Contact us
Thank you for your message, we'll come back to you shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Home   >Tools

Best File Sharing Software Solutions

September 29, 2023

What is File Sharing?

File sharing is the transfer of documents and files between devices using a network, often the Internet.

What are the main kinds of file sharing software?

The range of file sharing software is quite large. It includes old standbys such as FTP (file transfer protocol) and MFT (managed file transfer) and has grown to encompass fairly new solutions such as cloud storage solutions.  In this article, we focus on online/cloud file-sharing software. Classic types include:

  • Cloud storage services - Services like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox,  Apple iCloud. They provide online storage space and let you easily share files via links or collaboration settings.
  • FTP/MFT - File Transfer Protocol and Managed File Transfer are the granddaddy of file sharing approaches and are still common in the corporate setting. A lot more technical to set up and maintain vs cloud services.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing tools - Tools that use protocols to facilitate sharing between two computers (e.g., BitTorrent).  Due to associations with illegal content sharing, many businesses restrict P2P use.
  • Secure online portals - Evolving from intranet-based solutions like Microsoft Sharepoint, these modern platforms provide file sharing with a user-friendly web interface. “Data rooms” are a special form of these online portals.
  • Source code repositories - Developers frequently use solutions optimized for sharing and version control of software code files.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of files are shared via email as attachments. It’s one of the simplest ways to share files, but also the most fraught given its security issues and challenges managing attachment versions.  

TakeTurns improves file sharing with structured workflow

What are the main styles of file sharing?

It’s worth noting that there are two primary styles of file sharing, each with its own purposes and expectations:

  • One-way (Unidirectional) File Sharing: This is the most common type of file sharing. In this style, there are "active" and "passive" participants. The initiator of the share (or sharer) is the active party. They expect the recipient (or passive party) to consume the files. Frequently, the documents or files are shared for the benefit of the recipient, e.g., a portfolio company sharing financial reports with their investor/VC. This style is typically used for disseminating information, such as distributing documents, reports, presentations, or media files. Most file-sharing tools default to this approach.
  • Two-way (Bidirectional) File Sharing: In contrast, two-way file sharing involves only active participants. The expectation from both parties is that there will be an active exchange of files, revisions to those files, and, possibly, supplemental files. Bidirectional file sharing tends to happen asynchronously, meaning that each file sharing participant determines when they wish to share. It’s often seen in use cases involving negotiated transactions (e.g., commercial agreements, real estate, investments, etc). 

Understanding these two main styles of file sharing is crucial for selecting the most suitable method and tool for your file sharing.  It’s also worth noting that most tools that facilitate one-way file sharing are frequently missing the coordination mechanisms to support two-way or bidirectional sharing.

Reasons to use a file sharing tool

Here are three key reasons teams use file-sharing tools in collaborations, especially cloud-based file storage and sharing tools:

  • To avoid email attachment limits - Emails have attachment size limits. File sharing tools allow you to share large files up to GBs in size.
  • For common storage - For a specific collaboration, participants can access the latest files from one centralized location instead of emailing files back and forth. This reduces confusion and redundancy.
  • To improve security (over email) - File sharing platforms can be more secure if you configure them to be! Configurations include setting permissions, passwords, links that expire etc. Use these features if you’re working on sensitive documents with another party.

Reasons to avoid a file sharing tool

There are downsides to using file sharing tools for collaboration that are worth considering:

  • One direction (and we don’t mean the band) - While some file sharing tools permit both parties to share files through the same cloud store, most people view the share as going only one way.  
  • Version control issues - With people downloading and working on local versions of files and reuploading the files, it can become difficult to track who has the most up-to-date version. Without proper version control, changes can be lost or overwritten.
  • Fragmented workflows - When files are scattered across email, network drives, and file sharing tools, it creates a disjointed workflow. The more places there are to look the more challenges the team will have collaborating.
  • Compliance risks - File sharing services may not meet regulatory compliance needs for your industry in terms of security, access controls, and auditing.  For example, in Europe the regulators have been warning organizations about ‘data graveyards’ or cloud-based file stores that held personally identifiable information beyond the permitted time.

While file sharing tools facilitate basic collaboration, teams working closely on deliverables are often better served by looking beyond just file sharing and investing in full-featured collaboration platform, such as TakeTurns. This avoids version control problems and enables smoother real-time collaboration. But they may not be cost-effective for all teams. Assess your specific collaboration requirements before choosing solutions.

Questions to ask when choosing a file sharing tool

Choosing a file sharing tool need not be a complex process. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of questions to keep in mind as you select the perfect file sharing solution for your collaboration.

  1. Will the shares be one-way shares or bi-directional? - Are you planning a one-way file share? Or will you be going back and forth on the content you’re sharing? The level of collaboration you expect will impact the software you choose.
  2. What are you sharing? - Are you sharing broadcast-ready, 4K video? Documents and files?  The capacity (and maximum file size) supported by the platform will be important if you’re sharing enormous amounts of data
  3. How important is version control? - in some cases, especially when sharing documents and files in the context of a transaction, the ability to manage and track versions is vital.  
  4. How confidential is what you’re sharing? Keep in mind that many consumer-oriented cloud software file sharing platforms are designed to make it easy to share content. They often lack the granular controls you might need for something a bit more ambitious, e.g., contract negotiations.
  5. How long do you want to share this content? In the commercial context, how you end the file share is just as important how you begin.  
  6. Can you try out the software? It’s important to try out any tool you choose before you use it in a real-life use case. Things you might want to validate: how do you share the file with specific people? How easy is it to share the files? Can you capture comments or questions through the tool? How is version management dealt with?

The best file sharing software

Beneath is our non-exhaustive list of the best file sharing software our customers have told us about. Did we miss one? Please feel free to send us a comment!  

1. Google Drive

Google’s file sharing software, works well with Google products.

Pros: Free up to 15GB of storage, easy to use, integrates with other Google products

Cons: Limited storage space on the free plan, some features require a paid subscription

2. Dropbox

One of the original pioneers of the file sharing/storage solutions.

Pros: Free up to 2GB of storage, easy to use, reliable

Cons: Limited storage space on the free plan, some features require a paid subscription

3. Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft’s offer in the space, works well with Microsoft 365.

Pros: Free up to 5GB of storage, integrates with other Microsoft products

Cons: Limited storage space on the free plan, some features require a paid subscription

4. iCloud

Apple’s cloud based file storage and file sharing entry. Works seamlessly with Apple products.

Pros: Free up to 5GB of storage, easy to use for Apple users

Cons: Limited storage space on the free plan, some features require a paid subscription, typically found in personal use cases.

5. Box

One of the original file sharing/storage solutions.

Pros: Secure, compliant, and scalable for business users

Cons: Expensive, limited storage space on the free plan

6. TakeTurns

File sharing and collaboration for your collaborations that matter

Pro: TakeTurns is designed not just for file sharing, but also to support collaboration on those documents and files with a specific set of participants. While many file sharing solutions are one way, TakeTurns supports the back-and-forth frequently found when you collaborate with other parties on important matters.

Cons: No free plan, targets professional use cases.

TakeTurns improves file sharing with structured workflow

7. Slik Safe

Secure file sharing app, integrates with your local filesystem, Google Drive, Dropbox etc.

Pros: Cross platform compatibility with desktop, mobile and web apps. No limitations on size of shared file. Supports sharing via links or email.

Cons: Limited storage space on the free plan.

8. DocSend

Primarily a file sending solution, now part of DropBox

Pros: Easier to use than FTP (just file sends). Includes analytics on the file.  

Cons: Limited to sending files

9. WeTransfer

Another solution designed for sending large files.

Pros: Easy to use, designed to send large files, no account required to send files up to 2GB

Cons: Limited file size for free users, ads on the free plan

10.  OneHub

Portal for sharing files with clients and partners

Pros: The file sharing portal can be branded with a business’s logo, custom domain, and colors.

Cons: Price: Some users might find OneHub's pricing to be on the higher side, especially for smaller businesses or startups.

Other notable tools




Send Anywhere

Digital Pigeon



Recent articles