Home Cloud Computing 10 top file-sharing services: Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, and more

10 top file-sharing services: Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, and more

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Back in the pre-cloud days, sharing files involved using file transfer protocol applications or else copying files to a disc and then mailing it or walking it over to a colleague (affectionately known as ‘sneakernet’). Emails could also be sent (and many people still use email as their main “file-sharing” option), but size limits on attachments and security concerns discouraged this practice.

Today’s world of file sharing offers nearly endless options. Giants like Dropbox, Box, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, as well as smaller companies like MediaFire and Tresorit, all offer online cloud storage options that include file sharing, synchronization across multiple devices, and collaboration features. Once you have uploaded a file to one of these services, file-sharing is as easy as clicking a “share” button and then sending the link to a colleague via email. While most offer desktop and mobile applications, users can also upload, store, sync, and share files via a web browser.

The services we’ve chosen are listed here in alphabetical order and cover a range of options, from basic services for consumers to enterprise-level services. This is not an exhaustive list of all services, but rather a sampling of the big players and some lesser-known vendors.

To check file transfer times for each, we uploaded a 245MB ZIP file using an internet connection with an average upload speed of 86 megabits/second. (See “How we tested.”)

Box

file sharing apps box IDG

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It’s nearly impossible to talk about Box without mentioning Dropbox (and vice versa), as the two are frequently pitted against each other. Box has always been geared toward businesses and enterprises, while Dropbox used to be largely focused on consumers and SMBs. But both services now include enterprise collaboration features and cloud content management via integrations with Google Workspace, Microsoft 365/Office 365, and many others, along with enterprise-grade security and management options.

There is a free plan for individudals that lets you kick the tires — it offers 10GB of storage, a 250MB file upload limit, and the ability to share these files with limited permissions. The file upload size limit is a bit strict if you are trying to share video files, but the 10GB storage limit is still pretty generous. Additionally, all of Box’s business plans offer a 14-day free trial.