I love email. It’s my favorite form of communication.
But when it comes to sharing files and information, email really sucks.
Messages get lost. Document changes are often missed. Big attachments are difficult to deal with. And if your inbox looks anything like mine does some weeks, well, it can be darned tough to find anything.
I’ve tried a variety of other solutions, from project management systems such as Basecamp (too much trouble to use) to file sending apps such as We Transfer (not convenient for every-day sharing). In the end, I always return to my top 3 choices.
None of them are perfect (see the “What I hate about it” sections) but they’ve each found a permanent place in my business, and they do help ensure that everyone has the latest information.
This free file sharing/syncing app is super easy to use, keeps your files current on every device, and lets you share both files and folders with clients. It installs as a folder inside your Documents directory, and any file you save there will be automatically synced on all your computers.
What I love about it: The files are synced to “the cloud” but they don’t live there. That means that even if I don’t have an Internet connection, I can still access the files.
What I hate about it: Because of the way it syncs, DropBox cannot prevent two users from editing a file at the same time. That can sometimes cause you to have duplicates of a single file, often labeled as a “conflicting copy.”
Cost: Free for up to 2 GB, $9.99/month for 100 GB.
Similar to DropBox in that you can share files and folders selectively with others, Google Drive also allows real-time collaboration. If you and a client are both editing a doc at the same time, you can actually watch as the other person is adding content.
What I love about it: Everything exists in the cloud, so you will never run into the conflicted copy issue as you do with DropBox.
What I hate about it: While you can upload and store Microsoft Word, Excel, or other file types, it’s not one of Google Drive’s strengths. If you’re satisfied using their browser-based editing tools, though, Google Drive is a good choice. I personally do not like to create/edit documents in a browser. I find the interface clunky and slow to respond.
Cost: Free for up to 15 GB (shared with your gmail address), $9.99/month for 1 TB (yes, that’s a terabyte)
Billed as a file system to keep track of, quite literally, everything, Evernote is a robust freeform database that will store text notes, Word documents, audio files, photos, PDFs and just about any other digital file. The tagging and search functions are so robust you’ll never lose anything, and you can choose to share folders with other Evernote users, as I do with my husband and our business operations manual.
What I love about it: It’s everywhere. I have it on my phone, on my iPad, and on all my computers. No matter where I am, I can find exactly what I’m looking for.
What I hate about it: It feels disorganized to me. I’m a linear thinker, and I much prefer the nested folder setup, where files are organized in a hierarchy, rather than all jumbled together in one big list. I can set up a system like that within Evernote, but it still doesn’t feel organized to me.
Cost: Free for 60 MB of uploads per month (no storage cost) or $5/month for 1 GB of uploads.
What file sharing apps do you use? Share in the comments!