File sharing is an easy & accessible way to transfer computer data. Physically, these files are located on your computer. And you’re just using a computer network to send them over (or “share” them) to someone else.
This could be any type of digital information, whether it’s a text-based document, multimedia file, application, or graphics. Besides, a person on the other side (this could be your colleague, for example) could access your files from anywhere.
Types of file sharing
File Transfer Protocol
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is at the roots of file sharing. This was the first method invented to move data. And it stays one of the most popular types of sharing data due to its reliability & simplicity.
All you need is just to indicate the source file and the destination in the command prompt window or a file transfer protocol program. Many prefer this method also because of its accurate outcomes, especially if you’re sending large files or unusual file formats. Good examples here are Firefox and Telnet.
File sharing in the cloud works based on an entirely different principle. In this case, one user uploads their file to a central repository. Granted with access, another user downloads those data to their own device.
With this method, data is stored by a third-party provider. Still, the user can specify who they want to share their files by using different permission levels. The size of your files doesn’t matter in this case. Plus, you back up your data.
Digital asset managers that work based on cloud storage could offer you cloud sharing in more presentable ways. A good example is customizable websites where you place your files and then provide a link to the receiver.
Among renowned cloud services, there are Google Drive, Amazon S3, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.
Distributed peer-to-peer networks
Peer to peer (P2P) is file sharing without the need to connect to a central server. Instead, a distributed network of peers is used to transfer data.
On the one hand, high transfer speed is the main advantage here. Your info is gathered from different sources at a time. Plus, it’s usually cut in pieces at various source locations, which speeds up your file sharing considerably.
On the other hand, there is a security issue in this case. Since you download content from someone’s computer directly, the risk of a computer attack increases.
Instant messengers exemplify this type of sharing the most productivity. For instance, you can transfer your materials via Skype, Facebook Messenger, or Slack – all are P2P file-sharing services.
To some extent, email services are also a type of file sharing system. Most modern-day email providers allow you to attach a file like a document or an image to your message. And so a user “shares” data over the open internet.
Sharing via emails is convenient & quick. It’s also good to use when you need to comment on the materials you’re moving. Still, you cannot share large files via emails. For example, 25 MB is the maximum attachment size in Gmail. This is nothing when you need to transfer a video file.
Gmail, Outlook, Zoho, & Mail.com are only a few among lots of other email providers you can choose from.
Sharing over an operating system
Nowadays operating systems have in-built apps to share your information, provided that you have an internet connection. Providers create this option so you don’t waste much time sharing files when buying a new computer. But you can use these tools for your benefit as well.
For example, a mapped drive is your file-sharing alternative on Windows. On Mac, you can also share a whole user account or send just a specific folder if you need.
Removable storage media
If none of the online sharing options is good enough for you, you can always use removable data storage. In this case, you upload your data to a USB flash drive, external drive, etc. and transfer your files directly from one computer to another.
Of course, this method is time-consuming. You upload your data to one device, then transfer them to another. But it’s the safest way when you have to transfer very sensitive data.
Memory sticks, cards, optical discs, and external hard drives are all examples of removable storage.
Benefits & risks of file sharing
File sharing can appear useful in a range of ways:
1.You can send over large amounts of data & big files effortless and in no time;
2.Your team collaboration gets improved even though you could be distributed all across the globe;
3.Your files stay in centralized storage, which provides you with more consistency & organization;
4.You don’t have to maintain (and pay for) a centralized file server to keep your materials online & make them accessible to your employees.
Like any other technology, file sharing does not go without its risks and hazards:
1.Security is the primary factor here. While you’re receiving files, the risk exists that one of them could contain a virus or malware;
2.Similarly, the downloaded file could contain something illegal, violated copyright, for examples;
3.File sharing could be costly too, especially if you need to transfer loads of data or want to encrypt your data for more security. If you need your files to be transferred fast, also be ready to pay for the amount of bandwidth;
4.An error could occur, and so your files would be available to everyone if shared publicly.
Secure file sharing tips
File sharing is still unavoidable in today’s high-paced business environment. And it brings so much value to your company, so don’t even think about eliminating file sharing for the sake of security.
Instead, try out these best practices that will help you secure your sharing sessions:
1.Make sure all your transferred data goes encrypted. This protects your info from data breach received from external sources like hackers. Additionally, this prevents the host itself such as the cloud or email provider from viewing your data. The good news here is that most modern-day data transfer solutions encrypt your data by default.
2.Use passwords whenever sending data & make them complicated. To keep your info secure, alternate upper and lower case in your passwords. Also, use numbers and symbols. Don’t be lazy to regularly update your passwords – it’ll make your sharing even more secure.
3.Avoid sharing files via emails. These are the easiest to hack. If you’re a receiver, don’t open the attachment right away. Make sure you triple check the sender & are able to preview the file. In case you didn’t expect anything, ignore the file or at least re-ask the sender what’s in the attachment.
4.USBs are also not the best option for you. They could seem like a safe alternative, especially if you need to transfer very sensitive info. But external drives get frequently lost and could find themselves in the hands of a complete stranger. So better go for the cloud or a secure file sharing app.
5.Check your permission settings from time to time. Sometimes, you may not even notice that you’ve chosen a public sharing option. And then whenever you send a link, anyone can access your info with no limits.
File sharing is the way to transfer your digital information or resources. This option streamlines the processes in your company as you don’t waste your time on overcoming any physical distances to move your files.
If you want to expand your knowledge on file sharing, feel free to review the rest of our glossary. You’ll discover a lot of useful things about data management and would be able to operate your data more productively.