Services such as Box.net, Dropbox and 4Shared and have been introduced over the last several years and are replacing FTP as a method for file sharing while adding additional features that were not possible before. Instead of having to build and maintain a filesharing and collaboration platform in-house, these services are relatively inexpensive and paid for on a monthly basis at a rate which depends on the number of users and the storage needed. Google Docs also offers some of the functionality of the first 3, so I will discuss it briefly, too.
After signing up for a Box.net account (or 14-day trial), the Box.net application is installed and integrated with the Windows filesystem. The Box.net folder appears inside My Documents. Dragging files and folders into this folder makes them available online through your Box.net account and also on other computers on which you install the Box.net application. Files are also available and can be manipulated through the web interface. Pricing is $15 per month per user with a 3-user minimum with 500GB of storage. Upload and download speed is faster than Dropbox. Box.net is good for multi-user environments and for those without a Mac.
Dropbox (dropbox.com) is similar to Box.net but it has fewer additional features available online. However, it integrates with Mac as well as PC. A free trial is available with 2GB of space and paid accounts are $15 per month for 50GB of storage with no mimimum of users. Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad and Blackberry. I see many people and companies using this service right now and most of them are happy with it.
4Shared (www.4shared.com ) allows people to upload their documents into an online workspace in which they can create files and folders. It it then possible to create and send links to one or more file and folder for sharing with others, whether they have an account. A limited version is free, while the Premium version with 100GB storage costs about $10 a month (or less with a 3 month subscription or more). There is a use for 4shared, as long as it is not necessary to have an integrated document repository with My Documents.
I’ve mentioned Google Docs (docs.google.com) before. Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet , slideshow , form, and data storage service offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Data storage of any files up to 1GB each in size was introduced last year. Multiple file upload is possible from the Chrome browser or by installing a browser applet. If you are considering Google Docs or already using it, it makes sense to try the file storage and sharing capability within before testing any other filesharing product.