Cloud File Exchange | Share and Share Alike

May 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Mike Levine

PROFESSIONAL OPTIONS FOR CLOUD-BASED STORAGE AND FILE EXCHANGE

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OUT OF SITE
In the process of researching this article, I’ve been trying a selection of the major players in both the file-delivery and file-hosting/synching categories. Here’s what I found out, starting with the file-delivery services.

YouSendIt is perhaps the best known of the file-delivery sites and makes it really easy to share files under 2 GB. This shows YouSendIt Express, its software helper application, which makes sending files easy and fast.

YouSendIt is perhaps the best known of the file-delivery sites and makes it really easy to share files under 2 GB. This shows YouSendIt Express, its software helper application, which makes sending files easy and fast.

YouSendIt offers a clean and simple interface, and makes sending files easy and secure. You can also download the free YouSendIt Express (Mac/Win) application that lets you send and receive files from your desktop, and increases upload/download speed. The Pro plan ($9.99/month) gives you a 2GB file-size limit and 2 GB of file storage. The Pro Plus plan ($14.99/month) has the same file-size limit, but gives you 6 GB of storage. Password protection of files is free on Pro Plus, but costs per use on Pro and Lite, which is the free plan. Lite limits you to 100MB files, but doesn’t force the recipient to wade through a bunch of ads, like some other free services do. On Pro and Pro Plus, YouSendIt allows you to send folders and individual files.

MediaFire allows you to send individual files of up to 10 GB.

MediaFire allows you to send individual files of up to 10 GB.

MediaFire has one big advantage over other file-delivery sites: Under its pay plans, the file-size limit is a whopping 10 GB. It also has features like drag-and-drop uploading and folder sharing. Its lowest-price paid plan is Media Pro ($9/month), which gives you 100 GB of downloaded files per month. MediaPro Silver ($19/month) gives you 250 GB, and MediaPro Gold offers 1,000 GB for $70 a month. Other features of its Pro plans include password protection, ad-free downloading for recipients and download statistics. I found its UI to be a little clunky, but overall it’s an excellent site.

Space doesn’t allow going into details on the other file-delivery sites out there, but there are quite a few, including SendSpace, 4shared, Megaupload and more.

In Dropbox, files in your Public Folder can be shared by creating download links for them.

In Dropbox, files in your Public Folder can be shared by creating download links for them.

SYNC THE HOST
Dropbox is perhaps the best known of the hosting/synching sites. Its free service gives you 2 GB of storage. Paid versions start at $9.99/month for 50 GB, and $19.99/month for 100 GB of storage. After you install Dropbox’s software, you have a Dropbox folder, which you can access from any computer, via the Web or through a mobile device using the free Dropbox app. Any changes you make from any location will be synched to your Dropbox folder. If you want to revert after the shared folder has changed, you can go back 30 days. Dropbox lets you share both files and folders with others. You can generate links from individual files in your Public Folder and send to others to download, as well as create links for media files that let recipients stream them—a very handy feature.

Unfortunately, you can’t password-protect files you send with links in Dropbox. If security is an issue, you might be better off using the folder-sharing function, for which you have to invite somebody via their email address to access the folder. They then have to sign up and log in to gain access. If you share a folder, the recipient must have a Dropbox account with enough space to handle the folder. If not, he/she will need to purchase more. All Dropbox files are encrypted on both the upload and download.

SugarSync, like Dropbox, has mobile apps that let you access and send files. This one is for the iPad.

SugarSync, like Dropbox, has mobile apps that let you access and send files. This one is for the iPad.

SugarSync functions similarly to Dropbox, letting you share folders and files (the latter by sending links), store files and sync between computers. Like Dropbox, you can access files through its mobile apps. There’s no file-size limitation for sharing in SugarSync, as long as you don’t exceed your storage amount. SugarSync lets you assign any folder on your computer for synching rather than having to move it into a designated folder, as Dropbox requires. In addition to encryption for all file transfers, SugarSync has a nice security feature when sharing folders, allowing you to designate them as read-only if you want, and letting you password-protect them. (Like Dropbox, you can’t password-protect individual files that you send using the linking feature.)

Another advantage is that SugarSync’s free site gives you 5 GB of storage, as compared to Dropbox’s 2 GB. Its interface isn’t as graphically slick as Dropbox, but it’s easy to use and its Help documents are better. Although it does require the people you share folders with to sign up, they don’t need to have equivalent storage in their account to accommodate the folder being shared, like with Dropbox. Instead, they only need a free account. Storage plans include 30 GB ($4.99/month), 60 GB ($9.99/month), 100 GB ($14.99/month), 250 GB ($24.99/month) and 500 GB ($39.99/month). Business plans, which let you designate official users other than yourself, are available starting at $29.99/month for 100 GB and up to three users.

Apple’s iDisk (Mac) feature in its MobileMe service is another popular option. It costs $99 a year, and iDisk functionality—which gives you a cloud-based hard drive—is included. You get 20 GB of space (which also needs to cover storage for your email, but can be expanded) and 200 GB of monthly transfers. You can share files from your iDisk with password-protected links that you email to recipients. According to Apple, if you’re running OS 10.6.5 or later, iDisk transfers are encrypted. As with Dropbox and SugarSync, iDisk files can be accessed and shared with a free iOS app (MobileMe iDisk). Your iDisk files will be synched between your various computers and iOS devices.






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