Almost every business shares files by email, and in many cases it’s the most quick, convenient and effective way to do it.
If a client asks for a quote, a job candidate wants an application form, or you want to send a short memo round to colleagues, email can be hard to beat.
Problems first creep in when you have to share large files with many people. Hi-resolution photos, large PDF reports, database export files, audio, video — try sharing these and you quickly run into two problems.
- You can’t send or receive the files. Many email servers refuse to let you send large files. And if yours does, there’s a strong chance your recipients’ email systems won’t let them receive the documents.
- Firewall blocking. Many corporate firewalls block certain types of files, particularly if they’re large – and sometimes even if they’re small. At best, they have to go through the rigmarole of getting their IT department to release the files from quarantine.
The quickest fix for sharing large files securely online is to use a ‘FTP replacement’ tool. These are web-based, secure large file transfer services that allow you to upload documents and specify who you’d like to receive them. These people are then sent an email alert containing a link, which they then use to download a copy of your file.
It’s a clunky workaround, but it does work. A rather better solution is to opt for a ‘shared folder’ service for business file sharing. These allow you to create online folders and specify who you would like to share them with. Depending on the permissions you set, the people you invite can either simply read the files you share, or they can add files of their own to the shared folder.
In this way, you can give access to a shared file resource to any person with an internet connection.
Business file sharing choice
When businesses first start using file sharing software, they usually choose basic ‘FTP replacement’ or shared folder services – or both. And why not? They’re usually cheap, easy to use and get the job done.
And in a way, that’s the problem. They get the job done in the sense that they allow you to share files, but they miss one important element out of the equation.
Standalone file sharing solutions give you the raw materials you need to collaborate – but not the tools to do it with.
Collaboration is the lifeblood of business, but simple file sharing solutions only go a short way in helping it to happen. With a shared folder you still need to bring your own tools to the party — and when that involves project management software, databases and questionnaire builders, it gets complex. You can only collaborate with people who have the same software as you, and that may immediately rule out external partners and stakeholders.
There is a different approach to business file sharing, however – and that’s online collaboration software. This gives you all the functionality of a shared folder service, but brings all your collaborators online with access to the same set of functional tools.
When that happens, you can start doing some amazing things. We’ll be looking more closely at some of them in our next post — but if you can’t wait, be sure to download our free guide Beyond Business File Sharing. In it you’ll find 8 features that will take you further.