Best Free Ways to Share Files Digitally

In our digital world, it is a quotidian task for a person to share a piece of data with his friends, co-workers, or the whole world. When it’s not through social networks, a piece of data is usually shared as a file on the web. This brings us to the million-dollar question: what ways are present to share a file digitally?

The answer: there are many and many methods available to share a file.

Well, it brings us to the other question: which is the best way to share a file?

The answer: it depends on your preferences as well as your requirements.

Let me clarify. There is no ultimate solution to all the sharing problems, but there are numerous methods to share files; you must choose one of them per your needs. Let’s say you need to share a file of humongous size, or you need to share a file anonymously — both these problems have varied solutions.

In this post ill walk you through the best and the easiest online file sharing methods present in the market. Are you ready to explore? Read on.

Traditional Methods

Let me start the list with some traditional file sharing methods that come with certain limitations but are still popular and frequently used today.

Email

Email, or electronic mail, is the most popular file-sharing method on the planet. One can send messages as well as share files (using attachments) with one or more recipient(s) using an email. It’s easy and free as well — just use one of the free email service providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo! Mail, or others.

Gmail is a popular email provider

Email providers often limit the attachments’ size. For example, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail allow attachments of up to 25 MB; however, Outlook allows sending up to 200 attachments per email with each being of maximum 50 MB.

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FTP

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a cost-effective but somewhat technical file-sharing method. It’s the old way to transfer large-sized files between computers over any network. An FTP client like Cyberduck, FileZilla, or WinSCP is needed to transfer files between a computer and a server supporting FTP.

FTP doesn’t have specific limits, but it depends on the client’s or server’s storage space. However, FTP is unencrypted, thus vulnerable to online attacks. Hence, you must use SFTP — aka “Secure FTP” — since it encrypts the data and your login information for the transmission, thus providing better security.

LAN-based Solutions

A file can be shared on a local network as well such as LAN and Wi-Fi or using other technologies like Bluetooth and NFC. I like such file sharing methods since they’re fast and one need not connect a wire between devices to share a file. Of course, these methods require the two devices in near vicinity to work.

Air Drop

AirDrop is a file sharing method invented by Apple for Macs, iPhones, and iPads. It works over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, thus transfers files between macOS or iOS devices in a swift manner — especially it does over Wi-Fi. It supports almost any file of any size provided the target device has sufficient storage space.

AirDrop is a file-sharing feature from Apple

AirDrop encrypts the files during transmission and creates a firewall around its created hotspot (when working over Wi-Fi) to secure the connection. That said, it has a major disadvantage: it doesn’t work for non-Apple devices.

SHAREit

SHAREit, backed by Lenovo, is an Airdrop-like technology that works seamlessly on major platforms. It can detect and transfer almost all types of files among computers, smartphones, and tablets. It makes use of Wi-Fi (like Wi-Fi Direct or a hotspot) to transfer files between the devices.

SHAREit is fast and secure and does not require a web connection, like Airdrop. It can transfer as large files as supported by the target system. Lastly, the only disadvantage it has is: it doesn’t work on Linux or UNIX OSs.

Cloud Storage Solutions

A cloud storage service is an always-available, remote server-based storage solution that works through the Internet. It is like FTP, but without its technical aspects. A cloud storage solution offers an intuitive interface and also seamless access to one’s data. Moreover, it proves handy for backing up crucial data.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a simple and reliable file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file sync, multi-platform support, and more features. It allows you to upload and share a link of files, thus allowing you to share them with anyone. Also, you can password-protect the link and set an expiration date too.

Dropbox is a reliable file hosting service

You get 2 GB of free storage space on the basic edition of Dropbox, so it can contain one or many files that add to 2 GB. If you wish to share files larger than this limit, you can try some tricks to get more free space on Dropbox.

Key takeaways
  • Free plan: Yes; 2 GB of storage space.
  • Paid plan: Yes; starts at $9.99/month for 1 TB of space.
  • Size limit: 50 GB, but mustn’t exceed the available space.
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Google Drive

Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud storage solutions, owing primarily to the reason that it’s backed by Google. It offers 15 GB of free storage space and one can store and share one or multiple files equating to 15 GB.

You can share any number of files and folders with anyone using Google Drive or create a public link to share your files and folders publicly. However, it doesn’t offer an option to set an expiration date or a password for links, unlike Dropbox.

Key takeaways
  • Free plan: Yes; 15 GB of storage space.
  • Paid plan: Yes; starts at $1.99/month for 100 GB of space.
  • Size limit: 5 TB, but must not exceed the available space.

iCloud Drive

iCloud Drive is the cloud-based storage service from Apple. You can access your files using iCloud Drive and share them with anyone, like Google Drive. Its free edition supports storing one or more files adding to maximum 5 GB.

iCloud Drive is a cloud storage service from Apple

The sharing options on iCloud Drive are similar to Google Drive. You can share your files with invited people or with anyone publicly using shareable links. But you can’t set an expiry date or password-protect them, unlike Dropbox.

Key takeaways
  • Free plan: Yes; 5 GB of storage space.
  • Paid plan: Yes; starts at $0.99/month for 50 GB of space.
  • Size limit: 50 GB, but mustn’t exceed the available space.

Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive, from Microsoft, is another popular cloud storage solution like the above two services. It offers 5 GB of free storage space, like iCloud Drive, and restricts the maximum file size to 2 GB, unlike the above two options.

You can opt to share selected files and send its publicly shareable link to anyone or allow access to your files to only specific persons per your choice. But again, you cannot set an expiry date or a password on the links, unlike Dropbox.

Key takeaways
  • Free plan: Yes; 5 GB of storage space.
  • Paid plan: Yes; starts at $1.99/month for 50 GB of space.
  • Size limit: 10 GB, but mustn’t exceed the available space.

File Sharing Sites

A cloud storage service poses some hassle for you since you need to log in before you can share a file. There are easier and quicker options — file-sharing services that don’t ask you to have a user account. Instead, you just open the site, upload your file, and share it using its shareable link quickly.

UploadFiles

UploadFiles is another quick and free file sharing service that doesn’t require registration. The shared files are encrypted and transferred securely from your browser to its servers, providing top-notch security as well.

UploadFiles is a quick and free file sharing service

You can share files up to 5 GB in size. The process is the same as Dropcanvas: you get a shareable link to send files to others.

Key takeaways
  • Free plan: Yes; 2 GB of storage space.
  • Paid plan: Yes; starts at $5/month for 100 GB of space.
  • Size limit: 5 GB for free plan and 10 GB for the starting paid plan, but mustn’t exceed the available space.

WeTransfer

WeTransfer is a very popular cloud-based file transfer service. You must upload the files to its servers, like similar file-sharing services, and send the link to the recipient(s) to share the files with them. Also, the transfer process is encrypted, like UploadFiles, and you can share files of up to 2 GB for free.

Key takeaways
  • Free plan: Yes, but don’t avail any storage space.
  • Paid plan: Yes; starts at $12/month for 100 GB of space.
  • Size limit: 2 GB for free plan and 20 GB for its paid plan.

Send Anywhere

Send Anywhere is another web-based file-sharing service. It securely transfers and shares large-sized files — supporting files of up to 10 GB in size. You can transfer files in real time to one specific device using a 6-digit key.

Send Anywhere is a web-based file-sharing service

You can create a shareable link to transfer files to unlimited people, like other services. Moreover, its links expire in 48 hours. What’s more interesting? It does not leave your files’ copies on its servers after the links get expired.

Key takeaways
  • Free plan: Yes; 10 GB of storage space.
  • Paid plan: Yes; starts at $5.99/month for 1 TB of space.
  • Size limit: 50 GB, but mustn’t exceed the available space.

File Sharing Tools

Peer-to-peer — the technology behind torrents — is a file transfer technology that works without a central server, unlike most similar methodologies. It connects a device to another and transfers the data in real time. It can transfer small as well as large files; however, both devices must be online.

Reep.io

Reep.io enables encrypted, web-based peer-to-peer file transfer between two browsers without gathering data on any server. You can preview images and stream videos directly as well — to my surprise — thanks to WebRTC.

Reep is an encrypted peer-to-peer file transfer service

You can use Reep.io for free to share any number or size of files and set a password on the shareable link as well, just like Dropbox.

Resilio Sync

Resilio Sync offers a cloudless solution to transfer files by encrypting and establishing a direct peer-to-peer connection. It hashes the files for verifiability and generates a link (and a QR code) that’s valid for three days.

Resilio Sync allows one-time and one-way file transfers; if the shared file changes, this invalidates the transfer and the changes do not sync. It may pose problems in some cases, but it protects you from man-in-the-middle attacks. Thus, you can be sure that the file received is the file sent, fortunately.

JustBeamIt

JustBeamIt is another web-based peer-to-peer transfer service, which you can use without registration. It generates a link for all the files you wish to share with the recipients. But you must keep all the browsers during transfer.

JustBeamIt is a web-based peer-to-peer transfer service

JustBeamIt has no limits on the file size or the number of files. However, its shareable links are valid only for ten minutes. Fortunately, you can generate a new download link for the same file if the old link gets invalidated.

I understand you may know or have used a few of these methods; or maybe all? Nevertheless, I prepared this all-inclusive list to encompass all the popular yet freely or readily available file sharing methods. Did you find it helpful?

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