Why you might want a secure file-sharing service now that you’re working from home

When we were all in the office, many of us were connected to the office network. We didn’t need to think much about sharing files. But now that we’re scattered across the landscape, sharing important files securely can require careful planning. Here’s why you might want to use powerful file sharing services to share sensitive files securely, so you can collaborate better no matter where you’re working.

Probably the easiest way to share a file is to simply attach a document to an email, Slack, or other instant message. But either way it invites trouble on several fronts. If you rely too much on your email or messaging system, your poorly archived files could be available to nosy hackers with phishing lures. If you’re sharing traditional documents that way, you could also quickly find yourself playing the “who has the latest version” game. It’s hard to keep track of updates when multiple people are working on the same document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

While built-in collaboration tools like Google Workspace or Microsoft OneDrive (or something equivalent depending on your email identity) can solve the version control problem, and may be your only option if your company insists, they can become cumbersome on the spot. when your team expands further. your office domain. You may inadvertently share the document with people who shouldn’t see it or block someone who needs access. The more complicated you make your sharing situation, the greater the potential for a bug where the world (or perhaps family members) gain access to your files. We’ve all seen the news where a database or collection of documents falls into the wrong hands because someone didn’t apply proper security. Some companies won’t take a chance: With one of my clients, I had to get a new email address at their domain to share their Google Docs.

In addition to Google Workspace and OneDrive, there are more than a dozen different providers of personal file-sharing services, including Apple’s Dropbox, Box, and iCloud. Many of these are free or nearly free for minimal use. But if you’re looking at these services, everyone in your sharing circle needs to use two-factor authentication (like Authy) to access them, not just a username and password. Still, they’re often second-rate when it comes to user experience (Dropbox’s collaboration features can be confusing, iCloud and Windows have a complicated relationship, and Box’s file preview feature doesn’t make a great job). They’re suitable for one-time sharing or file sharing on your own devices, but they’re not my preferred solution.

Instead, you should consider an enterprise-grade cloud-based file sharing service, one that adds more layers of protection by encrypting your data and has streamlined access control. Egnyte, SecureDocs, ShareFile, and SugarSync are just a few of the more popular services; Here’s a table with a rough comparison of how much they cost and what they offer to get you started:

Comparison of popular services for secure file sharing

Seller monthly prices max. Upload file Free trial period Application Integration
Seller monthly prices max. Upload file Free trial period Application Integration
egnyte $20/user 100GB 15 days Extensive
SecureDocs $250 for unlimited users Unlimited 14 days Limited
ShareFile/Citrix $50 for unlimited users 100GB 30 days Extensive
SugarSync $55 for 3 users 300 GB for web clients 30 days* Limited

*Credit card required to activate free trial

Regardless of which you choose, here’s what to look for when searching for a secure file sharing service:

  • Automatic file synchronization for all users on all devices, including integration with Windows Explorer and MacOS’s Finder, so you can browse shared directories and keep local copies for quick access.
  • Compatibility with Android, iOS and web clients to explore shared directories and folders on the go.
  • end-to-end encryption. If someone manages to download your files without your login, they shouldn’t be able to do anything with them. ShareFile also has an Outlook plugin that encrypts your files as an added feature.
  • Additional login security. SecureDocs requires additional authentication by default for all your logins, while the others I mention have it as an option. Setting this up is as simple as scanning a QR code on a smartphone app, as shown below:

  • Easy to disable public sharing options, or that make it difficult to inadvertently choose to share publicly.
  • Permissions and customizable access rights to ensure the right file collections are shared by the right people. Egnyte, for example, has numerous controls to add a password to your file, allow or disable downloads, and notifications, as you can see in the screenshot below:

  • audit trails to discover and fix when someone accidentally shares a file with the entire Internet, or so you can quickly delete a shared file if it’s no longer needed.

Many of these products have free trials (of the ones I mentioned above, all but SugarSync don’t require any payment details), and you can use those periods to evaluate them. Asking yourself these questions should also help you choose:

  • Do you regularly share very large files?, such as videos or illustrated PowerPoint documents? Some services impose limits on individual files; SugarSync, for example, has a limit on the upload size of the web client.
  • What other software tools work with the file sharing service? Some (like Egnyte) integrate with Salesforce, Google Workspace, and Slack, making it easy to share files as part of your normal workflows. Check the fine print if this is important to you.
  • Do you need a room?? Some services offer a common shared “data room” that can be the cloud equivalent of a shared network file server. ShareFile and SecureDocs offer unlimited space for your shared rooms. Others, like Egnyte, limit the room to 1TB, which is still plenty of storage space if you’re not a video producer.
  • What other specialized services do you need?? Some services integrate with electronic signature applications (ShareFile works with Citrix’s RightSignature), enable custom workflows (such as document approvals), and other tasks that can save a lot of time in a corporate environment.

Using any enterprise sharing service will require some tweaking, but I think it’s worth the effort for extra peace of mind, better security, and collaboration features.

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