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Scenario: A small business wants to share files securely with its clients. Some of the files are typical (e.g. word processing or spreadsheet docs), whereas some files may be large (e.g. database backups or video clips).

The small business clients are not necessarily technically inclined, and probably wouldn't be able to cope with SFTP/FTPS/PGP etc. or anything complicated or requiring software on their end, other than a web browser.

Specific features of interest are:

  • Secure
  • Reliable
  • Web-based
  • Ability to manage logins and access controls by client
  • Branded to look like small business; e.g. business logo and/or sub-domain
  • Relatively low-cost; e.g. $NN/month or $NNN/month but not $NNNN/month :-)
  • Did I mention secure?

So, what hosted services are available? Please also mention where they are hosted.

Your votes and opinions are also of interest, so if you already see your choice here and/or have something to say about it, please vote or comment accordingly.

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6 Answers 6

Have you ever thinking about MS SharePoint ?

sharepointhosting is one of possible providers where you may host your solution, but you may google for SharePoint hosting and find a lot of other choices.

Also, in the past we used CentralDesktop and BaseCamp. Both tools allow share files but both are not only file-sharing tools. They are project-based collaboration tools so you can share tasks, calendars, have dashboards and much more...

I will also recomend you to separate backup storage and file sharing systems. They will have different load and you will be able to find more optimal prices if you will take different systems. For backup storage I would recommend you to look for solutions that use cloud services, like Amazon S3 They have lower price for storage.

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Here is a link to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed File Transfer 2008. This is a nice overview of the leaders in this field.

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I've been curious about this as well - in my searches right now I found LeapFILE, which seems to hit all your points. [And my points as well!]

Going to check them out so I do not have any personal experience but this seems like a good answer.

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Consider File-Works. They have some customization options where you can add your logo to the login page.

Here's the File-Works FAQ showing their features.

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You should clarify your question with regards to the client requirements, sounds likely to be Windows or possibly Mac OS but nothing like UNIX?

Anyhow, the fact that they "probably wouldn't be able to cope with SFTP/FTPS/PGP etc. or anything complicated or requiring software on their end, other than a web browser" really limits your options here. What about the small business doing the sharing, are they more technically inclined? (Or are you doing this for them?)

There are other simple file sharing systems which are pretty intuitive and work quite well but require software such as Dropbox, SugarSync and others). However, I think these will fall short on the logins/access control requirement you've stated.

On the software free side of things, I would also recommend looking into drop.io but again, I think this will fall short on the logins/access control requirement you've stated.

But I think that you will most likely need a fancier system/setup given your access control requirements. To that end, I have two suggestions:

  1. I would suggest Web DAV over HTTPS (for which there are plenty of providers, I used BlueHost and have played with their Web DAV setup) but Windows can make it really painful to use at times, and it occasionally requires registry tweaking.
  2. Take a look at ftptoday which seems to have a browser based FTP client (which can be encrypted I believe).

Good luck.

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Thanks. FWIW, the small business isn't technically savvy either, but assume they do understand basic security concepts like access controls. Web-based administration is desirable. Clients could be on Windows or Mac. –  Chris W. Rea Jun 23 '09 at 13:34

The US based Ibackup offer seems to fully meet your requirements. You can also have a look at Dropbox, while they do not have a corporate type of account, it is possible to share files with other dropbox users.

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