Everything you need to know about file sharing

Most organizations have already made the switch from paper to digital files, thus taking advantage of the lower costs and time savings that come with a paperless office. Digitization aligns with the modern drive to provide employees with safe and flexible work arrangements while ensuring the safety of critical data. 

But in addition to the safe storage of digital files, another challenge can be the sharing options. Companies of all sizes and sectors need easy, fast, and secure file-sharing services. In this article, we take a closer look at this topic and give you all the information you need about file sharing.  

What is file sharing?

File sharing is the process of making digital resources, such as documents, graphics, and audio and video files available for other people with a digital device. There are multiple ways of sharing files online. In a network, the distribution of data and resources can be private or public, depending on the level of access granted. On the internet, files can be exchanged by using specific file-sharing services.

What are the types of online file sharing?

There’s always a risk that confidential information can be accessed by the public when specific files are released online. That’s why it’s better to use a secure file-sharing service instead of email to avoid potential security issues.

A wide range of file-sharing methods are available today. The following are a few of the most popular ways to store and distribute files via the internet:

Online file-sharing platforms

These types of file-sharing platforms are web applications that allow users to upload, store, exchange, and download files for professional or personal use. Often only the person who uploads the files needs to have an account. Many tools also include additional features such as commenting, annotation, and approval tools.

The setup and operation of this type of file sharing is not expensive. Hence, it allows you to incorporate flexibility and convenience in your operations. However, it is essential to choose a service with high-security standards in order to protect your data effectively.

Popular online file-sharing platforms include Dropbox, Filestage, and Box.

online file sharing

Cloud services

Cloud storage services are another option to share and store files online. When using a cloud, you can share links to the files with others so they can view and download the files.

Uploading all your content to the cloud is a convenient way to collaborate with your team as you only need to share files a single time. Then, the shared file or folder remains in your cloud storage service for as long as you want. So, shared files can be accessed whenever the user needs them.

Some cloud services, like Google Docs, also offer tools to create your content directly on their platform. That way, you don’t have to upload a file from your computer folder later; instead, the document you create will automatically remain synced to the cloud. Additionally, this type of service makes the file recovery process more convenient.

Examples of cloud services are Google Drive, One Drive, and iCloud.

Google Drive - send large files via email
Image: Google Drive

File transfer tools

Using an on-demand file transfer tool is also a convenient way to transmit data over the internet or via a local network. These file-sharing computer programs typically don’t require a user account, and following the on-screen instructions is usually very simple.

Simply upload your files, add your email address and enter the provided verification code. Then your recipients will be notified via email that they can view and download the files through a shared link. Examples of popular file transfer tools are WeTransfer and Send Anywhere.

sendanywhere - file transfer tools
Image: Send Anywhere

Compress large files

Compared to uncompressed files, zipped (compressed) files are smaller, faster to transfer, and require less storage space. In Windows, zipped and uncompressed files and folders can be used in the same way.

To make it easier to distribute a large number of files, you can compress them into a compact zipped folder. You can compress files through programs such as 7-zip, Winzip, or Filezilla.

Then, compressed files need to be sent via email to the recipient. That makes this method less safe, as sending files via email can direct viruses and malware to the recipient’s device when they download the shared content. 

WinZip - compress
Image: WinZip

Social Media platforms (for private use)

Social media platforms are another common method used to share files with others. Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger are just a few of the many social media platforms with file-sharing capabilities.

However, this method is only recommended for private use and certainly for less sensitive information since social media accounts can be compromised and hacked quite easily.

How can you securely share files online?

Especially for businesses, the security aspect is very important. Therefore, you should make sure that the tool you’re using meets the following criteria.

Businesses in North America spent $3.86 million in 2020 to recover information they lost in data breaches and leaks. This staggering sum shows how important it is that your tool offers additional security features such as password-protected accounts or links. This way you ensure that only authorized people can access your files.

Password protected sharing

Different user permission roles

When many people have access to your file-sharing platform, you should set up multiple user types with suitable permission roles, ranging from administrator to upload-only. This way you can ensure that every employee has the appropriate access needed to perform their work.

Manage folder and file permissions

It’s critical to have control over what users can and can’t do with the information you give them. When using file sharing, you need settings that allow you to restrict who may access, share, and download files and folders and also allow you to determine the access permissions each user should have.

folder and file permissions - Dropbox
Source: Dropbox

Standard encryption level and GDPR compliance

Companies need to encrypt personal data to prevent data breaches as well as future lawsuits or fines. The handling of personal data entails a certain level of risk.

This means you must implement security measures and protections for file sharing. Encryption and pseudonymization are regularly mentioned in the GDPR as “appropriate organizational and technical measures” for personal data security.

encryption level and GDPR compliance

Maximum storage for sharing large files

You must ensure that the file-sharing software you’re utilizing offers a large enough storage capacity. Videos especially can become extremely large files, so you need to be able to share large files with ease. If this is not possible, the purpose of using file-sharing computer programs will remain unfulfilled. 

Supports multiple file formats

Your file-sharing software should support all common file formats so you’re not limited based on any file type. The best way to ensure this is to create a list of all the file formats you use in your campaigns, including documents, images, videos, interactive files, designs, and more. Then when you’re looking for the right tool, compare your list with the supported file types of this tool. Even better, request a free trial and test out the file-sharing software yourself.

multiple file formats

What are the best file-sharing tools?

Sharing files has never been simpler or safer than it is today. Anyone can directly email files securely by simply sharing a link and enabling security with the touch of a button.

The following list contains the top file-sharing software options that all have a positive impact on any enterprise and make their business operations smoother:

Filestage

Filestage

Online review tools like Filestage make it easy to share, discuss, and approve files with colleagues, customers, and external partners. On the platform, you can upload and share any kind of file, including images, videos, documents, and audio files. Filestage is a great tool for file sharing, feedback management, and gathering approvals.

Features

  • Upload and share any file. 
  • Share files securely with AES 256-bit encryption.
  • Add passwords to protect your file reviews.
  • Make sure reviewers verify their email addresses.
  • Add comments and annotation directly on files.
  • Collaborate and communicate in real time.
  • Enable automated due date reminders and file versioning. 
  • Search through uploaded files and folders.

Box

Box - share video online

With Box, you can store and share folders and files, collaborate with colleagues, and even comply with specific data standards. Box is well-known for its extensive number of integrations. Slack, Google Workspace, and Office 365 are the most popular options for out-of-the-box usage. Moreover, you could extend the functionality of Box with Salesforce, Oracle NetSuite, Adobe, and other applications.

Features

  • Share files straight from Box or via links.
  • Any file type and size can be shared.
  • Before downloading, you can preview files.
  • Other security aspects include private key management.
  • Task organizer and note-taking software are built into the program. 

Dropbox

Dropbox - File Sharing Tools

Dropbox is a file storage and sharing service that includes cloud storage, client software, and file syncing and is responsible for over 1.2 billion files every day. 

Businesses can make use of the latest version of Dropbox Business that is optimized for collaboration and integration. In fact, Dropbox Business helps you to merge other technologies like Google Sheets, Docs, Dropbox Paper, MS Office, and Trello into a unified platform.

Features

  • Photoshop and Illustrator files can be viewed without the need for Adobe software.
  • Users on your contact list can be asked to send specific files.
  • Live collaboration is possible with the help of the chat feature.
  • Screenshots and recordings can be saved.

WeTransfer

WeTransfer - File Sharing Tools

WeTransfer is a file-transfer solution to transmit files quickly and easily. With WeTransfer, you can transfer files straight to the recipient without needing to register or even log in to the platform. 

Simply visit the website, type in your email address, add the recipient’s email address, upload the file, and compose a message. Moreover, WeTransfer allows you to transfer up to 2 GB of files for free.

Features

  • 1 TB of data storage is available in the cloud. 
  • It allows you to transfer files up to 200 GB.
  • You can share with up to 50 people.
  • WeTransfer Pro lets you drag and drop up to 20 GB of files. 
  • Transfers can be tracked to check the number of times they’ve been downloaded.
  • You can set access controls and passwords to secure file transfers.
  • You can also set file delete dates so that they are only available for a certain amount of time.

Conclusion 

The file-sharing tools above are specifically designed to assist you in storing, sharing, synching, and collaborating on files. Almost all of these products will give you some storage space for free to get you started.

The tools mentioned in this post are some of our favorites. When you’re looking for the right tool for your business, we recommend creating a list with all the mandatory features the tool needs to offer. Then check which tools have these features and start a free trial to find out if it’s the right fit.  

Sign up for weekly news and inspiration

Join over 40,000 marketers and creatives staying up to date with The Big Stage newsletter