The best file sharing apps enable increased cooperation across hybrid workforces in homes and in offices. They help make workflows more efficient, secure, and simple. Many of the top providers offer the best cloud storage as well as file-sharing capabilities, and this combination of services can be a boost to individual or business-level collaboration.
In a world where friends, family, and colleagues can be spread far and wide, your choice of the best cloud storage can make all the difference between easy and safe file transfers and insecure services that risk a loss of data or important files.
We've extensively tested the most popular file sharing apps on the market. Below, we've reviewed and ranked the best file sharing apps currently available, with a particular focus on each service's security tools as well as the amount of free data storage and transfer available. Read on to find your file-sharing provider.
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pCloud: Get 500GB storage for life for $175
Offering a suite of top additional features beyond cloud storage, pCloud provides backup and restore functions, playlists and video streaming, and link sharing for files. Its individual plans offer lifetime subscriptions, with its cheapest offering 500GB of storage for a one-off $175.
The top 3 file sharing apps right now
The best file sharing apps of 2023 in full
Google Drive offers nearly all of the same functionality as Microsoft OneDrive, but its free plan goes further in providing an impressive 15GB of free storage, which may be plenty for smaller enterprises. And like OneDrive, it allows you to share, create, and edit files with ease.
Google is a huge multinational firm with top-level security capabilities, so your data is in good hands during transfers. However, privacy could be a concern, and they will probably collect some of your online activity for advertising reasons. It is also an oversight that the service offers no password protection options when sharing a file.
Overall, we like Google Drive's extensive support for its third-party applications, affordable pricing, and extensive set of backup options. Its apps also work well on a wide range of platforms.
Read our Google Drive review and our Drive Enterprise review.
Dropbox was one of the earliest file-sharing platforms to become a household name, and it has had time to hone its offering. Several pricing plans under both its Individual and Business tranches means you can find the right setup to suit your needs. If you’re not entirely sure, they also offer a free 30-day trial.
In terms of security, there are a couple of concerns. Firstly, Dropbox has a huge market share, and so—along with its rivals—it is naturally an obvious target for malicious attacks. And secondly, the firm has reserved the right to decrypt any file that is stored on its servers, as well as disclose that information to a third party.
Thankfully, Dropbox has recently beefed up its security measures. At rest, files are protected with 256-bit encryption, and during transfers, they are encased in an SSL/TSL tunnel. If you are not looking for a specialist option, but one that is still thoroughly reliable, Dropbox is a solid way to go.
Read our Dropbox cloud storage review and our Dropbox Business review.
Box has been Dropbox’s biggest rival for some time. Previously, the former was geared towards businesses and the latter SMEs and individuals, but no longer. Both now aim to capture every part of the file-sharing market, and Box’s offering is impressive.
It has four pricing plans to choose from, but its free tier has significantly more space than Dropbox’s. Like its rival, it can be integrated with Google Workspace and Slack. It also offers a useful Keysafe feature, allowing admins to easily manage encryption keys.
In terms of usability—often a concern for Box—a recent upgrade improved things, but the platform could be streamlined further as some convoluted aspects remain.
Box is great for rapidly sharing files with friends or colleagues. You get a lot of space in the free tier, and two-factor authentication is available for improved security.
Read our Box review and our Box for Business review.
Microsoft OneDrive is packed with features, incredibly usable, and beautifully designed. In some ways it surpasses expectations. Desktop users, for example, are able to access files that they didn’t specifically decide to upload—an incredibly handy feature that shows how much time Microsoft has spent getting OneDrive right.
Being a Microsoft product, much of the advanced functionality available for OneDrive is tied to the Windows operating system, but there are also useful OneDrive apps for iOS, Android, and macOS.
In terms of security, OneDrive has never been the focus of any concerns or controversy, unlike many of its rivals, which speaks to the software’s reliability. Individual users can also individually encrypt their files locally on a hard drive, adding an additional layer of protection.
Read our Microsoft OneDrive review and our OneDrive for Business review.
Apple, too, has a cloud file sharing platform in the form of iCloud. iCloud is an attractive file-sharing option, and likely the best fit if you are already deeply integrated with the Apple ecosystem. Although the free tier offers very little space, those with an iPhone, Mac, or iPad are given 5GB free.
Aside from the 2017 phishing attack, which appears to be a one-off, Apple has steered clear of security problems with iCloud. It should therefore be a safe choice for sharing files easily over iOS and macOS.
In our testing, we were impressed at the 24-hour online chat technical support and how easy it is to get two-factor authentication working in iCloud. However, iCloud is a poor option if you primarily use Windows on your desktop computer or the Android OS on your phone, as there are no dedicated iCloud apps for these platforms.
Read our iCloud review.
SpiderOak One is a cloud storage solution with end-to-end encryption, meaning you are in charge of your encryption keys so even SpiderOak employees can't decrypt the files stored on the platform.
SpiderOak One is still a consumer-facing product at heart, without too many business-focused features of which to speak.
We found that SpiderOak One has massively prioritized security, leading to weaknesses in other areas. The design, whilst handily integrated with SpiderOak’s other products, has a few of the additional features some teams may require, such as synced, real-time document editing.
It is also a relatively expensive way to go—after the free 21-day trial, the cheapest tier is $69 for 150GB of space for a year. One benefit, however, is that every user can have unlimited devices, so it's certainly worth checking out SpiderOak One..
Read our SpiderOak review.
WeTransfer is a hugely popular filer sharer and for good reason. It’s easy to use and doesn’t require registration. Further, it is secure—all uploads are encrypted, as is the link that is sent to recipients. One caveat is its partial encryption, which means that third parties could theoretically intercept emails and gain access to files, so it’s not ideal for the most sensitive data.
WeTransfer offers a storage app called Collect that works on Android, iOS, and in your web browser. With Collect, you can gather together related content on boards. These boards can be shared with others and teams can collaborate together on boards.
WeTransfer complies with all GDPR laws and everything is encrypted with TLS and AES-256 encryption. We also found WeTransfer's customer support to be responsive and helpful.
Read our WeTransfer review.
pCloud provides a generous 10GB free storage as standard, and its premium plans are similarly generous.
pCloud is relatively unique in that you can make a single payment to get cloud storage for like. For one-off payments of $199 or $399 you can get 500GB or 2TB respectively, which is fantastic value if you utilize the service long-term.
In terms of security, pCloud is impressive. It covers most bases with 256-bit and TLS/SSL protection, but another layer of encryption is available for $5 a month.
Sadly, its editing and collaboration capabilities don’t compare to much of the competition. This may not be important if you're only looking to share or store files online, but it makes working together on documents as a team more challenging than with some other solutions.
Read our full pCloud review.
If you're looking for a basic file sharing solution just to get some files out to friends or colleagues, Send Anywhere can help. Send Anywhere is entirely free and comes with 256-bit encryption as standard, keeping your files safe in transit. Additionally, the maker of the app has insisted that they never look at the contents of any transfer.
Whilst Send Anywhere has ads on its free version and is mainly designed for sharing and not storing data, it could be ideal if you are simply looking to send files quickly. Having a smaller user base, it’s also arguably less likely to be targeted by malicious parties, but then it's also less tested.
Send Anywhere has a 10GB monthly download limit per free user account, making it most useful for those who only need to share small files with a small group of people.
|File sharing app||Free tier||Security specialty||Operating systems|
|Google Drive||15GB||Extensive backup options||iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows|
|Dropbox||2GB||256-bit encryption||iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows|
|Box||10GB||2FA||iOS, Android, macOS, Windows|
|Microsoft OneDrive||5GB||Individually-encrypted files||iOS, Android, macOS, Windows|
|iCloud Drive||1GB||Keychain passwords||iOS, macOS|
|SpiderOak Groups||N/A||Zero-knowledge encryption||iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows, Fedora|
|WeTransfer||2GB||All uploads encrypted||iOS, Android, Linux|
|pCloud||10GB||TLS/SSL encryptino||iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows|
|Send Anywhere||50GB||QR code scanning||iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows|
File sharing app FAQs
What is a file sharing app?
At its core, a file sharing app is a software application that allows users to share files with others over the internet or a local network. These files can be anything from documents and images to music and videos.
One of the most important features of a file sharing app is its ability to securely transfer files from one device to another. This is usually done using encryption protocols that ensure the data is protected from unauthorized access or interception.
Another key aspect of a file sharing app is its user interface. A good file sharing app should be intuitive and easy to use, allowing users to quickly and easily share files without having to navigate through a complex set of menus.
In addition to these core features, many file sharing apps offer additional functionality such as the ability to sync files across multiple devices, collaborate on documents in real-time, or share files with a select group of people.
Overall, a file sharing app is an essential tool for anyone who needs to share files with others on a regular basis.
How secure are file sharing apps?
Whatever form of file storage you utilize, whether on-prem or cloud storage, or even cloud storage vs external hard disk drives, file and data security is integral. While storage or sharing apps in the cloud isn't theoretically as secure as local storage, the best cloud storage and file sharing platforms utilize high-level encryption and security features.
If you're wondering is cloud storage secure, how secure is it, and how it protects your data, it's worth remembering that most providers' plans include those aimed at businesses, for whom cloud storage security is crucial. As such, providers and file-sharing platforms will invest in security, especially given international rules on data and privacy.
Important elements to look for in a provider of file-sharing technology include end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge architecture: respectively making services almost hack-proof, or preventing even a provider's staff from accessing your files and data.
If these aren't available, make sure to look for in-transit and at-rest encryption. This means that data is made indecipherable when stored and when being shared or transferred. Should a cybercriminal intercept your files, they wouldn't be able to see them.
Should you use free file sharing apps?
When it comes to casual or low-level file sharing, there's no reason not to use free file-sharing apps if you've checked that they offer security features and tools. For those with less requirement for large or sensitive file transfers, most leading providers of cloud storage or file-sharing capabilities offer free plans.
These are obviously less feature-rich than paid plans, and allowances for transfers and storage will be lower, and won't be ideal for businesses. However, if you're just looking for file-sharing on a personal level, free file-sharing apps will be more than adequate.
How to choose the right file sharing app for you
When selecting a file sharing app, there are several factors to take into account to ensure that the platform you choose suits your requirements. Firstly, it is critical to prioritize the security of the app. It is recommended that you opt for an app with robust security features, such as encryption and password protection, to ensure that your files are safe from unauthorized access.
Secondly, consider the ease of use of the app. You will want an app with an intuitive and user-friendly interface, featuring simple and easy-to-use options that make file sharing as seamless as possible.
Thirdly, take into account any file size and type limitations. Different file sharing apps have varying limitations on the size and types of files that can be shared. It is important to select an app that can handle the types of files you need to share, as well as their sizes.
Fourthly, collaboration is an essential consideration. If you need to collaborate with others on files, look for a file sharing app that offers collaboration features such as commenting, version control, and real-time editing.
Fifthly, integration is also an aspect to consider. Check if the file sharing app integrates with other tools and apps that you use to make your workflow more efficient, such as cloud storage services and project management tools.
Lastly, pricing is an important factor to consider. File sharing apps can be free or paid, with varying levels of features and storage. Consider your budget and storage needs to find the best pricing plan for you.
By taking these factors into consideration and conducting your research, you can select the most suitable file sharing app that meets your needs and preferences. This will ensure that you can share files in the most streamlined and secure way possible.
How we review the best file sharing apps and cloud storage
With many of the providers ranked above offering cloud storage as their main service, we take the same approach to reviewing that we would with any cloud storage service.
Most importantly for file-sharing, we test both upload and download times for files with each provider: both for cloud storage and for file-sharing in general, such speeds are integral when considering performance and everyday usage.
As we've noted, security is paramount, and so we analyze the security on offer from each service, including what type of encryption they provide. Customer support is a significant element of any service, and so we test customer service response times and knowledge.
Pricing and payment plans are studied, explored, and explained so that you can be sure that you've seen every option available to you as an individual consumer or as a business. Additional tools and features unique to a certain provider, or that might provide added value, are tested too; and we endeavor to compare a service to competitors too, to give you as much information as required to make the right choice.
See our testing methodology page for more information.
Next steps with file sharing apps and cloud storage
Buying cloud storage on behalf of a smaller company? Learn how to choose the best cloud storage for small businesses, and why small businesses should use cloud services.
You can also find out five top tips for data backup and recovery; the differences between cloud storage vs cloud backup vs cloud sync; and discover the best free cloud storage.