Although there are several ways to share files over the Internet, attaching them to email is perhaps the most popular and prevalent mechanism.
That was until Dropbox burst into the scene and revolutionized the process of sharing files. Moreover, the files no longer existed inside isolated silos and were now omnipresent and could be accessed from anywhere.
File sharing has come a long way in recent years and it’s important to note that Dropbox is no longer the only player in town.
There are plenty of other good services that enable you to host your private files and exchange them with others without much fuss.
Best for privacy conscious users
Mega’s main draw is its use of end-to-end encryption to ensure the security of the files in your account. The best thing about the service is that it offers this feature on its free account as well.
The service offers four plans with different amounts of storage capacity and transfer limits. The cheapest called Pro Lite costs €4.99/month and offers 400 GB of storage and 1 TB of transfer bandwidth, while Pro III on the other end of the spectrum costs €29.99/month and offers 16 TB of storage and 16 TB of transfer bandwidth.
You can explore the service by signing up for a Free plan that offers a decent 15 GB of storage. Note however that Free accounts have a dynamic bandwidth, which means their transfer quota fluctuates.
Mega’s web interface is well laid out and the service also offers cross-platform desktop apps that you can use on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux as well as smartphone apps for Android and iOS. You can transfer files and share them with ease from both the web interface and the desktop app and can even preview certain types of files without downloading them first.
Best for sharing media
Although you can use pCloud to share any type of file, the service is particularly skilled at managing media files. The service includes audio and video players to help you stream the shared media files straight from pCloud itself. You can even use the audio player to create and manage playlists.
Another specialty of pCloud are social media backups. You can ask the service to connect to your accounts on popular social media services such as Facebook and Instagram and backup media hosted there into your pCloud account.
For $3.99/month you get 500 GB of storage space while $7.99/month will get you 2 TB. You can subscribe for a longer period to reduce the monthly payments or choose the one-time payment option that’s valid for 99 years.
The service also has a free account that can share and sync files upto 10 GB. All pCloud accounts, whether free or paid, offer the same set of features. However there are a couple of add-on services that you can subscribe to for added benefits.
Best email attachment alternative
Unlike all the other services in this guide, ZippyShare is the only one that’s completely free to use and offers no paid plans whatsoever. Although it means ZippyShare doesn’t have many of the conveniences of its peers, it is still quite a decent service that can be used to send non-sensitive files that are too big for email.
ZippyShare offers unlimited hosting space and has no bandwidth cap on the downloads. But there are some riders. For one, individual uploads cannot be larger than 500 MB in size. Secondly, if any of the uploaded files haven’t been downloaded for a month, ZippyShare will remove them for good.
Also, the interface of the service is fairly barebones and so is its feature set. The free service sustains itself by displaying advertisements, particularly on the downloads page. Interestingly you can use ZippyShare to transfer and share files without even spending time registering yourself with the service.
While this feature is good for quickly sharing the odd file or two, if you plan on using the service regularly it’s best to register an account to get access to some useful features, such as the use of its rudimentary Windows-only desktop app.
Best for housing backups
While 1fichier also offers unlimited storage, make sure you pay attention to how it classifies it between cold and hot storage. Files in your unlimited hot storage area that haven’t been downloaded for the last two months are moved to the cold storage, which clocks in at 2 TB. Once that runs out of space, 1fichier will automatically remove the oldest files.
You can however purchase additional cold storage for as low as €2/TB/month. That’s on top of the regular plans that cost €3/month or €15/year or €60/five years or €100/10 years. There’s also a Free plan that comes with a very generous 1 TB of storage space and all of the good features of the service. The only downside is that Free accounts have some download restrictions.
The unique feature of the service is that it can be used as a professional Content Delivery Network (CDN) to share your files. In fact, the paid plans include 100 GB worth of monthly CDN credits.
The service also supports two factor authentication and can password protect uploaded files. Advanced users will also appreciate its access control features that you can use to, for instance, restrict downloads to specific IP or a range of addresses.
Best for collaboration
Unlike the other services in this guide, 4shared is unique in adding several features to encourage its users to use their shared content in a collaborative fashion.
4shared offers 100 GB of storage along and 100 GB of monthly transfer bandwidth. It costs $9.95/month but will be cheaper if you subscribe for a longer duration. The service supports Secure FTP connections to help you transfer a large number of files securely.
4shared is also unique in its support for the WebDAV protocol, which helps you access your 4shared account like a regular folder. The Free account of the service comes with 15 GB of storage space, though it’ll delete Free accounts if they haven’t been accessed in the last 180 days.
4shared enables you to preview common media file types. Best of all you can even edit text files without downloading them. On top of that, you can edit them collaboratively with your friends by giving them access to your files. In the same vein, you can also get others to upload and edit content inside your shared folders.
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