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Best file sharing apps in 2022

close-up of file sharing icons on a screen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best file sharing apps enable increased cooperation across hybrid workforces in homes and in offices, and 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 file sharing apps can make all the difference between easy and safe file transfers and unsecure services that risk a loss of data or important files.

Below, we've reviewed and ranked the best file sharing apps currently available, and took 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!

Our deals on the best file sharing apps

SpiderOak: 150GB storage for only $6 a month

SpiderOak: 150GB storage for only $6 a month
SpiderOak offers a range of cloud storage plans that feature drag-and-drop file-sharing, alongside data recovery. The Share Room web interface allows for temporary, self-destructing file sharing, and its 150GB storage plan starts at $6 a month.

pCloud: Get 500GB storage for life for $175

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.

What are the best file sharing apps?

Google Drive is our pick of the best file sharing apps. The service wraps in cloud storage, the entire Google Workspace range of platforms and apps, and serves as a top file-sharing platform via the global technology giant

Dropbox, Box, and Microsoft OneDrive are leading cloud storage platforms, and are also worth considering thanks to their excellent file-sharing capabilities offering security, ease-of-use, and great additional features. For Apple users, iCloud Drive builds on iCloud's top storage facilities to enable easier file-sharing from iOS devices.

A leader in cloud storage security, SpiderOak Groups provides cutting-edge secure file-sharing, while WeTransfer's prominent global reach and ease-of-use make it worth a look. pCloud adds excellent security to its storage services, while Send Anywhere offers unique features.

The best file sharing apps, compared
File sharing appFree tierSecurity specialtyOperating systems
Google Drive15GBExtensive backup optionsiOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows
Dropbox2GB256-bit encryptioniOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows
Box10GB2FAiOS, Android, macOS, Windows
Microsoft OneDrive5GBIndividually-encrypted filesiOS, Android, macOS, Windows
iCloud Drive1GBKeychain passwordsiOS, macOS
SpiderOak GroupsN/AZero-knowledge encryptioniOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows, Fedora
WeTransfer2GBAll uploads encryptediOS, Android, Linux
pCloud10GBTLS/SSL encryptinoiOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows
Send Anywhere50GB (transfer only)QR code scanningiOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows

The best file sharing apps available

Google Drive logo

(Image credit: Google Drive)
Affordable and almost as good as Onedrive

Specifications

Free tier: 15GB
Security specialty: Extensive backup options
Operating systems: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux

Reasons to buy

+
Generous free plan
+
Third-party integrations

Reasons to avoid

-
Few password protection options
-
Backup not available on Linux

Google Drive offers nearly all of the same functionality as Microsoft OneDrive, but its free plan goes further in providing an impressive 15GB 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.

Read our Google Drive review and our Drive Enterprise review.

Download Google Drive from the App Store
Download Google Drive from Google Play

Dropbox logo

(Image credit: Dropbox)
The breakthrough cloud platform is incredibly reliable

Specifications

Free tier: 2GB
Security specialty: 256-bit encryption
Operating systems: iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, Windows

Reasons to buy

+
Good selection of price levels
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Limited storage on free tier 

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—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 a 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.

Download Dropbox (Apple App Store)
Download Dropbox (Google Play)

Box logo

(Image credit: Box)
Less intuitive but possibly more secure than Dropbox

Specifications

Free tier: 10GB
Security specialty: Two-factor authentication
Operating systems: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows

Reasons to buy

+
Rapid uploading
+
Large free storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Confusing design choices

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.

Read our Box review and our Box for Business review.

Download Box (Apple App Store)
Download Box (Google Play)

OneDrive logo

(Image credit: Microsoft)
The best all-rounder for teams

Specifications

Free tier: 5GB
Security specialty: Individually encrypted files
Operating systems: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows

Reasons to buy

+
Great for collaboration
+
Huge functionality
+
App is easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited syncing capacity
-
Low free storage options

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. 

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.

Download OneDrive (Apple App Store)
Download OneDrive (Google Play)

iCloud logo

(Image credit: iCloud)
Apple’s platform has an attractive design and impressive functionality

Specifications

Free tier: 1GB
Security specialty: Keychain passwords
Operating systems: iOS, macOS

Reasons to buy

+
5GB free with every Apple device
+
Beautiful design

Reasons to avoid

-
No Android compatibility
-
Limited free plan

iCloud is an attractive file-sharing option, and likely the best fit if you are already deeply integrated in 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. 

Read our iCloud review.

Download iCloud Drive (Apple App Store)

SpiderOak logo

(Image credit: SpiderOak)
A slow but secure file sharer

Specifications

Free tier: N/A
Security specialty: No knowledge encryption
Operating systems: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux, Fedora

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent security
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Slow performance
-
Basic design

Like CertainSafe, SpiderOak has massively prioritized security, leading to weaknesses in other areas. The design, whilst handily integrated with SpiderOak’s other products, has 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 you can add unlimited devices to a user. 

Read our SpiderOak review.

Download SpiderOak Groups (Apple App Store)
Download SpiderOak Groups (Google Play)

WeTransfer's homepage

(Image credit: WeTransfer)
The perfect platform for lower risk transfers

Specifications

Free tier: 2GB
Security specialty: All uploads encrypted
Operating systems: iOS, Android, Linux

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly simple
+
No registration needed

Reasons to avoid

-
Partial encryption

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. 

Read our WeTransfer review.

Download WeTransfer (Apple App Store)

pCloud logo

(Image credit: pCloud)
Affordable and secure but not for collaborators

Specifications

Free tier: 10GB
Security specialty: TLS/SSL encryption
Operating systems: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux

Reasons to buy

+
Good prices
+
Unlimited file sizes
+
Additional encryption available

Reasons to avoid

-
No editing capabilities

pCloud provides a generous 10GB free storage as standard, and its premium plans are similarly generous. For one-off payments of $229 or $458 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. 

Read our full pCloud review.

Download pCloud (Apple App Store)
Download pCloud (Google Play)

Send Anywhere logo

(Image credit: Send Anywhere)

Send Anywhere

The file-sharer app on a tight budget

Specifications

Free tier: 50GB (transfer only)
Security specialty: QR code scanning
Operating systems: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Adverts
-
Files deleted after a period
-
No ongoing file management

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 the 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. 

Download Send Anywhere (Apple App Store)
Download Send Anywhere (Google Play)


File sharing app FAQs

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 aren'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 securehow secure is it, and how does it protect 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 we review 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 for 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.

Next steps with cloud storage

Buying cloud storage on behalf of a smaller company? Learn how to choose the best cloud storage for small business, 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.

With contributions from