How to Determine the Type of File Sharing Solution You Need
With all the different types of file sharing services out there, it can be hard to figure out which one is right for you. The best way to choose the right type of file sharing solution is to first determine what you want your solution to do.
In this article, we’ll touch on a few different objectives you might have when it comes to a file sharing solution. As you read through these goals, determine which ones are important to you. Once you know what your goals are and the reason behind using a file sharing solution, you ready to pick a solution to implement.
What are Your Goals for Your File Sharing Solution?
Below are a few common goals companies have for their file sharing solutions. Which of these objectives apply to your needs?
Secure File Transfers
Between well publicized data leaks and the growing number of online solutions, file security is a bigger concern for companies than ever. A single data breach could cost your company a lot of money. According to IBM, the average cost of a single lost record containing sensitive information is $141 – and a hacker never takes just one.
In addition to the cost of lost data, you could also face the noncompliance-related consequences. Do any of the following compliance regulations apply to your company? If so, a secure file sharing solution is essential.
- ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) - Protection of government-related data
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) - Protection of patient health information
- PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) - Protection of cardholder payment information
- GLBA (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) - Protection of consumer financial data
- SOX (Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002) - Protection of financial data
To make sure your company aligns with applicable compliance regulations, choose a type of file sharing solution that facilitates secure transfers.
How can you be sure to choose the right file sharing software?
Compare the top 7 file sharing software solutions!
File Sharing Links
For companies that frequently collaborate and share data with vendors or clients, how files are shared is an important consideration for their next solution. If you’re sending large amounts of information, you need an easy and secure way to do so. Sending a massive amount of data via email or public file sharing solution won’t do the trick anymore. You’ll sacrifice file security.
Among the types of file sharing solutions, look for one that allows you to share files via link. Sending a link to a recipient, without having to create an account for them, is an all to easy process on some file sharing services. The problem with sharing files via links (i.e. nothing but the link required for access) is that you cannot fully verify who got the files. Links are sent via email and anyone who gains access to the email (hacked, forwarded, etc.) will have access to the files associated with the link.
First, you need a file sharing solution that not only enables you send links, but also lets you send expiring links. This way, the data can’t be accessed after the intended period of time or after as little as one use or click of the link. If a link is accessed by a hacker in the future, you don’t have to worry about data being compromised.
Links that also require passwords are the next best step in link security. However, there is still no audit record of who used the link, other than perhaps the IP address they came from. This will not comply with most security regulations, so look for a service that allows the administrator to disable link-sharing system wide.
Have you ever been frustrated as multiple versions of a file are sent back and forth? This can cause confusion, miscommunication, and lost changes. Fortunately, many top file sharing solutions of today have features that facilitate collaboration by a number of people.
If your team often collaborates on files or projects, you want a file sharing solution that includes editing, archived versions, and change tracking features.
As more and more companies are offering remote work options, this might be an important feature to look for in a file sharing solution. Device synchronization of data on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device means employees anywhere around the world can access your solution and work with ease.
Based on Your Goals, Which Solution Sounds Right for You?
Now that you’ve identified what you need in a file sharing solution, you’re ready to evaluate the types of file sharing solutions available to your company.
Enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS) services are a common choice for file sharing. These services are focused on collaborative editing and device synchronization, making them a seemingly wise choice for large organizations. They’re also fairly simple to navigate, making them easily adaptable for new users.
However, while companies like Box, Dropbox, Egnyte, and more might seem like good options, they may lack the infrastructure to keep your data safe. If you need a solution able to facilitate automated FTP, SFTP, or FTPS transmissions, EFSS services aren’t the right services for your needs.
Plus, these services can be costly, easily reaching $3,000 per month. When you compare that price to other types of file sharing solutions, it’s definitely not the most cost-conscious choice.
In-House Infrastructure or Server
There’s a common debate in the business world: build vs. buy. When it comes to file sharing solutions, many companies are tempted to build their own solution, imagining it leads to greater customization and control over costs. While that’s correct on one front – you can build a solution to your specifications – cost is probably the greatest deterrent for building your own server.
For an in-house server, you need to be prepared to spend both as you build and when you continue to maintain your solution. Doing so internally is a huge undertaking for any business. These are some of the costs associated with building and maintaining an in-house file sharing server:
- Purchasing hardware (thousands of dollars upfront) and continual maintenance to keep it running efficiently
- Operating system maintenance, an investment both of time and resources
- Licensing FTP or SFTP software, which usually ranges between $3,000 to $6,000
- Ongoing FTP/SFTP server software maintenance (usually around 25% of the licensing fee)
- Firewall maintenance and the ongoing costs associated with it
Hosted FTP Solution
Ultimately, if you want to a solution that’s designed for secure file transfers and occasional file sharing links, a hosted FTP solution is the right option for your business. Hosted FTP solutions provide all the collaboration features you need, too.
Here are some of the benefits of choosing a hosted FTP solution:
- Price - Unlike in-house solutions with high upfront costs, a hosted FTP solution is available for a reasonable monthly fee, which usually varies based on the number of users you have or the amount of storage you need. Plus, you’re not responsible for the ongoing maintenance costs. The FTP host is responsible for any maintenance or upgrades.
- Security - Hosted FTP solutions have all the secure file sharing features needed to keep hackers out. With features like dedicated firewalls, multi-factor authentication, and granular access controls, you don’t have to worry about data compromises.
- Usability - At the end of the day, you want a file sharing solution that is simple to implement and easy to use. Once you partner with an FTP host, you can be using the solution in no time. There’s little to no setup required. Also, many top hosted FTP solutions enable secure mobile access, so your employees can work from anywhere.
As you search for the right type of file sharing solution, make sure to keep your goals in mind. If you value data security and affordable costs, a hosted file sharing solution is the right choice for your company.
Do you want to compare more types of file sharing solutions? Download this free comparison guide to make your decision easier.
About Martin Horan
Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.