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10 file-sharing options: Dropbox, Google Drive and more

Serdar Yegulalp | July 16, 2012
Even with all the online storage now available, sharing files -- especially large ones -- can still be a problem. We look at 10 online services that aim to make it simpler.

Many features you might take for granted with other services (e.g., Dropbox), such as a desktop client or the ability to link directly to a file instead of just the file's download page, are premium for-pay items. Box can display previews of most common types of uploaded files, although one JavaScript-heavy HTML file I uploaded rendered as a blank page.

5GB Free account max file size: 100MB Paid account storage space: 25GB ($9.99/month); 50GB ($19.99/month); 1000GB ($15/user/month); unlimited (custom quote) Paid account max file size: 1GB / 2GB File storage expiration: None Other paid options: Full text search; item version history; Google Apps / Active Directory / integration; ECM cloud support; custom branding Time to upload 100MB file: 12 min. 24 sec.


Dropbox was among the first services to offer seamless upload and storage via its client software. All you need to do to sync files to Dropbox is put them in Dropbox's designated folder on a system with the client app, and the sync happens silently in the background. Sharing links and other admin functions can be done directly from the right-click menu in Explorer, but the only way to share with predefined lists of people is through your list of Facebook friends.

A special "Public" folder in your Dropbox account allows files to be linked to directly, without a click-though download or preview page. This way, you can upload a web page into the Public folder, link directly to it, and in effect host impromptu websites in Dropbox. Note that Web pages need to be encoded as straight ASCII to render correctly, as that's the default for documents served from Dropbox.

2GB (up to 18GB with 500MB per referral) Free account max file size: None Paid account storage space: 50GB ($9.99/month or $99/year); 100GB ($19.99/month or $199/year); 1TB+ ($795/year and up) Paid account max file size: None File storage expiration: None Other paid options: Unlimited file version retention; multi-account controls for teams; at-rest file encryption; dedicated phone support Time to upload 100MB file: 8 min. 3 sec.

Google Drive

As with Dropbox and SkyDrive, Google Drive's desktop client creates a folder into which you can place files that are automatically synced to the cloud and to other devices running the client.

However, file sharing can only be set up through Drive's Web interface, not the desktop client. You can, though, use the client to easily distribute a file's link to Google contacts and groups (assuming Google is what you use to manage your contacts).

Files created and stored in Google Docs can also be synced to your Drive folders, although you can elect not to sync selected subfolders in Drive. Documents saved in Drive can also be opened as Google Docs documents, if Docs supports the format in question. Note that files converted into Google Docs-compatible formats aren't counted towards the storage total.


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