Best Secure Document and File Sharing Online Guide for Businesses and Enterprises

Technology makes life easier. For individuals and businesses, then the recent technological shift to cloud-based services makes secure document sharing much easier and more secure.

Prior to the rise of secure document sharing platforms, people relied on email to share business and personal documents. There are a few security and operational issues with the over-reliance on email. Notably, email accounts, particularly in the corporate world, have file size limits. Large reports, such as sales presentations or annual reports, are difficult to send via email because of the file size.

Additionally, sending a mass email to a working group trying to finalize a big sales report is prone to version control errors and collaboration issues. It is difficult to hold people accountable to review and comment on documents without proper tracking controls.

Finally, executives and risk management professionals understand the underlying risk of using email to send around proprietary business materials.

Secure document sharing platforms address and fix these concerns because the leading vendors offer security and data controls that include collaboration tools to ensure only the key eyes have access and are held accountable to review documents.

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Overview of Secure Document Sharing Platforms

There are many cloud-based technology companies that offer a variety of services and products to provide business with software to improve operations and protect their data.

From cloud storage and document management to online backup services and data room providers, there are many options to help companies securely share confidential and sensitive documents. There is a lot of crossover in the purpose and function of these services because they all leverage internal servers to store client data.

For example, many online backup services allow users to share files, and many online file sharing services backup user data on company servers. However, there are differences in the features and functionality in secure document sharing platforms and similar online file services.

Secure document sharing platforms provide security features while enabling collaboration functionality.

How do online file sharing services work?

Online file sharing services are technology companies that offer software solutions to host data, such as presentations, documents and graphics, on the vendor’s secure hosting environment. The platform providers maintain control of the online hosting environment to ensure data is accessible 24/7. Companies can rely on secure document sharing services to handle data security, so they can focus on getting business done.

The filing sharing services provide customers with account access that enables companies to upload files to the secure services and share links to those documents with co-workers and clients via a link.

The best online document sharing services are more than file hosting platforms because they are also platforms for collaboration. Users can invite co-workers and clients to work on a specific file or folder, which enables everyone to  make changes, add files and communicate ideas within the platform and avoid versioning issues.

Secure Document Sharing Platforms

There are many suitable options that offer secure document sharing services. To be an effective document sharing platform, then companies must meet standard data security standards and offer collaboration tools that simplify operations for their customers. During the evaluation process, then keep in mind the additional features and pricing to ensure the vendor meets the specific needs of your organization.

  1. CapLinked

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CapLinked provides a secure platform that is optimized to work on mobile and across all platforms and devices making it easier for busy executives to review sensitive information. The CapLinked platform is an ideal solution for all secure document sharing needs because at the core of the software is industry leading data security capabilities.

The CapLinked solution is built on modern computer language designed for the web, which is where document sharing occurs. Because the CapLinked software is built on Ruby on Rails technology, no plug-ins are required and the capabilities are consistent across all various browsers, operating systems and devices. CapLinked does not require in-house IT departments to patch mobile devices or restrict access to certain employee devices.

  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Mobile Compatibility
  • Audit Tracking
  • Collaboration
  • Data Protection
  • Data Storage Management
  • Role-Based Permissions
  • Secure Preview

CapLinked customers receive all of the listed features with the basic account, which starts at $39 per month per user. The low entry level price points makes CapLinked an option for all small, mid and large companies.

Pricing: $$

2. Onehub

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OneHub designs and builds online business collaboration tools that are enjoyable to use and improve productivity. OneHub focuses on collaboration tools, which include secure document sharing services that enhance interactions between clients and colleagues. Onehub offers secure, easy-to-use and cost-effective products with no long-term contract lockups. Plus, the software includes integration with major third-party applications like Google Drive that enables commenting on the file or folder level to encourage collaboration.

In addition to the additional layers of collaboration, OneHub offers enhanced document security through the proprietary “stealth mode” feature that provides blinders to limit users to view only specific content. The feature is perfect sharing the same information with multiple bidders and competitors. Among other standard benefits and services, OneHub offers the following.

  • Data Protection
  • Data Storage Management
  • Role-Based Permissions
  • Secure Preview

The most popular OneHub pricing plan is the Business Plan that starts at $99.95 per month and includes 5 users accounts and unlimited workspaces and storage. OneHub also includes a Team Plan that helps small teams or businesses that starts at $29.95 per month. The Team option includes 3 users and 1 TB of storage. The Business Plan includes many more features that help secure confidential materials such as password-protected links, session timeouts, additional data room security, document watermarks, audit tracking, full text search and 24/7 phone support.

Pricing: $$

3. Firmex

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Firmex provides a cloud-based solution for sharing large volumes of confidential documents. The company built its reputation on customer service that provides in-house support for all customers, with customer service operatives available 24/7/365. Firmex markets that customers will not have to wait longer than 15 minutes for a response, and calls are not transferred, so customers only speak to one person to solve any issues.

Business across a variety of industries, from M&A, compliance, litigation and procurement rely on Firmex to provide a secure and stable online document sharing platform that enables collaboration to complete business transactions in a timely manner.

Firmex concentrates on world-class security matched with an a strong reputation for customer support to provide solutions to securely share their highly confidential documents. Among the security and service benefits that Firmex offers, the platform also provides the following features.

  • Easy to Add Users and Documents
  • Collaboration and Auto Organize Documents with Version Control
  • Data Protection and Auto Expire Old Documents
  • Data Storage Management
  • Role-Based Permissions
  • Secure Preview

Firmex attempts to provide a pricing structure that makes sense. The plans offer unlimited users, projects, pages and data storage at a fixed price without any hidden fees. The fixed rate pricing targets the middle market and mid-size businesses.

Pricing: Please contact Firmex for details.

 

4. Box

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Box is a well-known company that offers a variety of products and services based on the cloud storage. Most people are aware of Box via its personal cloud storage products, but Box also offers large companies secure document sharing capabilities as part of their overall enterprise solutions.

Box focuses providing document sharing to enterprise level companies provides enterprises with the ability to create a secure hosting environment in minutes and start sharing document with potential partners or customers safely by applying variable permissions restricting upload, edit or preview. Box allows managers to create project folders, upload document and apply layers of protection so only the right eyes see the appropriate confidential documents. Among the intuitive user experience, Box also offers the following benefits.

  • Mobile Access with Desktop Sync
  • Data Loss Prevention and File Locking
  • Premier Content Security
  • Unlimited Third Party Application Integrations
  • Workflow Automation and Audit Tracking
  • Admin and Help Desk Role Delegation
  • Two-Factor Authentication

Box has multiple pricing options that are based on individual and small business plans. The Business Plan that starts at $15 per month per user with a minimum of 3 users and unlimited storage.

Pricing: $$

5. SugarSync

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SugarSync is a powerful, yet simple secure document sharing platform that offers some of the largest amount of storage capacity available on the market today! In addition to providing a secure hosting environment, SugarSync offers backup for unlimited machines, Mac or Windows. Plus, users can add or edit a file on one device and it will instantly be available on another device meaning the solution provides real-time backup that enables everything to be accessed anywhere.

SugarSync provides one of the best mobile suites because the vendor supports iOS or Android phone and tablet devices to access, share, and manage files from anywhere. SugarSync ensure that any file that is edited will be instantly updated, so the latest version is always available. Also, due to the enhanced mobile access, users can remotely wipe data if sensitive information is available on a mobile device.

  • Automatic & Continuous Real-Time Backup
  • Secure File Sharing
  • Remotely Wipe Data
  • Comprehensive Mobile Productivity Suite

SugarSync offers an introductory plan $7.49 per month that includes 100GB, while the standard plan is $9.99 per month and includes 250 GB. For organizations that require more storage capacity, then there are additional tiers for more storage. Business plans start at $55 per month.

Pricing: $

6. ShareFile

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ShareFile, which is part of the Citrix family of business security software products, focuses on providing secure data environments to enterprise level companies. The ShareFile software intersects at the corner of security and simplicity. The software is hosted and run as a cloud-based application to avoid unnecessary downloads or installations. Plus, ShareFile offers 24/7 customer support that provides information ranging from quick tips to help with large data uploads.

ShareFile delivers secure files that are able to be synced and shared across all corporate and personal devices, so team members remain in a stable and secure work environment. Plus, ShareFile offers customizable workflow solutions to help managers organize and facilitate review of sensitive information, which means managers can set access rights and control permissions at the document level to ensure sensitive data is only seen by the right eyes. Among the other services and features, ShareFile provides the following benefits.

  • Flexible Storage
  • Third Party Application Integration
  • Audit Tracking
  • Collaboration
  • Data Protection
  • Data Storage Management
  • Role-Based Permissions

Although ShareFile provides multiple pricing options, the software focuses at the enterprise market, which may price small and mid sized businesses out of the market. The most popular plan starts at $100 per month for up to 5 employee accounts.

Pricing: $$$

7. Securedocs

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SecureDocs is an industry-leading secure document sharing solution designed to help companies send and receive sensitive documents quickly with strict access control. SecureDocs, which was founded in 2005, has worked with hundreds of companies to share and store sensitive business information. The platform understands that software needs to move at the speed of business and with SecureDocs, manager can setup a secure environment in 15 minutes and know proprietary data is secure with the two-factor authentication.

Primarily, SecureDocs offers multi-functional software that allows companies to leverage the platform as a secure corporate repository that is the basis of sharing confidential documents. Among the standard benefits that SecureDocs provides customers, the activity alerts feature is a point of differentiation. Project managers can set a series of activity alerts to receive email notifications and daily audit logs to administrators. Additionally, SecureDocs offers the following features.

  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Anonymity Management
  • Audit Logs
  • Data Protection
  • Data Storage Management
  • Role-Based Permissions
  • Secure Preview
  • Two-Factor Authentication

SecureDocs makes the commitment to provide a secure document sharing solution that is affordable for all business types and sizes. SecureDocs offers a flat rate fee that comes standard with the complete feature set, including two-factor authentication. SecureDocs pricing starts at $200 per month as flat fee based on an annual plan. For monthly pricing, SecureDocs costs $400 per month and $300 per month for quarterly pricing.

Pricing: $$$

8. Hightail

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Hightail, formerly known as YouSendIt, is an online document sharing service built around an exceptional platform for sharing large files and collaborating online. The Hightail platform offers a comprehensive workspace that combines the best of the standard collaboration tools with extensive third-party app integrations and standard security functionality. Hightail makes document sharing and online collaboration easy with simple drag and drop file management, along with enabling users to share an unlimited number of files.

Hightail separates from the pack because the platform offers unlimited storage and bandwidth, which means users can upload as many files as needed without worrying about budget. In addition to the unlimited data capacity, Hightail includes the standard end-to-end file encryption and protects files with 128-bit SSL encryption while in transit and with AES 256-bit encryption while data is at rest on company servers. Hightail also offers:

  • High Resolution Previews
  • Contextual Comments
  • Visual Version Controls
  • Access Code Protection
  • Mobile App for iOS and Android Devices

Hightail offers the standard free application, which may be useful for solo entrepreneurs. Although Hightail offers unlimited files, the platform is designed through “spaces” or projects and limits space size to 250 MB. The Pro Plan starts at $12 per month (or $144 annually) and includes sharing controls required for business plans.

Pricing: $

9. Carbonite

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Carbonite provides ubiquitous personal and business software that targets home and small business users. The secure document sharing functionality requires users to install the software on their computer and files will automatically be backed up into the cloud storage account. The secure environment provides enhanced security due to the foundation in backup technology. As a web-based platform, files are accessible from any computer or mobile device, along with some great functionality.

Carbonite targets businesses that want to improve access to important files, but ensure the data recovery and encryption keeps data safe and secure. Carbonite leverages 128-bit Blowfish encryption, which means data is transmitted to one of the company data centers using a Secure Socket Layer (SSL), where they are guarded 24 hours a day.

  • Unlimited Storage Capacity
  • Automatic & Continuous BackUp
  • Free Premium Support
  • Easy to Restore Data Recovery
  • 128-bit Encryption

Carbonite is an ideal cloud storage solution for small businesses that need an upgrade to historic documentation and data repositories. Pricing starts at $5 per month and includes unlimited storage and automatic backup.

Pricing: $

10. Dropbox

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Dropbox is known as a personal cloud storage service, but provides flexible and functional secure document sharing services for business users as well. Dropbox syncs files automatically and allows users to share them with family and friends, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account, which makes collaboration with external vendors seamless and easy. It’s supremely usable and intuitive, and files can be accessed from any device.

In addition, Dropbox has very widespread third-party integration. Consumers like the fact they can create files in some of the applications and upload them directly to their cloud storage account. Plus, Dropbox works on all leading devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux and native Android and iOS applications.

The Dropbox suite of tools that facilitates document sharing focuses on accessibility because users can share folders to collaborate on documents.

  • Access Files Anywhere
  • Automatic Updating of Documents
  • Share Files with Friends and Family or Teams
  • Edit & Update Documents From Any Device
  • One Month History of Changes
  • Extensive Third-Party Integration

Dropbox offers 2GB of free data storage (aimed at the individual or trial market). Plans start at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, which includes 1,000GB of storage space. The starting plan is ideal for small businesses or large teams because the storage space is quite large to meet standard operating needs.

Pricing: $

 

Benefits of Secure Document Sharing

For any business that has sensitive data, email is not an option. Secure document sharing vendors provide software platforms that provide security controls compared to email exchanges.

Many companies rely on file transfer protocol (FTP) to send and receive large files, which does offer some security advantages over email. FTP may provide an in-house option for sharing large files with employees and clients, but it has its drawbacks.

As the speed of business continues to quicken, secure document sharing shows its advantages over traditional FTP. For example, FTP sharing is often unreliable. Frequently, it was difficult to know if the file was sent successfully or if the recipient was able to receive and download the file. Often, email bounce backs would occur meaning the FTP was not successful.

Not to mention, there was no way to collaborate on document with FTP. In particular, if multiple people are required to review and comment, then all must FTP comments back to the project lead.

Secure document sharing services aim to alleviate the main FTP drawbacks.

Document Security

There are reports of data breaches and corporate computer hacks on a daily basis. Part of doing business today means understanding data security and ensuring software maintains the highest level of data security. The best document sharing platforms include the leading data security standards.

Data security starts with 256 bit file encryption.

File encryption is required for all files that are stored on the vendor servers and in transit. File encryption acts as a protective shell around a file so that a hacker cannot view the contents if they intercept it at any point.

In addition, data security means firewalls and virus scanners to protect the servers from unwanted external and internal attacks.

Also, the standard document security includes password protection tools, such as the ability to protect files with customized passwords, ensuring that only people with proper access can receive files and view the contents.

Finally, the leading standards include remote wipe functionality, which allows users to delete files remotely from any device synced to an account. For example, if an employee leaves your company or someone steals a smartphone synced to the company account, the remote wipe feature allows administrators to remove the files from the former employee’s account.

Data Sharing

Data sharing or the amount of documents that can be stored, sent and received, is a critical component to secure document sharing. Prior to cloud-based services, than many security solutions offered fixed-price models and very expensive for small or growing businesses.

The leading document sharing solutions offer variable data pricing, which means companies can find the best platform to grow with their business and not sacrifice any of the security. The best file sharing services include unlimited bandwidth on paid accounts, but offer limited bandwidth on free accounts for small companies or teams.

Most document sharing services cap the bandwidth between 20GB and 7.5TB per month. To understand these restrictions, then keep in mind that sharing a 2GB video file with 5 clients and 5 colleagues is roughly 22GB of bandwidth.

Why?

The initial upload is 2GB and every download (up to 10 in this example) is another 2GB, so if everyone views the video file, then the account would use 22GB to share this one file.

In addition to data bandwidth, there is maximum file size to consider as well. Document sharing services are better than email and FTP only if they make life easier. It is important to note the maximum file size and ensure this size is not restrictive to normal business processes. For example, some services cap the file size at 2GB, which is not practical for normal business conditions.

The more bandwidth and data capacity, the better.

Document Collaboration

One of the main benefits of leverages a document sharing platform is the collaboration tools. The software solutions offer an easy to use experience that enables online collaboration with internal users and external clients.

How?

Through the data security features, the platforms ensure “eyes only” functionality through password protection and provide folders. Administrators can set authorization at the file and folder level, so companies can rest assured that clients will not be able to poke around and see private company work.

The leading document sharing vendors accomplish this task through private folders and/or user workspaces. Private share folders simply mirror the contents of a folder with anyone invited to the folder, while digital workspaces offer a more complex platform for communicating ideas, suggestions and approvals in addition to syncing files.

Additionally, the leading file sharing solutions offer collaboration tools that enable documents to be shared with people without accounts, while syncing with the master file.

  • Public Links
  • Cross-Functional Device Syncing
  • Mobile Applications
  • Third-Party Integration

Secure document sharing means users can access files anywhere on any device. The leading document sharing platforms provide these tools that also integrate into other software to improve business processes and make any team more efficient.

Version Controls

Often, collaboration brings some issues, such as version control. If multiple people must review business documents, then it can be difficult to ensure everyone comments on the latest and greatest version.

During the evaluation criteria, then managers should understand the versioning functionality. The best document sharing services maintain every version created, while others only maintain a limited number. Depending on specific workflows and core functionality, the number of saved versions could be an important component to selecting the best document sharing platform.

Particularly for sensitive documents, it is important to track who has access and who has viewed confidential materials. A main benefit of secure document sharing solutions is version control, which provide:

  • comprehensive audit logs.
  • folder permissions.
  • identity verification.
  • file locking.
  • file-access expiration settings.

Standard Document Sharing Pricing

Most secure document sharing platforms offer multiple tiers of pricing. It is the industry norm to offer a free plan, which is typically geared towards individuals, but offers companies a low cost way to test the software solution.

For any business that needs a stable document sharing solution, then it is important to review the standard paid plans, which provide larger amounts of bandwidth and storage capacity.

For example, free plans typically limit data storage to 2GB and a very small amount of bandwidth. While this is sufficient for consumers, it is not an option for business needs.

Typically, the single-user plan, which services usually call a personal or professional plan, is ideal for self-employed people or professionals within a company. The most significant difference between the single-user and the business plans is the number of users allowed access to the account.

Standard Features Online File Sharing Platforms

Secure document sharing services offer a variety of benefits compared to general cloud-based business software. It is important to evaluate the leading document sharing platforms based on their core offerings, but also additional features that may make one vendor a better fit for a specific company or organizational need. For some, these features are superfluous, but for others, especially small businesses, they are critical.

  • Trial Accounts

Trial accounts typically last 15 or 30 days and allow companies to gauge how the service meets the specific needs of an organization. In particular, review the solutions based on ease of use and how well users can share and access files, the security of data and the file-tracking controls.

  • e-Signature

Many document sharing platforms provide e-signature functionality that allow certain users to accept and receive electronic signatures for documents that require signatures. This streamlines many business practices by eliminating the time wasted on traditional mail because managers can send a contract to a client and have it signed in minutes, as opposed to waiting days or weeks for the mail to transfer the contract.

  • Help & Support

Business happens 24/7, so look at the help and support services. If an urgent issue occurs and customer support is required, then will the vendor have a live customer support representative available to fix any problems? The leading document sharing solutions offer 24/7 phone, live chat and email ticket support. Some file hosting sites include 24/7 support with their subscriptions, others require an additional fee for this service.

Secure Document Sharing Platform Considerations

From increased tracking and reliability to enhanced security and collaboration, more businesses are relying on secure document sharing services to get work done. Technology continues to improve and the competition continues to drive down prices, which makes this niche of cloud-based business software more appealing to all companies. Secure document sharing platforms are becoming the next “big” service businesses everywhere are considering.

  • Reduce Email Dependency

There are too many emails. It is difficult to find important documents and secure document platforms help solve that problem. One of the most frustrating things about sending large files via email or through an FTP network is the possibility of email bounce backs. Plus, with online document sharing services, bounce backs are nearly eliminated, letting managers focus on more important things than file delivery.

Additionally, there are file size limits with email. Secure document sharing solutions enable people to send large files (larger than the standard 2GB limit) and avoid multiple emails to send large documents.

  • Keep Files Secure

Businesses are choosing to store documents online because speciality service providers focus on data security. Through password protection, audit capability, remote wiping and more, secure document sharing platforms understand how to limit and control access to sensitive information.

  • Cost-Effective Solution

The only real alternative to online document sharing is leveraging an FTP network, which generally costs more than the leading secure document sharing platforms. Plus, in order to send files via FTP, there is significantly more training compared to user-friendly online sharing platforms. With online file sharing platforms, anyone can quickly learn how to use them thanks to the drag-and-drop functionality that is found on the interface of the leading platforms.

Secure document sharing software solutions are rapidly becoming an invaluable tool for small, mid and large businesses, along with startups, looking for a quick and easy way to share files. The benefits of secure document sharing platforms are hard to ignore, making this industry an option to definitely consider for any organization with the need to share any documents.