10 Feb, 2021

Best File Sharing Platforms in 2021

Sharing and collaborating: Two key ingredients when it comes to teamwork and success.

Nodifi takes a look at six popular file sharing platforms designed to help your team’s success.

Firstly, what are file sharing platforms?

Their mission is to allow users to send, receive and edit things like documents, photos and videos, spreadsheets and presentations.

But it’s not that simple.

These platforms need to allow for secure sharing, (i.e., to selected people), plus:

  • Allow multiple people to edit, add and comment on data.

  • Allow the files to be accessed on different devices.

  • Allow quick transfers, even for large HD videos. 

  • And keep it all easy, fast and seamless.

A tall order, but here are six platforms that pull it off:

Google Drive

Pricing: 
FREE: 15GB with a standard account
$2.49 / month for 100GB
$4.39 / month for 200GB
$12.49 / month for 2TB

(FYI: 1 Terabyte (TB) is about 500 hours of HD video)

Devices: Mobile, tablet and desktop
Collaboration: Allows users to share files and documents and edit them on separate devices.
Cloud-Based: Yes

Google needs no introduction. The tech giant has an incredible suite and applications and Drive is no exception. Since launching in 2012, Google Drive has become the most used cloud storage service on the planet. Drive’s 15GB free storage is huge for the average user and one of the most generous out there. 

The biggest attraction with Drive is that it allows users to integrate with all other Google apps like Sheets, Gmail, Calendar and Meet - Google’s video conferencing app. This means that you’ll be able to seamlessly share and work on these apps.

Ideal For: Users familiar with the Google Suite and editing and working on Google Docs and Sheets on the go.

Dropbox

Pricing: 
FREE: 2GB with standard account
$17.50 / user / month, starting at 3 users
$27.50 / user / month, starting at 3 users
Both options include a 30-day free trial

Devices: Mobile, tablet and desktop
Collaboration: Allows users to share files and documents and edit them on separate devices.
Cloud-Based: Yes

The original cloud storage app, Dropbox. Did you know that Dropbox was founded in 2007 by MIT students? With all that experience and the constant evolution and addition of new features, it’s no wonder the platform is so popular. Take advantage of the free 30-day trial offered to get an idea of how the features can benefit your team.

A benefit of Dropbox is that it allows files to be edited without having to download and then re-upload the whole file per edit. In other words, if you make an edit on a colleague’s image-heavy presentation or large, 1000 page report for example, Dropbox will only edit those bytes that were changed, rather than re-uploading the whole file. This is called ‘Binary diff’.

Dropbox also has a ‘remote wipe’ feature that clears files in the event a device is stolen - an important feature is you’re sharing financials and sensitive information.

Ideal For: Users who share and edit large files.

Microsoft OneDrive

Pricing:
FREE: Storage only 5 GB
$3.00 / month: Storage only 100 GB
$10.00 / month: 1 TB (1000 GB), Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype
$13.00 / month: 6 TB total (1000 GB per person / 6 users), Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype

Devices: Mobile, tablet and desktop
Collaboration: Allows users to share files and documents and edit them on separate devices.
Cloud-Based: Yes

For users familiar with Microsoft and its suite of apps, OneDrive is a solid solution. The brag is the clear and professional interface - the least you’d expect from a company like Microsoft. The platform is available on Macs, Androids, iOS devices. 

If you and your team already have a Microsoft account, they’ll have a OneDrive account - this includes anyone who’s ever signed up for a Hotmail or Live email account too.

A standout feature of OneDrive is its popular document scanning. It allows you to scan, sign, and send important paperwork like contracts and forms without printing, as well as ID cards and other paper documents. The feature uses your phone’s camera to scan the documents.

Make sure that if you’re going to pay, you’ll be using the apps it includes. 

Ideal For: Users familiar with and already using Microsoft, especially Word and Excel.

Box

Pricing:
$7 / month: Up to 100 GB of storage, collaboration with up to 10 users
$21 / month: Unlimited storage, collaboration across your entire organization
$35 / month: Unlimited storage, unlimited external collaborators
$49 / month: Unlimited storage, unlimited external collaborators, unlimited app integrations

Devices: Mobile, tablet and desktop
Collaboration: Allows users to share files and documents and edit them on separate devices.
Cloud-Based: Yes

Box is aimed at large-scale businesses and corporate users more so than SMEs. The platform focuses on syncing files inside a dedicated folder as opposed to backing up whole systems and hard drives. In other words, Box doesn’t backup everything on your computer, just the things you tell it to - which are files you select.

Box integrates well with other operating systems like Windows and macOS. This means, when using File Explorer or Finder, you’ll see the Box folder alongside allowing you to easily add files to be shared.

Box also offers a strong support base for its users. Webinars, events and training (among others) for example, are on offer.

Ideal For: Business and corporate users.

Hightail

Pricing:
FREE: Upload files up to 100MB / 2GB storage
$15.58 / month: Additional security settings / upload files up to 25GB / unlimited storage
$31.16 / month: For small team collaboration / upload files up to 50GB / unlimited storage
$46.74 / month: For the whole company / upload files up to 500GB / unlimited storage

Devices: Mobile, tablet and desktop
Collaboration: Allows users to share files and documents and edit them on separate devices.
Cloud-Based: Yes

Hightail has creativity in the file-sharing crosshairs. For example, the user interface shows visual thumbnail previews rather than only a file name. Additionally, Hightail allows users to comment on certain parts of a video or image - i.e., add a note at the 36-second point in a video to tell a colleague the lighting is too dark.

You can also highlight specific parts of a video or image to comment on. This makes projects like email marketing and social media images easy to collaborate on.

A top mention is the approval feature. This allows team members to send files to be reviewed and approved by others. For example, a payment breakdown may need double-checking by a supervisor.

Ideal For: Users who work heavily with marketing material, images and videos.

WeTransfer

FREE: No storage, send up to 2 GB, link transfers to unlimited people
$16.87 / month: 1 TB storage, send and receive up to 20 GB / password protected transfers / your own Pro page and URL / customize your page and emails

Devices: Mobile, tablet and desktop
Collaboration: No, this platform only focuses on file transfer
Cloud-Based: Yes

WeTransfer is a little different from the platforms listed above. If you’ve ever tried to send multiple large files via email (like documents or images) only for a ‘too big’ message to appear, WeTransfer is the answer.

The platform allows you to send a large file directly to another person - no fuss, no accounts (for the free version), no error messages. In other words, on the WeTransfer website, simply enter the file recipient’s email address, your email address and upload the file. Upon uploading the file, you’ll receive a confirmation and another once the recipient has downloaded it.

The paid version provides the ability to send files up to 20GB, so if your team creates large, video and image-laden presentations, this option might be a good solution.

Another nice feature of WeTransfer is password protection. You can also decide how long files are available to download for, i.e., a day, month, or forever.

Ideal For: Users who want a premium file sharing service that isn’t hindered by sizes limits.

File Sharing for You

If your team regularly works from home, is on-the-go or even finds themselves sending emails to one another with attachments for collaboration, the above platforms may be your answer.
Ideally, aiming for something simple to use and understand that caters to your business needs is the way to go.

Nodifi has found that for simple image-less text documents (like bank statements), and small images (like ID photos), a free option will suffice. On the other hand, for a creative team that deals with presentations and photo-heavy advertising material, like a marketing team, a paid option that can handle larger files is ideal.

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