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Zoho WorkDrive

Zoho WorkDrive is a cloud-based document management solution designed to help businesses of all sizes store, manage and share content with various stakeholders. Administrators can create dedicated team folders based on several met...Read more about Zoho WorkDrive

Cerberus FTP Server

Cerberus FTP Server is an on-premise file sharing solution that helps small to midsize businesses manage file transfer with two-factor authentication and secure SSL encryption. The platform also includes IP whitelist/backlist and ...Read more about Cerberus FTP Server

Virtru

Virtru is a cloud-based data privacy and security platform that helps businesses of all sizes across education, IT, manufacturing, finance and various other industries manage and encrypt emails. The application enables supervisor...Read more about Virtru

JSCAPE

MFT Server is a file-sharing solution that enables businesses and government agencies to transfer files across locations using various protocols such as FTPS, SCP and more. It facilitates integration with various third-party file ...Read more about JSCAPE

AlephTransfer

AlephTransfer is a cloud-based file-sharing tool that helps businesses streamline data security, governance, and compliance processes on a unified platform. Key features include encryption, password management, and authentication....Read more about AlephTransfer

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OnBoard

Now available: Microsoft 365 Integration. As the most reviewed solution on Capterra and the G2 category leader in Board Management, OnBoard offers a simple, secure, and effective way to run board meetings. With OnBoard, you can...Read more about OnBoard

Onehub

Onehub is a cloud-based collaboration tool and virtual data room that helps users securely store and share their business files. It can be customized to meet users' specific requirements and custom branding needs. Onehub offe...Read more about Onehub

IDrive

IDrive helps businesses of all sizes manage automated data backup processes across various devices such as Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux via a unified portal. The platform lets organizations create multiple users and defin...Read more about IDrive

FileRun

FileRun is a self-hosted GDrive software alternative. Users can install it on any type of web server (a hosting account, a PC/laptop running a HTTP server on Windows, Mac or Linux), a NAS (like Synology, QNAP, TrueNAS, etc). It ...Read more about FileRun

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MangoApps

MangoApps is a unified employee experience platform that combines intranet, training, teamwork, and content management into a single dashboard and workspace. Our user-friendly, infinitely customizable approach fits into the way yo...Read more about MangoApps

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Serv-U FTP Server

Serv-U File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Server is an on-premise collaboration solution by SolarWinds. The solution enables organizations to exchange files with trading partners. Key features include file management, user group creatio...Read more about Serv-U FTP Server

Bynder

Bynder's native, cloud-based Digital Asset Management (DAM) software is designed to simplify and optimize the management of digital assets for both small and large teams. It provides a centralized location to store and manage all ...Read more about Bynder

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Slack

Slack is a cloud-based project collaboration and team interaction tool designed to facilitate communication across organizations. The solution caters to various industries, including media, research, technology, education, financi...Read more about Slack

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Wimi

Wimi is a cloud-based and on-premise project management suite that helps users in document management, project collaboration, portfolio management, task management and time tracking. It offers document sharing and synchronizing in...Read more about Wimi

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M-Files

M-Files is the leading platform for knowledge work automation. M-Files enables knowledge workers to instantly find the right information in any context, automate business processes, and enforce information control. This provides b...Read more about M-Files

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Droplr

Droplr is a cloud-based file sharing solution that helps marketers, developers, designers and project managers to collaborate remotely. Key feature include screen capturing, note taking, URL shortening, file storage and analytics....Read more about Droplr

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MASV

MASV Inc. is a secure cloud software company designed to quickly transfer heavy media files worldwide to meet fast-paced production schedules. Global media organizations rely on MASV Inc. to automatically deliver their large files...Read more about MASV

Tresorit

Tresorit is an end-to-end encrypted, cloud-based file sync and sharing solution. It is designed for various industry verticals such as law, healthcare, finance, and tech businesses. It offers remote device wipe, file restore (afte...Read more about Tresorit

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Egnyte

Egnyte is a cloud-based file sharing solution designed to help small to large organizations collaborate remote teams and provide secured access to confidential data. Features include customizable branding, multiple user management...Read more about Egnyte

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Digital Pigeon

Digital Pigeon is a file-sharing platform designed to help media producers, creative directors and advertising agencies securely share large media files using geo-matching technology. It allows users to change page layouts by addi...Read more about Digital Pigeon

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Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

File sharing is integral to many of the workflows found in modern digital offices. It's almost impossible to imagine how modern businesses would operate without sharing digital files.

Thankfully, there's no shortage of file sharing tools and applications. However, because there are so many options available, businesses often struggle to choose among them. Options for security, collaboration and mobility differ greatly between the many types of file sharing tools, and businesses need to weigh a wide range of variables during the selection process.

This Buyer's Guide will help you better juggle and more accurately weigh your priorities when selecting file sharing software. It covers:

What Is File Sharing Software?

Common Features of File Sharing Software

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Key Considerations

What Is File Sharing Software?

The term “file sharing software" actually encompasses many different platforms, applications and add-ons. There's a huge range of products that can be considered file sharing software, but the range of products that will meet your company's specific file-sharing needs is going to be much, much smaller.

For example, Gmail and Outlook both let users share files as email attachments, but these email apps would only meet the file-sharing needs of companies with extremely basic file-sharing requirements. For example, they don't support collaboration or content management and they don't integrate well with other business platforms, like CRM or project management software.

To help you narrow down your search, we'll look first at the common features of file sharing software. Once you have a feel for the scope of applications, we'll look at some common use cases to help you decide which most applies to your business.

Common Features of File Sharing Software

The following table illustrates the range of applications and capabilities available across the wide spectrum of file sharing offerings. Be aware that there may not always be clear lines dividing some of these applications from each other.

File sharing

The core application that lets users upload files, tag or save them them under a specific department, category or folder and share the files with other users, internally, externally or both.

File storage

Provides cloud-based file storage to upload and store files on either company or vendor servers. File storage apps may include various versioning control, user access tools and file recovery functionality.

File search

Offers an indexing and search functionality to help locate files by searching for a variety of parameters, such as: words or phrases in the title or body of the file; upload and last-modified dates; user interactions and more.

File sync

Lets users sync the files they're working on directly from a native application (e.g., word processor). Can automatically sync cloud-stored files to a local folder on your computer and vice versa.

User management

Create user accounts and distribution groups, set user permissions (e.g., "view only" or "editing"), match files to accounts based on email addresses, authentication type, pick storage zones and group memberships.

Mobility

These applications offer support for, and management of, data access from and storage on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. Similar applications can be found in some mobile device management solutions.

Security and encryption

Adds MMS functionality to the platform allowing customers and businesses to send and receive multimedia messages, like photos, videos and audio recordings.

Contest and polling tools

These features control security and administration settings for users, content and endpoints, including encryption at all stages of the process, logging, access control, identity and authorization management. Encrypt file attachments sent via email, or even the body of the email itself.

Back-end integration

Capabilities here allow the file sharing software to manage, access or otherwise integrate with back-end services, such as network file systems, directories, workflow systems, repositories and business applications.

Collaboration and social

These capabilities help users work together on the documents being shared. They can include tools for recommendations, commenting, sharing, co-authoring and markup, task assignment and gamification.

Content management

Includes support for features that control and manage document content, including versioning, metadata, e-discovery, archiving and syncing. These applications are also present in dedicated CMS systems, which typically also offer file sharing capabilities.

Deployment models

Provides support for different server and endpoint operating systems and different deployment models, such as public cloud, on-premises, hybrid and private cloud. Most SMBs prefer public or private cloud options for their relative ease of use.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Gartner's report "Top 10 Best Practices for Choosing and Deploying an Enterprise File Sync and Sharing Solution" (available to Gartner clients) outlines three general use cases for file sharing software. Keep in mind that these examples are not mutually exclusive; most companies will find that all three apply, but to varying degrees.

  1. General productivity. This use case leverages the convenience of digital file sharing software to improve workflow efficiency in-office, with outside parties and on mobile devices. If this sounds most applicable to your business, then the most basic file sharing platforms will suffice. Focus your search on those that include, at a bare minimum, the first four applications in the table above.

  2. Extended collaboration. This use case applies to companies that want to use file sharing software to improve their collaborative workflows, both internally and with outside organizations. If this sounds most applicable to your business, look for a platform that includes basic and extended collaboration apps, like versioning, commenting and task assignments.

  3. IT modernization. This use case is for companies undergoing strategic digitalization and modernization initiatives. It applies to companies that, for example want to move away from older FTP file servers to more modern cloud services to take advantage of the latter's more robust access, automation and backup and recovery capabilities. These companies often prioritize the integration capabilities of file sharing services to ensure compatibility with legacy systems.

Market Trends to Understand

In choosing among the many file sharing solutions, you should pay attention to the level of control each offers. This level of control should be examined on two fronts: control over the operation of the platform—the “control plane"—and control over the data and the files themselves.

Different-levels-of-control-offered-by-file-sharing-platforms

Different levels of control offered by file sharing platforms. Source: Gartner

Small and midsize businesses with basic file sharing needs and small IT departments typically do best with fully cloud-based solutions. While some of these platforms offer APIs for customizing parts of the control plane, they're generally designed to be used out of the box with minimal configuration.

At the other end of the spectrum, on-premise solutions offer much more flexibility for more complex integrations. These companies may want to create a file-sharing service that blends seamlessly with an existing application. They may have stricter data privacy concerns, or are implementing real-time analytical tools. For such businesses, on-premise solutions may be a better fit, so long as the company has the IT staff needed to implement and support these customizations and systems.