At some stage everyone has had to send a file that is too big for email. A better way than sending it by post is to use an online file sharing service – and intense competition in this space has seen a dramatic collapse in cost.
There are dozens of companies selling these services to businesses and individuals but businesses also use popular online file storage services to share large files directly. Aggressive pricing strategies by Google and Microsoft has forced others to follow suit.
We picked the two most popular online file sharing services and the four most popular online file storage services as the most likely group of programs for business use.
The two-part comparison looks at how much storage is included in the free plan. We also compared how much the first paid plan cost and its storage limit as businesses typically outgrew the free plan with regular use.
Read the profiles of the services below or skip to the comparison tables at the end.
Online File Sharing Services
Based in San Francisco, California, Hightail (formerly YouSendIt) was founded in 2004 and has over 40 million registered users in nearly 200 countries. High profile clients include Absolut and Hershey’s. Lite users can share 250MB of files and store 2GB with five e-signatures for free before upgrading to Professional, Teams or Enterprise plans. Hightail Lite includes secure data encryption, mobile and desktop app access and can verify recipients of files.
The Professional plan costs US$14.99 a month or US$149.99 a year. Users can share up to 10GB of files and it has unlimited storage access and e-signatures. Additional features in the Professional plan include a Microsoft Outlook plugin and the ability to send files to people without Hightail accounts.
The multi-user Teams Plan costs US$23.99 a month per user, for two to 100 users. Extra features include custom branding and the ability to add and remove users.
The Enterprise plan (inquire for price) adds the following features: Microsoft SharePoint integration, administration and security controls such as content sharing policies, content lifecycle management, single sign-on integration, mobile device policies, premium support, dashboards and analytics reporting and more.
The software can be used across Android and iOS devices as well as PCs and Macs.
Newcomer Copy was launched as a file sharing service in 2013 by Barracuda Networks, a hard drive manufacturer.
Copy made a name by itself with unlimited storage on its free plan for companies with up to five users. Enterprises with more than 10 employees pay US$79 per month or US$899 per year for all the storage required.
Users on the Personal plan can store up to 15GB and sign five electronic documents per month. A Pro user receives 250GB of storage and an unlimited amount of e-signatures for US$9.99 per month or US$99 per year. There are no file size limits, bills can be split between friends who share files and privacy settings allow users to control who can view the data.
Copy works on Windows, Mac and Linux and all iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices.
Online File Storage Services
Dropbox is another popular option and the best known name in online file storage. The tech startup is based in San Francisco and was founded in 2007 with more than 200 million global users.
The free plan includes 2GB of storage, which can increase through referrals. Pro users pay US$9.99 per month for 100GB and Business users pay US$15 per month per user with unlimited storage and version history. Business users also have the ability to add more than five users synced to one account.
Dropbox is the most compatible service with apps available for Android, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Kindle Fire.
Google’s online file storage service Google Drive is included with every Gmail account, both the free consumer version or as part of the paid Google Apps for Business service. Users receive 15GB of free storage across Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photos.
Google once had the cheapest online storage – until Dropbox introduced its unlimited storage plan.
Users can upgrade to 100GB for US$1.99, 1TB for US$9.99, 10TB for US$99.99, 20TB for $199.99 and 30TB for US$299.99 per month.
Microsoft recently rebranded SkyDrive Pro as a standalone service called OneDrive to compete with DropBox and Box. It is also included as part of its cloud productivity suite Office 365. Users start out with 7GB of free storage and pay US$25 for an additional 50 GB, US$50 for 100GB, US$100 for 200GB on an annual plan (it’s the only vendor not to charge monthly).
Microsoft offers an extra 100GB for those who purchased Office 365 and through a referral program.
Egnyte was founded in 2008 in Mountain View, California and provides online file sharing for businesses and enterprises.
It has three plans, with no free option. Office offers 1TB of storage for US$8 per employee per month and is targeted for SMBs with five to 24 staff.
Users also have the choice to purchase an additional 500BG, 1TB and 2TB for US$74.99, US$129.99 and US$249.99 per month respectively.
Egnyte can also sync with an in-house server or storage system in case the internet connection is lost.
The Business plan for 25-100 employees costs US$15 per employee per month. Users receive an extra 1TB of storage and send files and folders as links from Outlook, custom branding and notifications. For US$16 per employee per month, optional features included audit reports, salesforce integration and premium support.
An Enterprise plan gives users 3TB of storage, increases the maximum file size to 10GB and adds other big-business features.