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

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


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.

Free account storage space: 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.

Free account storage space: 5GB
Free account max file size: 10GB
Paid account storage space: 25GB ($2.49/month); 100GB ($4.99/month); various other plans up to 16TB ($799.99/month)
Paid account max file size: 10GB
File storage expiration: None
Other paid options: None
Time to upload 100MB file: 6 min. 55 sec.

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