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 file sharing. But now that we’re scattered across the landscape, sharing important files securely can take 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 work.

Probably the easiest way to share a file is to attach a document to an email, Slack, or other instant message. But in any case, it creates problems on several fronts. If you rely too much on your email or email system, your improperly archived files might become accessible to prying hackers with phishing lures. If you’re sharing traditional documents this way, you might also quickly find yourself playing the “who’s got the latest version” game. It’s hard to keep up with 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 based on your email identity) can solve the version control problem – and may be your only option if your company insists – they can become cumbersome as your team expands beyond your office domain. You could inadvertently share the document with people who shouldn’t see it or lock someone who needs to access it. The more complicated you make your sharing situation, the greater the chance of error where the world (or perhaps family members) accesses your files. We’ve all seen news stories where a database or collection of documents fell into the wrong hands because someone didn’t apply the proper security. Some companies won’t take the risk: with one of my clients, I had to get a new email address on their domain to share their Google Docs.

Besides Google Workspace and OneDrive, there are more than a dozen different personal file sharing service providers, including Apple’s Dropbox, Box, and iCloud. Many of them are free or almost free for minimal use. But if you’re considering these services, everyone in your sharing circle must use two-factor authentication (like Authy) to access them, not just a username and password. Even so, 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 big deal of it). good work). They’re fine for one-time sharing or sharing files on your own devices, but they’re not my preferred solution.

Instead, you should consider an enterprise-grade cloud-based file-sharing service that adds more layers of protection by encrypting your data and has fine-grained access control. Egnyte, SecureDocs, ShareFile and SugarSync are just a few of the more popular services; here is a table with a rough comparison of their cost and what they offer to start with:

Popular Secure File Sharing Services Compared

Seller Monthly pricing Max. file download Free trial period Application integration
Seller Monthly pricing Max. file download Free trial period Application integration
Egnyte $20/user 100 GB 15 days Extensive
SecureDocs $250 for unlimited users Unlimited 14 days Limit
ShareFile/Citrix $50 for unlimited users 100 GB 30 days Extensive
SugarSync $55 for 3 users 300 GB for web clients 30 days* Limit

*Credit card required to activate free trial

Whichever one you choose, here’s what to look for when looking for a secure file sharing service:

  • Automatic file synchronization for all users on all devices, including integration with Windows Explorer and macOS Finder, so you can browse shared directories and keep local copies for quick access.
  • Support for Android, iOS and Web clients to browse 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 about it. 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 its connections, while the others I mention have it as an option. Setup is as easy as scanning a QR code in a smartphone app, as shown below:

  • Easy to turn off public sharing options, or that it is difficult to inadvertently choose to share publicly.
  • Customizable permissions and access rights to make sure the right people are sharing the right collections of files. Egnyte, for example, has many 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 understand 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 these 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 download size of the web client.
  • What other software tools work with 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” which can be the cloud equivalent of a shared network file server. ShareFile and SecureDocs both offer unlimited space for their shared rooms. Others, like Egnyte, limit the room to 1TB, which is still plenty of storage if you’re not a video producer.
  • What other specialized services do you need? Some services integrate with e-signature apps (ShareFile works with Citrix’s RightSignature), enable custom workflows (like document approvals), and other tasks that can save time in a corporate environment.

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

Comments are closed.