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Best Cloud Storage and File Sharing Service for Small Business
Updated: Mar 04, 2021 / Article by: Timothy Shim
File sharing sites have become increasingly popular over the past few years and the popularity has spread over into business use. These sites now offer businesses a secure and convenient way to share files with partners and sometimes even customers.
Why Use a Cloud Storage / File Sharing Service?
The days when email was enough to move files around as attachments are long gone. Even documents today are richer in quality and larger in size thanks to the ability of many word processors to embed other files within.
Because of these reasons and more, Cloud storage services have sprung up and are growing like weeds. The quality and speed of Internet lines have made them a seriously viable option both for personal use as well as business.
Some Cloud storage and file sharing companies have even added extra features, either placing their core capabilities within an advanced workflow ecosystem or even having business-specific uses such as regulation compliance.
Yet despite all these features and characteristics, the most basic reason to be considering the use of one is to increase the reliability of your business. Backups are the key and anything extra is simply icing on the cake.
15 Best Cloud Storage and File Sharing Services
When it comes to business, rather than size, there are specific needs that usually need to be catered to. These range from price to team collaboration and not all can be found in each service. These services aren’t exactly equal but can be used in similar ways.
pCloud for business adds functionality to the usual Cloud-based file sharing by allowing users to easily anoint files and folders with comments. All activity is also monitored and logged so that administrators can review them at any time.
Perhaps the two key characteristics about pCloud though is that it is more generous in the storage space offered and you can also opt to pay in two different modes. The first is what most Cloud storage brands work like – payments on a monthly basis. The unique part is that you can also opt to pay a one-off lifetime fee instead.
Business features include a white label front that you can rebrand as your own so that customers see shared files in a system that looks like it belongs to you. That alone gives it a one-up on many other business Cloud storage services.
If you’ve used OneDrive before, chances are that you get used to Sync very quickly. The app integrates with devices easily and shows itself as a folder on your system. From there, files can be saved to the Cloud and shared easily with both co-workers and clients alike.
For sharing it’s good to note that all you will need to provide is a link to the file or folder you wish to share – your counterpart doesn’t need a Sync account to access it. Individual users get the short end of the stick with accounts at $10 per month but Sync really is designed for businesses in mind.
Companies can benefit from lower price-per-user plans which come with administrative management tools that will let you manage all accounts from a single point of view. This includes adding and removing users, resetting passwords, checking activity logs, and more.
Sync Pricing: Business Plans start from $10 per month
There’s no doubt that Microsoft is king both in Operating Systems and business applications. Because of this powerful ecosystem, it can be incredibly tempting to work with OneDrive for Business, especially when it comes so well integrated into many Microsoft products such as Windows and Office.
OneDrive for Business lets you store documents and other files in the Cloud and work on them there no matter where you are. It also enables key business features such as sharing and collaboration, all secured by encryption that complies with the security needs that most organizations have.
OneDrive for Business Pricing: From $5 per month
Microsoft ecosystem integration
May not integrate well with non-Microsoft products
Where the consumer version of Dropbox offers mostly just storage space in the Cloud, Dropbox for business is a beast of a different nature. Building on its basic storage capabilities, Dropbox for Business adds in the vital element of collaboration.
It offers business users a single point of view that organizes entire working spaces combining content and tool. You can sync and work on local files, cloud-based content, and Dropbox’s Paper docs easily and share them with your team.
Dropbox for Business Pricing: From $12.50 / user / month
Where Microsoft rules the Operating System and Office, Google rules the Web and mobile. As such it is a serious contender when it comes to the Cloud space, especially with the extensive and agile G Suite of applications.
Google Drive works well in that ecosystem and can be used not just for file storage but also teamwork and collaboration on documents. It further sweetens the deal with online tools that let you work with all those files from any browser that has an Internet connection – or even offline.
Google Drive for Business Pricing: From $5.40 / user / month
FileCloud is where the big boys play and offer a complete range of Cloud Storage solutions to business users. It wasn’t designed for the average consumers and even at the low end of the scale, it helps create a secure file sharing environment for entire servers.
It helps companies built their own ecosystem of file sharing servers and associated client accounts, letting them retain full management and ownership of the data. This is vital in some organizations and even in some countries to comply with data regulation laws for business. Of course, you can also opt to make use of their servers as well.
ShareFile by Citrix is another business-specific Cloud storage system that integrates many features vital to big businesses. This includes not just file sharing and collaborative features but an abundance of controls for better governance.
It helps in the automation of workflow which can be customized for each organization’s specific needs. Controllers can monitor document flow and intercede in real-time, giving their feedback or even carrying out approvals or making changes.
Uniquely, the system can support the recognition of legally binding e-signatures across the entire system and real-time tracking plus high levels of encryption to secure it all.
Based in the US, Box is another business-oriented Cloud storage system highly geared towards content management. It works not just within a company’s ecosystem but also extends collaborative and sharing features towards partners and clients.
The system is highly secure and complies with a ton of corporate governance requirements including global regulations such as GDPR, HIPPA, and more. Aside from storage and collaboration, Box also has a solid reporting system to handle the entire workflow.
Trying to spread itself across a wide user audience, Hightail has a variety of plans suitable for both individuals as well as businesses. Yet rather than focus its energies on Cloud storage or sending large files, it tries to do both with some strange results.
For example, although it enables the sending of large files the exact use of this feature isn’t exactly certain since there is also unlimited storage space on paid plans. A simple link share would work well rather than having the questionable option to send files of over 100GB in size.
Where hightail has multi-purpose objectives, SugarSync is very singular minded. Instead of offering true business advantage features this provider concentrates on offering staggering amounts of storage space at varying prices.
It behaves very much like the sync-and-store many Cloud storage services have with some basic editing and collaborative features. The good point is that it is outstanding in something a lot of companies could do better – simplicity.
WeTransfer is a very simple service that allows you to share single, large files via a link. The free version of the service supports up to 2GB files – a number that increases if you upgrade to WeTranfer Pro.
It’s easy to use and involves uploading a file then allowing others to access it via a URL. While there are security features built-in, WeTransfer is mainly for file sharing and doesn’t include collaborative tools.
While seemingly of lesser stature compared to big names like Dropbox and Google Drive, MediaFire remains a popular Cloud storage option. It offers a broad service that’s available on multiple platform types and allows for 10GB storage with a maximum of 4GB per file.
The space limitation doesn’t restrict concurrent uploads so you can share thousands of files easily. MediaFire also has a document management system and file sharing can be done via one-time links.
Surprisingly, Zippyshare allows for the sharing of an unlimited amount of files. Given that storage space and bandwidth aren’t exactly cheap, this is rather unusual for a smaller company that offers the service as a core product.
The caveat though is that files can only be retained for a limited time. This makes it unsuitable for use in some cases such as archival. Still, if you simply need to share for short periods, Zippyshare has its benefits.
Send Anywhere, as the name implies, really does offer multiple send options. Instead of only offering cloud storage and linka access you can also send files device-to-device, and even transfer bulky files via email.
They recently rebranded the paid version of their service as Sendy PRO, bumping up many features. This includes unlimited link storage, one terabyte of cloud storage, and even more sharing options for users.
Send Anywhere Pricing: Free/ Sendy PRO $7.99 per month
Egnyte offers centralized control over file sharing activities which helps reduce management cost and IT overhead. The singular access platform means unified access no matter what kind of devices you need to deploy.
Perhaps its most attractive feature is the inclusion of robust security with encryption and multiple access control features over files. It’s simply a unified storage and sharing service for all file types.
Many years ago sending large files over the Internet used to be a major problem. There are many more ways this can work now, thanks to increasing bandwidth and more advanced technologies.
What hasn’t changed though is the essence of file sharing – You want someone to be able to use a file you have in hand.
Interesting Cloud Storage and File Sharing Stats
While not entirely relevant to the key topic at hand, file-sharing has come a long way and given rise to some interesting statistics. Some of them may help you decide if file-sharing services are right for your business.
Google Drive is the most popular file-sharing service with close to 35% market share.
McAfee found that 87% of companies experienced a business boost from using Cloud services.
One Terabyte of data costs approximately $3,351 to store for a year.
Types of File Sharing Technologies
To give a better idea of why we list Cloud storage and file-sharing services together, we need to understand that there are various ways of achieving the same thing. While both services may be marketed in different ways, you simply want multiple users to gain access to certain files.
Some of the things involved can include:
File Transfer Protocol
This data transfer protocol was introduced to help move large chunks of data across networks. Today it remains one of the most popular means for file transfer. It can be done either via the command line or through specialized File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients like FileZilla.
Peer to Peer
While file download buffs often refer to it as “Torrenting”, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file transfer is a more accurate name. P2P is the sharing of data using an index file, with the actual data being distributed across multiple client systems. Essentially, it is a distributed file storage system.
In a similar fashion to P2P, Cloud Services work on a distributed SaaS computing model. However, rather than an index file, Cloud services offer a one-stop repository for files that can have shared access. Examples of this include Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive, where file access permissions can be controlled.
Choosing the Best File Sharing Option
Whether you’re an individual or a business, we all have different needs. That is why so many options exist despite sometimes having small differences. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow when choosing the best file-sharing option for yourself.
Naturally, the price can be an overriding factor, especially if you need to pay for multiple users. If you need multiple users, keep a close eye on the price-per-user as it may drop based on volume with some service providers.
For business users security should be a top priority. You need to be able to distribute files to only the people mandated and prevent unauthorized access. Make sure the services you’re looking at offer comprehensive security – and privacy – options.
One problem with file-sharing services is that they don’t always support every device available. The bigger your distribution base the higher a chance this may occur. Make sure you match the devices supported with your main needs before opting for a service.
Secure File Sharing Tips for Business
There are basic guidelines you should observe if you intend to share files with employees or even clients. Here are some best practices to ensure that your file-sharing activities remain secure.
Audits are necessary to ensure you know who is sharing (and accessing) the files you share.
Keep close track of file permissions and not everything is meant for complete access.
Use services that include end-to-end encryption so data can; ’t get intercepted and stolen.
Ideally, ensure a system is in place that can manage and document file versions.
Avoid overly technical naming and keep filenames human readable.
Pros and Cons of File Sharing
File sharing makes things very convenient but it isn’t always an ideal solution, especially fro business use. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind when opting for a file-sharing service.
Pros of File Sharing
Easily transfer large volumes of data
Often enables collaborative work
Reduces risk of centralized storage
Cons of File Sharing
May increase bandwidth costs
Can make complying with data location restrictions challenging
Increased risk of malware or file tampering
Free versus Paid Options
Many services today work on a freemium model. That means you can, in fact, technically use some Cloud storage or file-sharing services at no cost. No cash payments don’t mean you’re getting off scot-free though.
Almost without exception, any service that’s free will extract payment in some other form – typically your personal data. By making use of the information you provide, most services will be able to use that data in many ways.
Some may direct ads your way, while others may even sell or otherwise provide your data to third parties. Not exactly the thing you want to happen.
Conclusion: How Vital is Cloud Storage to Your Business?
As you can probably tell from the list of these Cloud storage and file sharing providers, there is a great discrepancy in the breadth of services which each service providers offer. Some excel at a consumer level, while others go the whole hog to cater to business users.
The key element in choosing the perfect service provider for yourself or business is the same as it is always – consider carefully your needs. As an example of this, while Box offers extremely detailed features, not all businesses will need to comply with many regulations and such. In cases like this, a more consumer-friendly option might be a better choice, such as the basic Google ecosystem.
List down exactly what you think your business requires before making a selection, you might save yourself a ton of grief over facing multiple features you don’t use and yet pay for.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.