Collaboration is king when it comes to working digitally. Being able to send files from one user to another and allow multiple people to work in one space without being physically present is absolutely essential to the kind of flexibility that gives us the ability to work freelance – working remotely, accessing information on multiple devices and staying in touch with our customers when it comes to discussing milestones, goals and completed tasks.
Choosing a flexible, logical file sharing program can make or break your business. If a file-sharing program isn’t intuitive to most people the first time they use it, most will inherently distance themselves from it. With all the new technology we face every day, from our smartphone apps to new software at work to laptops, desktops, tablets, etc., file sharing applications should be as simple as drag and drop. Still, many of us struggle to find software and/or sharing apps that meet our needs.
What are the best file sharing programs? What flaws have ruined your productivity? If you’ve been freelancing for a few months, you’ve no doubt come across some great and not-so-great interfaces you’ve worked with clients on. Here’s a look at some of the better options out there.
One of the best features of Google is: Motive, which allows you to store up to 15 GB of data for free. If you want to upgrade for business or other reasons, it costs $1.99/month for 100 GB or $9.99/month for 1 TB. The best feature of Drive is that it is super easy to learn and gives you the handy option to allow other users to view or edit a document. I use Drive for my portfolio so potential clients can view work I’ve done in the past in a simple format. The downside to Drive is that if your Internet connection slows down, you’ll get messages like “Working” or “Reconnecting.” If you haven’t previously selected the option to work offline, this can slow down your efficiency significantly, as any open document will not be available until Drive re-establishes an appropriate connection.
Droplr — File sharing and more
While Drive is suitable for a freelancer who primarily writes and edits, droplr is a huge asset for those leaning more technical and complex. Sharing source code and giving and receiving visual feedback is a breeze with Droplr’s screencast option. In fact, you can go beyond collaboration and use Droplr as a customer service interface with the annotated screenshots feature that allows customers to send you a picture of their specific pain point with attached text, as well as reply in kind. If you are an individual using Droplr, it will be $5-10 per month. If you want to buy it for a team, it costs $8/user/month for up to 10 team members.
Dropbox — The name in File Sharing
Dropbox is exactly what it sounds like. A box where you put your stuff – files of any kind. You then make the box available to others so that they can view, edit, and manipulate those files. Sometimes the 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 login page instead of the file I need to open. And while Drive can let anyone view files, even if you don’t have a Google account, you’ll need to sign in to Dropbox to access everything on the system. DropBox starts with rates of $8.25/month for 1TB of space, and goes up to $12.50/month for twice the space.
Box — Security, focused on collaboration
Not to be confused with Dropbox, Box is very cool for people who don’t like working online when using Word documents. Box allows you to download an extension for Microsoft Word that opens 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 lets you automatically upload it back to its original location. If you’re the type of person who hates to download a file, search it through your Download folder on your computer, make changes, and then have to search for it again to upload it back to the server, this is definitely the file sharer for you. The Starter plan costs just $5 per month for 100GB of storage, while the Business plan costs $15 per month for unlimited file storage.
Huddle — Collaboration and File Storage
Tailored to slightly larger small businesses, huddled is a good collaboration tool. It provides clear lines of communication and easy file uploads and downloads. Like most 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 about these services is that most have free trials so you can try them out before using any of them to run your business and build your portfolio.