Another day, another file sharing app, or so it seems. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to services for sending files big and small over the web, and while it may seem like overkill, the truth is that today’s users are diverse in their usage habits and requirements, and a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work in this context. So who is Shared good for?
Shared doesn’t bother with apps for multiple platforms or syncing files across devices: instead, it offers a cheap, easy-to-use web-based file sharing solution that works on desktops and mobile devices and is perfect for novice users and advanced file sharers who are tired of bloated apps with features they don’t use. Plus, you can get started with 100GB of space for free! Sound too good to be true? Let’s send some files across the interwebs and see if Shared is indeed all it’s cracked up to be.
Shared is a new web-based file sharing and storage app that offers 100GB of space for free, and has paid plans if you need more room. Unlike many other apps such as Dropbox, it’s not built for syncing files from your desktop, but rather for getting your files to your recipients as quickly as possible — therefore putting on the same playing field as Hightail, Mediafire and others.
Merely signing up for Shared scores you 100GB of space to stash your files, and you’re allowed uploads of up to 2GB per file, but no support for hotlinking or direct download links. However, you can get those features and bump up the file size to 5GB for $9.95/month with a 1TB account, or get unlimited space and 10GB uploads for $24.95/month. Plus, there’s an affiliate program that scores you 30% of each sale, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Shared sports a squeaky-clean interface with minimal graphics, making the app lightning-fast whether you’re on a desktop or mobile browser. You can drag and drop files to upload them, add more files during an upload and then grab all the links to share files at once if you like. Once your files are in your Shared account, you can organize them into folders for easy sharing. While it aids performance, some might find the interface too sparse — I actually didn’t realize my folders were on the left menu and wondered where my freshly-organized files had gone for a second.
As with other similar apps, sharing with Shared is a breeze — simply copy the links and paste in emails or IM, or use the included social sharing tools to broadcast your links on your preferred social networks. With the free plan, you’ll get a link to a page with the downloadable file preview, which, at the time of writing, isn’t yet riddled with ugly ads. Plus, these download pages competently display previews of images and PDFs, and allow for streaming of audio and video files too.
While this is all well and good, I prefer WeTransfer’s fire-and-forget method for sending files (queue up files, add recipients’ email addresses, and hit Upload; receive email notifications when the upload is complete and when the file is downloaded). With so many apps out there, you’d think that you’d have more control over the process of sharing by now — not everyone has the time to sit around and watch files head to the clouds before sending them across.
Shared took 12 min to upload 722MB on my 20mbps connection, which isn’t bad at all (speeds averaged 8mbps with a maximum speed of ~12mbps). It took a little while to finalize and display larger video files, which meant that I’d have to wait indefinitely, longer than the indicated time, to interact with my files. Now, while I may not frequently live out those Hollywood moments where I need to upload files before the bad guys spot me in their server room, I don’t want to hang around uploading large files. It’d be great to see Shared either account for the time this process takes, or run it in the background so I can wrap up my uploads as quickly as possible.
Downloads aren’t terribly quick if you’re on a free plan — speeds averaged around 300KBps on my connection, and a 700MB file took about 30 minutes to download. In fact, it’s faster than Dropbox and Mediafire, whose files download at an average of about 150-200KBps on my connection. Overall, Shared is pretty quick and consistent with its file transfers.
Shared vs. the competition
Let’s take a look at some numbers: Shared certainly offers better value than WeTransfer ($10/month for 50GB storage and 10GB files), and is closely comparable to Hightail (unlimited space for files up to 2GB at $15.99/mo and $24.99/mo for 10GB files). So far so good — but then Shared also has Mediafire to contend with: these veterans charge just $2.49/mo for 100GB and 20GB uploads. And over in New Zealand, Kim Dotcom’s MEGA service costs ~$13.75 for 500GB space with no file size restrictions. Plus, these apps (with the exception of WeTransfer) offer desktop and mobile apps for easy syncing and uploads.
So it really boils down to your specific needs: video pros often have to share HD files larger than 2GB and 5GB, while photographers might be okay with those file size limits. Meanwhile, small businesses might need more features such as password restriction and access control within company accounts. For most users though, Shared offers a great hassle-free service that they can avail of free, and grow into the paid plans over time.
If you’re not looking for a backup solution or don’t care to sync files across multiple computers and mobile devices, Shared might just be the minimalist file sharing app you’ve been looking for. With a solid free plan that should be enough for a while yet, and paid plans that offer real bang for your buck, this is a great choice if you’re just setting up a freelance or small business. I’d even recommend this to folks who just need a place to store a bunch of files for safekeeping/posterity at no charge. Happy file sharing!