Although it’s quaint to think of working together with someone online on a document or video project as something that can be done while sitting side by side on the same computer, most online collaboration involves the sharing of data and information across separate computers. And whether it’s a problem with large files or trying to decipher multiple edits being done in a parallel, the need for streamlined online file sharing is important for families, individuals and businesses. Thankfully, a number of apps, cloud computing solutions and Web services can teach you how to share data online in seconds flat.
Remember the old trick you used to use where you would e-mail yourself important documents prior to a presentation or meeting to make sure you could at least access them somewhere electronically should we need to make edits? There’s no need anymore, thanks to the rise of wireless networks, mobile devices and cloud services, which make the practice seem woefully outdated. Here are 7 better ways to share data online that don’t involve e-mail attachments.
- GoogleDocs – All you need is a Google account, and you can collaborate on documents and spreadsheets in the cloud. Google Docs eliminates worries over “version control” with quick, automatic saves that ensure that anytime anyone access the document, they’re seeing the most current version. The main drawback with Google Docs is that the functionality of their document and spreadsheet programs is rather limited, although the service does a good job of providing basic functionality and similarity to Microsoft’s popular Office products.
- Microsoft Office Web Apps – Since many folks are most well-versed in Microsoft’s Excel, Word and PowerPoint programs, it’s great that the company has found a way to allow these to be shared online collaboratively. Using only a Windows Live ID (and a valid license for Office products), you can store, edit and share your documents online the way they were created.
- Acrobat – Adobe’s file sharing solutions are less focused on group collaboration and more on interaction. Although the firm does allow for manipulation of their proprietary .PDF docs, it also provides a robust suite of web forms, online signing apps and even large-file sharing services that make it simple to share data online. Although each service does offer a free, limited trial, there are paid versions which allow for deeper and unlimited form creation and sharing.
- Dropnox – Dropbox allows users to upload large files and e-mail a link to others where they can download them, or collaborate and share using cloud folders whose contents synchronze across users’ desktops. It offers a decent amount of space for free (2GB), with bonuses for referring new sign-ups. Depending on your usage, you can update to 50GB or 100GB plans for around $100 per year or $200 year respectively, or choose a more serious, customizable option if your needs are greater than that. Dropbox makes file sharing extremely simple, and doesn’t require passwords for your recipients to download.
- YouSendIt – A service that lets you upload large files then send them to coworkers and family members as simple web links. YouSendIt’s paid programs are more impressive than the free service, although if your file is less than 50MB big, then YouSendIt Lite is a nice version. But for files larger than that, you’ll need to spend either $100 or $150 per year to receive greater storage, control over expiration dates, and even tracking results in the YouSendIt premium ProPlus package.
- Box.com – Box.com offers 5GB of free file storage, and offers a number of other user-friendly features, such as the ability to upload entire folders with of data and files at the same time. It also offers apps that are maximized for mobile devices, and provide online document collaboration as well. This is a great solution for businesses large and small that need a common drive for their materials that can be accessed by many different people from many different locations. Plans start at $15 per user per month, but the company also provides customizable options and quotes for businesses and users with greater needs.
- Google Drive – Google is attempting to make “cloud storage” simple, easy and understandable for casual users with Google Drive. Its simple drag and drop interface and connection to users’ Google e-mail accounts just may help them succeed. It’s a great free option, with up to 5GB for free to store photos, resumes, school projects and more.