File Sharing Services Follow-Up

By on Jun 28, 2012

I received some great feedback and questions regarding file sharing services in the last TechTips issue, A Fresh Look at File Sharing Services. I’d like to share some with you.

“I’m surprised you didn’t mention Google Drive (used to be Google Docs). I signed up for the 100 GB and it’s very cost effective and works great.”
– An agency in Idaho

“I was wondering if you’ve looked at Google’s recently renamed Docs, now called Drive, in depth. Also, do you have any insight on the use of Google Business Apps? Thanks for your time.”
– An agency in Iowa

The new Google Drive service is an extension of their Apps product line. With Google Drive you can currently store 5GB in Google Drive, 1GB in Picasa, and 10GB in Gmail for free. Pricing begins at $2.49 per month for 25GB and goes all the way up to $799 per month for 16TB. Security is always an issue and Google Drive does allow for 2-factor authentication along with the rest of your Google account.

Microsoft SkyDrive is also a new alternative that I did not mention. This service provides the largest free storage at 7GB. It’s currently available for Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Mac OS X Lion.

A couple of comments asked about security of the information that an agency would store on any of these services.

“Since submissions would contain ‘personal information,’ wouldn’t the regulations requiring us to maintain physical control over the systems where we store our data and/or transmit it have to be considered? I checked out a few of the websites you mentioned; I see where their offices are, but where are their storage facilities? Could they be in a foreign country? Are contents of the files encrypted while moving?”
– An agency in Massachusetts

(Massachusetts currently has the most stringent 
data security and breach notification laws).

The following describes one agency’s solution to creating their own sharing service.

“People just need to get the job done wherever they are with whatever device they have at the time. My feeling is that some things involve sensitive data and are too important to trust to an outside service.

“We are using a Terminal Server vs. public cloud, to provide the sales folks (and certain others) with the files, emails, workers’ comp advisory group docs, their newsletters, TAM eTfile @vantage etc. while they are out of the office.

“I created a COMPANY share on our SBS2011 (Microsoft Small Business Server) which all users have access to, and added folders to categorize the items in it that any employee should have access to. I created a STAT-SHARE for each user that only they can access the contents of on the SBS2011. (So I could back their files up.)

“Using remote desktop on their laptops, or Jump Desktop on their iPad, the mobile force can work with whatever they need. SBS2011 includes Exchange 2010, and it’s very easy to increase the default email size and mailbox size to fill their needs as they grow.

“This seems to be working for us, and Chris has now asked me to add his MS-Office My Document files to his share so that’s available for him wherever, so I’ll be adding that folder and subfolders to his STAT-SHARE.

“Most of the applications they use at the office also work for them on their virtual desktops once they are connected with a few clicks and familiar login.

“If we were larger, it would probably make sense to investigate some kind of cloudware that would let us move the COMPANY share to the cloud. There’s no personal information in there or sensitive data, just useful information.”

Another service mentioned:

“We have GlobalSCAPE, based in San Antonio, Texas. We got it last year but they have to do all the setup of files/folders/rights, which is not efficient for us. They were rated really high in the research I did. We were concerned about the security of our data and were impressed with them.”
– An agency in California

And finally, Dropbox received some positive comments:

“Steve, I am a big fan of Dropbox. I’ve found a way to use it on an iPad 2. I simply logged on to my Dropbox account on Safari, then clicked on a file in one of my Dropbox folders. The Word file displayed in a Safari browser window. There probably are other ways to use Dropbox on the iPad, but this is a way I found to look at one file I refer to repeatedly.”
– A consultant in Virginia

“Just finished reading your article on File Sharing. I’ve personally been using Dropbox for several months but we have not endorsed it for the agency at this point. I guess my main concern is the overall security of these type services. Are they safe to use for sensitive information? I suppose they are as safe as any cloud service but I’m still a little hesitant.”
– An agency in North Carolina

Thanks for the feedback and the suggestions! As cloud computing continues to grow, exploring the options for making information available to those who need it — anytime, anywhere — will continue to be important.

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