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Best secure file transfer solutions of 2021

(Image credit: Pixabay)
Best secure file transfer solutions

1. pCloud

2. SpiderOak

3. Enigmail

4. Resilio

5. Signal

Read on for our detailed analysis of each service

Two decades ago, sharing a large file with another party was quite difficult. One of the most common and only available options for many at that time, was to save the file on a disc and deliver it personally to the recipient. The practice was unlovingly referred to as sneakernet.

It is such a relief for the modern world that file sharing has become a really convenient task nowadays with the help of a secure and reliable file sharing solution. Because dealing with huge files is a common thing for most businesses, there is a growing need to integrate a secure solution for file sharing in business operations. This is an investment that is highly recommended nowadays. However, before actually doing so, you should deal with some groundwork first. 

You must understand the nature of file sharing and what you need from a file-sharing solution. There are a lot of options on the market nowadays and you might end up making poor choices if you do not know what you are getting into.

What is SFTP and why should you opt for one?

The world abounds in basic file transfer protocols (FTP). However, they are not the best option for you and your business. Organizations own files that contain highly confidential and sensitive information. When they are transmitted using basic FTP, there is no encryption or any similar strategy to conceal the information. As a result, it is available for anyone to intercept and access. 

This is where SFTP or Secure File Transfer Protocol comes into the picture to save the day. Basically, this gives an additional layer of protection to keep your files from getting compromised. Your best option, therefore, is in the form of a secure file transfer solution with SFTP.

Before investing in any of the many file transfer solutions available online, you should take the time to evaluate each of the options you are considering according to certain characteristics.

The top consideration is security. Greater security is always better. No business wants its data to be compromised in any way. In order to do that, you should find a secure file transfer solution that comes with a complete set of security measures for protecting your information and keeping possible hackers away.

Compatibility is another important factor. Businesses do not use only one type of application daily. If your file transfer solution does not cater to all forms of data, you might end up losing a significant amount of data in the process. Therefore, you should opt for a solution that works across common protocols like FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and HTTPS at the very least. 

The third, but definitely not less important, characteristic of the file transfer solution is its controllability. Representatives of the organization should be able to control who can be given access to the file and the transfer based on the need and the person’s role in the organization. 

With all the basics duly covered on what secure file transfer is and how to find the best one, we have taken an additional step to comb the Internet for the topmost secure file transfer solutions, assess them thoroughly and present the 10 best ones for you to further choose from. Here they are:


(Image credit: pCloud)

1. pCloud

The most secure cloud storage facility

Reasons to buy
+Cloud storage +Encryption+Good price
Reasons to avoid
-Document editor unavailable-No additional services

Based in Switzerland, pCloud boasts of the same cleanliness and tidiness that the streets of Geneva and Zurich are known for. pCloud is a cloud storage service that naturally allows you to save files and access them wherever you are using different computers and devices. The service allows for the storing, sharing, and syncing of very large files, even giving its users the option to store their data in the US or Europe. 

Unlike the more popular and commonly used yet less secure ones though, pCloud incorporates encryption into its system for added security for your files. This is a feature added for clients to add a password for protecting their files as they send them online. In addition to that, this solution can be used in many types of devices from Windows to macOS to Linux as well as Android and iOS hardware. They even have a web platform, too. This is a recent innovation that many users have come to appreciate.


(Image credit: SpiderOak)

2. SpiderOak

The file-sharing option with military-level security

Reasons to buy
+Very secure+Central device management
Reasons to avoid
-Limitation in the collaboration tools-Limitation in file sizes

The services that SpiderOak offers encompass cloud back up and file hosting. The company started in 2007 and has been giving users the ability to access their files, synchronize and share them with the use of a cloud-based server. It places great value on keeping data private and secure. It has a “zero-knowledge” standard for all of its services, which means only the clients can access the data they have stored. SpiderOak themselves are not privy to any of the data from the clients.

Being private and secure is the top priority of SpiderOak for its clients. As a result, the tool comes with a completely simple and easy-to-use design. Both the central device management and admin console are direct and plain. A drag-and-drop option is also ready to make file organizing fast and easy. You can manage your account to set permissions or evaluate usage through the app’s dashboard. The centralized device management dashboard settings also allow users to use the back-up selection as well as set up sharing.

There are two ways for sharing files with SpiderOak. One is through a single file sharing link where you have the ability to create a unique URL to share with your intended recipient. The link expires after three days, keeping your file secure from unauthorized access by controlling who has the link and how long it is available. 

Another option is through ShareRooms, which allows a folder to be shared to others, who can download it and its contents. The recipients of the file are not required to have a SpiderOak account. The ShareRooms are accessible through any browser. Upon upload of the data, SpiderOak employs an encryption keys series, creating a set of encryption keys for each of the file and folder that you have uploaded. Your data remains secure and safe from those who are not authorized to access it. The limitation with SpiderOak is how it does not have the collaboration tools that most cloud storage services have. 


(Image credit: Enigmail)

3. Enigmail

The best option for securing your emails

Reasons to buy
+Comes with standard encryption+Has a Thunderbird plugin
Reasons to avoid
-Requires Thunderbird

The Thunderbird email client is a free offering from Mozilla as an alternative to Outlook. It is an open-source application, so you can install it on either Apple, Windows and even Linux operated devices. One of the plug-ins that come with Thunderbird is Enigmail. This plugin utilizes Open PGP for encrypting and signing your sent and received emails digitally. It was initially introduced in 2001 and is currently leading in popularity as a PGP setup.

With Enigmail, there is no need to work around specific encryption protocols. You can employ a secure solution of your own without much effort. The biggest disadvantage though is how it works on Mozilla Thunderbird only. It can also be fine-tuned to suit your specific needs by utilizing its configuration options according to your preferences. It has a lot of configuration choices for you to control the flow of email encryption. The biggest disadvantage though is how it works on Mozilla Thunderbird only.


(Image credit: Resilio)

4. Resilio

The best option for file syncing

Reasons to buy
+Best for syncing files between peers+Top-performing
Reasons to avoid
-Not available for all sources

Previously known as BitTorrent Sync, Resilio is all about synchronizing files. It uses the protocol of BitTorrent. The best thing about this service is how you have the ability to sync files between two devices directly without the need to share them via another cloud service. All it really needs is for both devices to be online at the same time. The files are then shared in real-time and equipped with 128-bit AES security. Since BitTorrent was initially designed for the purpose of sharing huge files, you can rest assured that Resilio is reliable in the task of doing so.

There are three different service packages from Resilio namely; Sync Home, Sync Business, and Resilio Connect. The first one is all about an individual’s personal needs, giving you the ability to deal with more than one device in your home. It can be used for both individual and family use. A free version is available for Mac, Linux, and Windows as well as a paid professional version.

Sync Business is designed for businesses with different level plans to suit the size of your team. It comes with standard end-to-end encryption and no bandwidth limitations at all. It is also equipped with data reduction and file-level duplication abilities. Resilio Connect, on the other hand, is more geared towards global companies as it is designed for enterprise-level platforms. 


(Image credit: Signal)

5. Signal

The best tool for securing your messages

Reasons to buy
+Topnotch encryption+Open-source
Reasons to avoid
-Scanty interface

Open source, reviewed by peers, and run by donations and grants: these are just some of the characteristics of Signal, and they are also some of the good reasons why more people trust this messaging app as a form of file transfer solution. The open-source nature of its encryption engine makes it open for anyone to inspect and review for further development.

Encryption is a leader in the industry, but the whole interface is quite plain and basic in terms of its physical appearance. The visuals are plain and pretty direct. As a messaging app, it is quite useful with the availability of group chats as well as sharing photos and files. You can also use Signal as the default messaging app, but there is no encryption on basic SMS service. Signal has to be installed for you and your contact for the encryption to work. The app also has some additional features like video calls and disappearing messages.  


(Image credit: Box)

6. Box

Most secure file access across device

Reasons to buy
+Best for business and enterprises
Reasons to avoid
-A bit unintuitive

Highly compared with Dropbox (probably due to the names), Box is geared more towards the bigger businesses and corporations. It is highly invested in enterprise collaboration and cloud content management using integrations with services like G-suite. It offers a free plan with 10GB storage and a 250MB limit on the upload. For greater storage and upload sizes, it has paid accounts costing $5 to $25 monthly.

With Box, you do not have to download the file in order to share it. You can easily and simply share directly from Box by creating a link. There are also no limits on the file that you can share with anyone, whether a part of your organization or outside of it. You do not have to send emails with large attachments and have a headache because of the issues they bring. You also get to preview the files, no matter what file type they may be. Whether it is a Word file, an Excel one  or a PDF, you do not have to download them to see what is inside.

File sharing and collaboration all happens in the cloud with Box. The person who you have sent the file to can actually access the file and even edit it, make comments on it and even send it back to you even without a Box account. 

Citrix ShareFile

(Image credit: Citrix)

7. Citrix ShareFile

A simple and secure approach to file transfer

Reasons to buy
+Robust security
Reasons to avoid
-No free service

A secure content collaboration, file sharing, and sync software, ShareFile was built in 2005 and acquired by Citrix Systems in 2011. With this software, you can share files with ease and comfort. Whether it is internally with your colleagues or with external contacts such as clients and partners, sharing files can be done securely using the Sharefile service. In addition to that, it also has very persuasive tools for business operations such as document collaboration, workflow management, e-signatures as well as Gmail and Outlook integration.

Its security features are vigorous. You can customize the permission settings, and the dashboard allows you to add new users as well as move between different folders. It is available for use with Android, iOS, and Windows. Accounts can cost anywhere between $10 to $338 a month depending on the number of users and the amount of storage required. They include an unlimited number of users, a workflow for approvals and feedback, third-party integration, and a detailed activity log. 


(Image credit: Hightail)

8. Hightail

The go-to file sharing service

Reasons to buy
+Works well with other file sharing services
Reasons to avoid
-Limited free package

Previously known as YouSendIt, the current Hightail comes with an interface with Spaces, which are shared by groups, making it the ideal file sharing service for groups. You basically create a Space and assign a name to it and determine the goals of the project for which the Space is to be used. Photos, videos, and all other file types can then be added to the Space for others to approve. You can also track any activities as well as keep certain files in private as drafts and share them with specific individuals using access codes. 

Hightail works perfectly with other services and any third-party app integration. You can drag a file into it from your own computer or other sites such as  Dropbox or Google Drive. It works for Android and IOS as well as  MacOS and Windows. It offers a plan for individual file sharing and a different one for collaborations between teams, which has added features to promote how they work together. 

The free plan currently has a limit of 100MB while the paid accounts range from $12 to $36. Paid plans come with features such as notifications for deliveries, password protection, sent file tracking, expiration date control as well as phone support. 


(Image credit: MediaFire)

9. MediaFire

The best free file sharing option

Reasons to buy
+Free service+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Does not work with Windows and MacOS

A less popular option in file sharing and storage service, MediaFire is very competitive in what it has to offer. Its free plan comes with 10GB of storage and allows the upload of files of up to 4GB in size. The service itself is supported by ads, and it has an automatic scanner for any virus in your files. This is a feature that is not always available with similar services. It is definitely a nice giveaway considering how the service is for free. 

You can also create a one-time download link and can easily share your own links on your social media accounts. The interface of MediaFire is quite intuitive, and it is pretty simple to use. Its paid accounts for professional and business usage range from $3.75 to $40 monthly. 

Naturally, if you opt for the business plan, you do not have to deal with the advertisements when downloading and sharing. You can download whole folders and upload files from any site. There are also additional features such as brand customizing as well as access to a security log with all the necessary details you might need.


(Image credit: Tresorit)

10. Tresorit

Simple and completely secure file storage

Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Free plan available
Reasons to avoid
-The very limited free plan

A European cloud file storage company, Tresorit made itself popular when it challenged hackers to get into its servers for a price of $50,000. It claimed that no one succeeded in doing so. The company focuses on optimum security as it highlights its offers of end-to-end encryption in sharing and syncing files, compliance with GDPR and HIPAA, and being backed up by internationally-renowned privacy laws among other security measures. Customers in other countries have been offered recently with the option for data residency.

Tresorit comes with a wide selection of plans for personal, business, or enterprise use. It does have a free plan, but this is very limited to only 5GB of files for sharing and cannot be stored in. It offers a free trial, which lasts for 14 days only and requires credit card details upon registration, too. Paid accounts range from $10.42 to $24 a month with variations in the amount of storage and the number of users. Additional features with the paid accounts include an admin console, branding, integration with Outlook, and “zero-knowledge” protection.


(Image credit: SugarSync)

11. SugarSync

Seamless and easy syncing

Reasons to buy
+Smart to use
Reasons to avoid
-Limited to Outlook

SugarSync comes with this sweet ability to simply right-click on the folder, and it gets synced right away as long as your SugarSync desktop application is ready. It also gives you the ability to create a designated folder on your computer for all the files that are sync to the service, which used to be automatically called Magic Briefcase but is now My SugarSync.

The biggest limitation of the service though is the lack of integrated third-party tools and even simply two-factor authentication beyond Microsoft Outlook. There is also no actual free plan but only a free trial plan with 5GB only. Paid accounts cost as low as $7.5 and as much as $133 per month with Outlook integration, user management, and 256-bit AES encryption.

Many of these options have similar services and advantages, but some might work better for your file sharing and syncing needs. It is all up to you to determine which one suits you and your requirements best.