Collaboration is king when it comes to working digitally. Being able to send files from one user to another and allowing multiple people to work in one space without physically being there is absolutely essential to the kind of flexibility that gives us the opportunity to freelance – working remotely, being able to access information on multiple devices, and staying in touch with our clients when it comes to discussing milestones, goals, and tasks accomplished.
Picking a flexible, logical file-sharing program can make or break your business. If a file sharing program isn’t intuitive for most people the first time they use it, most will inherently push away from it. With all the new technology we’re exposed to day to day, from our smartphone apps to new software at work to laptops, desktops, tablets, etc., file-sharing applications need to be as simple as dragging and dropping. Yet, still, many of us struggle to find sharing software and/or apps that meet our needs.
What are the best programs for sharing files? Which have flaws that ruin your productivity? If you’ve been freelancing for even a few months, you’ve undoubtedly come across some great and not-so-great interfaces through which you’ve worked with clients. Here’s a look at some of the better options out there.
One of Google’s best features is Drive, which lets you store up to 15 GB of data for free. If you want to upgrade for business or other reasons, it’s $1.99/month for 100 GB or $9.99/month for 1 TB. Drive’s best feature is that it’s super simple to learn and it gives you the handy option of allowing other users to either view or edit a document. I use Drive for my portfolio so that potential clients can view work I’ve done in the past in a simple format. The downside of Drive is that if your Internet connection slows at all, it will give you messages like “Working” or “Reconnecting.” If you haven’t previously selected the option to be able to work offline, this can really slow down your efficiency as any document you have open won’t be available until Drive re-establishes a suitable connection.
Droplr — Sharing Files and More
While Drive is suitable for a freelancer like who’s mainly writing and editing, Droplr is a tremendous asset for those who lean more technical and complex. Sharing source code and giving and receiving visual feedback is a snap with Droplr’s screencast option. Even better, you can go beyond collaboration and use Droplr as a customer service interface with it’s annotated screenshots feature that allows customers to send you an image of their particular pain point with attached text, and allows you to reply in kind. If you’re an individual using Droplr, it’s $5-10 month. If you want to buy it for a team, it’s $8/user/month for up to 10 team members.
Dropbox — The Name in Sharing Files
Dropbox is exactly what it sounds like. A box that you drop stuff in – files of any sort. You then make the box available to others so they can view, edit, manipulate those files. Sometimes, its permissions get confusing, it doesn’t have the easiest interface and I’ve had more than a few clients send me links that take me to their sign-in page rather than the file I need to access. And while Drive can let anyone view files, even if you don’t have a Google account, you must sign up to Dropbox to access anything on system. DropBox starts at rates of $8.25/month for 1TB of space, and goes up to $12.50/month for twice that space.
Box — Security, Collaboration Focused
Not to be confused with Dropbox, Box is very cool for people who don’t like working online when they are using Word documents. With Box, you can download an extension for Microsoft Word that will open every time you download a file from Box. You can lock the file you’ve downloaded so no other user makes changes to it while you’re working on it, and when you’re done, clicking save automatically uploads it back into the original location. If you’re the type of person who hates downloading a file, digging through your Download folder on your computer for it, making your changes, and then having to hunt for it again to upload it back to the server, this is absolutely the file-sharing program for you. The starter plan is just $5/month for 100 GB of storage, with the the business plan going for $15/month for unlimited storage of files.
Huddle — Collaboration and File Storage
Geared for slightly larger small businesses, Huddle is a good collaboration tool. It offers clear lines of communication along with easy file uploads and downloads. Like most of the other services, it offers a free trial so you can see if it’s the right one for you. Pricing starts at $20/user/month up to 25 users.
The best part of these services is that most have free trials, allowing you to test them out before you start using any of them to conduct your business and build your portfolio.