and for $15 a month you get unlimited storage, unlimited e-signatures and a 2GB file size limit.
What other file sharing services do you use or have you experimented with? Leave a comment below and let me know.