I had a problem the other day when trying to send a large file by email. Actually, I didn’t think that the file wasn’t all that big – around 21mb – but Outlook didn’t like it at all. Now I know: Microsoft Outlook blocks attachments that exceed 20 megabytes (20480 KB). If your attachments exceed this limit, the error message “The attachment size exceeds the allowable limit” appears.

Citrix ShareFileI did some research and found a solution called ShareFile. It’s a Citrix-owned business so it should be pretty reliable (Citrix has annual sales of over $2.5 billion). I thought it said it could handle 10mb files so I didn’t immediately jump up and down with excitement. However, when I looked again, it said it could handle files up to 10GB – now that’s more like it.

Free Trial: Email Big Files with Confidence

ShareFileThe other thing that caught my eye is that the company offers a free trial and, important for me and probably you too, you don’t have to provide any credit card details.

With ShareFile, you can send files of any size to clients in just a few clicks – without the hassle of emails bouncing back. And, with encryption and password protection, your files are always secure.

ShareFile also offers a dedicated account manager upon signup – as well as telephone and same-day email support. Which means you can rest assured that you have access to the help you need. Plus, with ShareFile you get:

  • No software to install – it’s 100% web-based
  • Custom-branded web page with your company logo and colours
  • No more clogging your inbox with huge files
  • Tracking and alerts to confirm clients have received files
  • Extra features such as upload/download email notifications and detailed usage reports

The ShareFile system has many security and privacy measures in place to protect data. These security measures can be divided into four main categories: Software, Backups, Servers and Policies. To make it easy for you to read up on this, I’ve included some of what ShareFile say about these categories, below.

Software

The ShareFile software has been created with security in mind. Each user in the system has a unique login and password. All user-created passwords are hashed in the ShareFile database, meaning that not even ShareFile support personnel have the ability to determine a user’s password. Granular access permissions allow users to be given access to information on an account on a need-to-know basis.

ShareFile has a daily third party security scan through McAfee® SECURE.

All uploaded files are scanned by anti-virus software. Any files that are flagged as potential viruses are denoted with a red exclamation point icon within the application, and a warning will be displayed before attempting to download these files.

All communications between ShareFile and the user are encrypted using either Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security encryption protocols and up to AES 256-bit encryption. This is the same industry-standard protocol used by online banking and popular e-commerce services such as Amazon.com for secure communication over the internet.

All files are stored with 128-bit encryption.

Backups

ShareFile employs multiple backup measures to minimize data loss in the event of natural disaster, terrorism, fire or any other unexpected event that could result in the destruction of the hardware that hosts the service: (There is a data sheet for security, available here which details how ShareFile safeguards your data)

  • Disaster Recovery: Client files are backed up to ShareFile’s disaster recovery data centre every four hours. All client files are mirrored in real time to multiple storage zones. In the event of a failure in the primary storage zone, the secondary zone within that region is used automatically. In the event of a natural disaster or catastrophic hardware failure at the primary data centre that services an account, resources at the disaster recovery data centre can be brought online to minimize the disruption to the service.
  • Redundant File Storage: ShareFile maintains the capability to leverage alternate regions to store files if any one region is rendered unavailable. Additionally, ShareFile maintains a geographically separate backup and file recovery site that provides it the capability to recover a client files in case of accidental client-side file deletion.  All client files are backed up to their alternate site within four hours of initial upload time.
  • Lazy File Deletion: To protect against the accidental deletion of files, ShareFile maintains copies of all deleted files for 28 days total before permanently purging the files from the backup and file recovery centre. This helps protect clients from file loss due to user error. If a file is deleted in error, the file can be restored through ShareFile’s Recycle Bin feature.

Servers

Each of ShareFile’s data centres has attained third-party SSAE 16 Type II certification, which verifies all data centre facilities operate with strict security procedures. Physical access is strictly controlled at the perimeter and building entrance points, and access to each data centre is accessed with two-factor authorisation. In addition, ShareFile’s servers are protected by dedicated firewalls, which constantly scan for and protect against malicious threats. The firewalls provide zero-day protection against any traffic that does not conform to standard Internet protocols, behaviours or patterns.

Policies

ShareFile also has several corporate policies in place to help protect the security of data in the ShareFile system. All support functions are conducted by their own employees, and access is restricted by IP address so that support functions can only be performed from within the secure ShareFile physical office facilities.  In addition to hardware and software policies, ShareFile also maintains a business liability insurance policy to protect the company and its clients against any data loss.

How ShareFile Works

You can see how the ShareFile system works by clicking here.

Pricing

There are several pricing modules. I think most firms will go for the professional version at around £37 a month. For that, it covers up to 10 people in the firm and includes 10 GB of Storage/Bandwidth as well as:

  • Pricing plan boxUnlimited client users
  • Your own customised branding
  • Free telephone and email support
  • Encrypted transfer and storage
  • Outlook Plugin
  • Desktop Sync

Alternatives

Are there any alternatives to ShareFile? The answer is yes. Masses of them in fact. Here are two I came across:
Send This File and Dropsend

Other options:

  • Use a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Microsoft’s OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive).
  • Use something called a “cyberlocker” such as Rapidshare or MediaFire.
  • Send large files using a service such as Hightail (formerly YouSendIt) or WeTransfer.
  • Even host it in your own office using a Pogoplug “personal cloud”.

Conclusions  

My preference is still ShareFile, Sure, there are cheaper options, even free options but ShareFile just feels right for me.

ShareFile employs multiple backup measures to minimize data loss in the event of natural disaster, terrorism, fire or any other unexpected event that could result in the destruction of the hardware that hosts the service.

There is a data sheet for security, available here which details how ShareFile safeguards your data.

Martin Pollins

Martin Pollins

Managing Director at Bizezia
Martin Pollins is a Chartered Accountant with wide experience in corporate finance and business management. He holds a number of directorships and has served on the boards of several companies, including those listed on the London Stock Exchange, AIM and OFEX.

He was a Council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales from 1988 to 1996.

Martin Pollins ran his own firm based in Sussex and was the first Accountancy firm in the UK to advertise on television and Martin went on to create and launch the CharterGroup Partnership (the UK's first Accountancy network) and then LawGroup UK (one of the largest networks of lawyers in the country).

Martin started work on the Bizezia concept in 1996, developing the broad range of information resources and products over the past 18 years.
Martin Pollins
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