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

By Serdar Yegulalp
July 13, 2012 06:00 AM ET


[Update: Since this was written, YouSendIt has changed its name to Hightail.]

The lowest tier of YouSendIt is rather constrained (although it does offer some perks such as Outlook plugins, which are great for mass distribution), but the higher tiers are clearly aimed at business users, with add-ons like Active Directory integration. Links to files sent via YouSendIt's mailer option -- as opposed to just generating a manually distributed link from an uploaded file -- can be set to expire after a given length of time (a paid option) or require a user login with a verified YouSendIt account to read the file (available for free accounts).

The desktop client works much like Dropbox: It creates a folder into which you drop files to be uploaded, with the sync status of each file displayed as an overlay icon. You can obtain a given file's direct download link through the YouSendIt site or by from the desktop using the downloadable Express application. In addition, the site has a good preview system for common file types, which has been recently added to the mobile cilents.

Free account storage space: 2GB (max 1GB of download bandwidth per month)
Free account max file size: 50MB
Paid account storage space: 5GB ($9.99/month or $99.99/year); unlimited ($14.99/month or $149.99/year)
Paid account max file size: 2GB
File storage expiration: 7 days or 100 downloads, whichever comes first (free accounts only)
Other paid options: Expiration date control; full-folder downloads (instead of individual files); premium file delivery options; phone support; upload to Dropbox; Active Directory integration and enterprise security options available via Workstream plan
Time to upload 100MB file: 9 min. 23 sec.

General file storage

These services are known more for file storage and backup than for the distribution of files. However, they all have file-sharing capabilities, and if you already use one of them -- or if you're looking for a file storage service -- it could make sense to use that service for file sharing as well.


The basic free version of Box provides file management exclusively through its Web interface. You drag and drop individual files to upload them, but if you want to upload whole hierarchies of files (folders and subfolders) there's also a Java-based bulk uploader. A list of links is maintained for recently updated items, and discussion threads can be created for folders and files. Public file links can be automatically distributed via social media and email, with contact lists for the latter importable from many common services and applications.

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.

Free account storage space: 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.

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