At a few of my past (and current) jobs it’s been necessary to send large photos and videos back and forth on Dropbox, and my attempts to request photos often got lost in the shuffle. Not to mention there were a few unfortunate Dropbox deleting accidents, which effectively wiped out entire folders. If only there was an app that was super simple to send, receive and store files and didn’t require clients and the occasional contributors to log in. Oh, and it would be nice to be able to have accurate data about all of those files, like when and who added to the folders and downloaded files. If only, right? Well, as luck would have it, ShareFile is on the horizon and it’s going to make life easier.
Find out how after the jump.
Okay, setting up this app isn’t as simple as downloading, punching in a user name and password and firing her up. Instead, you need to go to ShareFile’s website and answer a few questions (it’s painless, I promise) and create a custom ShareFile web address for your business. You can receive a 30-day-free trial and there are four tiers of account levels to choose from.
And because this app has a sizable website component, I’m going to focus strictly on the app side, but suffice it to say that ShareFile is similar to a more secure version of Dropbox with better customer service (as soon as I signed up I received an email from my assigned representative.)
Once you have set yourself up on the website, getting started on the app is supremely easy. All you need to do is type in your username and password and you are in.
When you first launch the app, your main screen is going to look pretty barren. It will feature your FileBox (a temporary storage bin where files have a lifespan of 30 days), your empty Favorite Folders and a glaring note, “You have 0 root folders.”
At the bottom of the screen the only icon that will be tappable is the add folder icon. When you tap this, a new screen will pop up allowing you to add a folder title and a details box (you have 4000 characters to make notes.) Once you create a new folder, you can go into it and the other options at the bottom of the screen will become available. One of the options is the ability to Send the Folder Link. This is great because you can send it to someone who doesn’t have a ShareFile account. There are a few particulars that you can check as well: you can have ShareFile send you a copy of the email, they can notify you after any files in that folder have been downloaded and you can require the recipient(s) to sign in in order to download files. You can also manage how long the link is active for, the options range from never to one day.
Alright, so that covers how you can send a link to one of your folders, but you actually need something in your folder to send to warrant sending it, right? This is where ShareFile is super handy. It is extremely easy to upload files right from your iPad.
All you need to do is tap the file upload button and you can pull photos from your Camera Roll, Take a Photo, Record a Video, Request Files or Create a Note. You are limited to uploading files that are up to 10GB, but I would say that’s a pretty decent size.
When you choose to upload a file you are given the option to change the file name, add a note, choose a destination folder (if different than the folder you are currently in) and overwrite an existing file with the same name. If you are uploading multiple files at once, you can add a tag to the file name to help you differentiate it. As you upload multiple files or if you are adding a particularly large file, a badge (with the number of downloads on it) will overlay your list icon in the top right hand corner of your screen. If you click on it, it will pull up a list of all pending transfers.
When you are viewing files in your folders, if it is an image, you can view a thumbnail of the photo, but if it is a movie file you need to download it before you can view it. Once in the folder you can swipe to the left or to the right to reveal options for the file, or you can tap the file to open it in a new screen. Four options are available for your files: you can send it, download it (you need to download it if you are going to view it in offline mode), view the file’s info and delete it. Once you download the file, you will be able to view it in full-resolution and you will be able to zoom-in. The downloaded files will also have a green bar next to their name in the Folder view to denote that it has already been downloaded. The options available for sending a link to the file are the same as sending a link for a folder.
You can invite users and non-users alike to add files to your folders by requesting them. This is a great feature because it’s not forcing the person you are requesting files from to sign up with ShareFile.
Another great feature is that you can adjust the permission settings for folders, which is handy if you have some sensitive material.
And there is an option to switch between users, so if you have two businesses that are using ShareFile, you can easily switch between both user accounts.
Search is pretty comprehensive as well, as the app will comb through all descriptions and file names to pull up everything that includes your search term.
The app in and of itself is pretty simple and fairly efficient. There are just a few oddities that I hope will be changed in an upcoming version. The main functionality that seems to be missing is the ability to move files from one folder to another on the app. You can definitely move files on the website, but if you accidentally add the wrong file to the folder you had intended in the app, you need to go back to the website to fix it or you can delete and re-upload in the app.
Another particular functionality that is missing is that when you upload photos their orientation in thumbnail view won’t always be preserved, which is kind of annoying. Once you download it, the orientation will be corrected, so I guess it’s a small thing, but annoying nonetheless. There is also the Favorites section on the app, but again you can only add or delete favorite folders on the website. And finally, you can’t move temporary files from your FileBox to the correct folder on the app. Boo.
iPhone vs. iPad
The main functionalities are almost identical between the two devices, and the only real difference is the obvious inherent size of the iPad vs. the iPhone and the ability to view a file while still keeping the file’s parent Folder open (on the iPad.) You can also use ShareFile in both landscape and portrait mode on the iPad versus just portrait mode on the iPhone.
Overall, I think ShareFile is extremely useful and I would have loved to have had it at some of my past jobs. And while I don’t think the design is very, well, pretty, I do think it’s pretty simple to use. There are some missing functionalities (soon to be added, I hope), but the ability to send, share and request files is really great, especially when those files can be up to 10GB. I’m definitely interested to see how this app progresses.