Finding the best file hosting service is very important if you want to keep your valuable data safe.
Although we’ve seen great advances in computing power, the amount of storage space offered with consumer laptops have actually decreased on average.
Internal computer drives are now faster than ever and physically smaller than in years past. However, the latest solid-state drives (SSD) in middle of the range laptops now typically have a capacity of around 256GB compared to the slower but larger 1TB hard disk drives (HDD) you would’ve found as standard a few years ago.
Low-cost Chromebooks and Cloudbooks have taken things to even greater extremes, with 32GB of internal storage a common occurrence.
Much of this downsizing of local storage space has been made possible by the concept of cloud computing. Since many applications now run via the cloud, in Software as a Service model (SaaS), there’s no need to install software locally on the computer.
The same is true for file storage. Since people are working from their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and work computers the need to store files in a central location is paramount. With cloud computing and online file hosting offering secure and robust platforms for data storage, there is less of a need to store files locally.
However, not all file hosting is equal. This guide will help you find the best file hosting provider whether you have business requirements or you need online storage for your personal files.
What is File Hosting
A file hosting service may go by many different names. Some refer to them as cloud storage, online file storage or even cyberlockers. However, when it comes down to it, they all provide a similar service.
This type of hosting allows a user to upload their files to a server dedicated to file storage. They can then access these files from any device. File transfers usually take place through an app, a web interface or via file transfer protocol (FTP).
The best file hosting services rely on servers built specifically to host different file types. This means they:
- Have plenty of storage space
- Have powerful CPUs to handle multiple requests
- Are well-maintained to avoid crashes and outages
- Address issues that may lead to data breaches
- Understand how to properly secure their data against attacks
Actually, many people have experience with file hosting. They may just not have realized it yet. If you have ever used services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud or Amazon Drive then you have used a very simple file hosting service.
These services are attractive to many consumer-level users and even some small businesses because they are easy to use. However, they are not the only players out there. In fact, some would argue that they are not even among the best file hosting services because they are more commercialized.
Who is File Hosting For?
Just about anyone who uses a computer nowadays will benefit from the best file hosting providers.
1. Those who need more storage space
For personal computer users, also called consumer users, file hosting allows them to do a number of things. To begin with, it solves the storage problem they may run in to with modern computers and mobile devices.
2. Easy sharing of files and photos
File hosting also allows them to share files with other family members or friends. Users have the ability to upload pictures, movies, music, and even documents to share with anyone who they grant permission.
3. Better file organization
Business users also make use of file hosting services as it makes it easy to store electronic documents. The best file hosting services allow for tagging and better organization of these files. Previous versions of files are kept making it easy to track changes to documents.
4. Easier collaboration
Collaboration is also a big trend in the business world nowadays. File hosting makes it easier to share files with co-workers since they are stored in a central location. The best file hosting providers even include features that allow you to check out and check in files so work is not duplicated.
Pros of File Hosting
File hosting provides both the home user and the business user with many different benefits. Some of which we have covered already in this guide. However, digging deeper reveals more advantages to using file hosting over local file storage.
1. Save physical space
To begin with, digitizing files and records to store with a file hosting provider not only makes searching for files easier, but it helps save space. Instead of stacks of paper or rows of file cabinets, files are neatly organized on the file server.
2. Manage access
Another benefit that comes with the best file hosting providers helps businesses more than consumers. This is the ability to integrate with Identity and Access Management solutions. Using these tools, you have the ability to set permissions for files and folders stored online. Microsoft’s OneDrive is a perfect example. This helps tremendously when it comes to security and auditing purposes.
3. Storage integrations
Home users and small businesses also have the ability to set permissions, however, they likely won’t be relying on third-party solutions to do so. Instead, they will use the permission management offered by the hosting provider.
4. Support for remote access
Another benefit for business users is that file hosting allows more flexibility for a mobile workforce. Since files are stored online, a user has the ability to access their work from any device with the right permissions. Depending on the type of file, you can even set additional security parameters to further protect sensitive documents.
5. Safe storage of file histories
Finally, both types of users will benefit from the ability to back up files to a file hosting provider. In an age where Ransomware attacks threaten just about anyone who uses a computer, having a safe and reliable backup strategy is the only way to defeat this type of attack.
Cons of File Hosting
You may wonder what the drawbacks to a service of this caliber could actually be. Well, like anything there are some areas that may cause concern.
Security is always the number one concern. When you move your files off-premises, you are trusting them to a third-party. If that hosting provider suffers from a data breach, your files may wind up exposed.
Even the best file hosting providers are at risk. One day Dropbox itself suffered a massive breach that exposed the accounts of over 68 million users.
Finally, there is the trust issue. That is, do you trust your file hosting provider to be in business for the foreseeable future? There are many different file hosting providers out there. Some offer inexpensive plans and additional services to entice you to sign up.
However, if their business plan is not solid and they shut down where does that leave you?
Things to Look for When Choosing a File Host
Earlier, we said that not all file hosting providers are equal. When choosing the best file hosting provider, you have to really consider what your needs are.
If you are a home user or a smaller business, you are going to look for two important things.
First of all, you are going to want to consider the cost. Many of the big services like Google and Amazon offer free accounts to get you started. However, not everyone wants to get locked into one of these ecosystems.
There are other services out there that provide low cost and free entry-level file hosting. However, this is generally for low amounts of storage. If you exceed these limits you will need to upgrade to a paid account.
2. Apps and device support
The best file hosting services should work with all the major smartphones and computer operating systems. However, some services can work better with some platforms than others. So if you use a Windows laptop and a smartphone running Android, then check any prospective file hosts fully support those devices.
Also, a recent development is the world of cloud hosting is portable hard drives that can upload files to the cloud. Amazon and Seagate offer a drive that does just this, aiming to keep your files twice as safe.
What to Pay Attention to When Choosing a File Host
When looking for the best file hosting available you are going to want to pay close attention to your needs to see if the provider can meet them.
1. File management
A large business will likely need larger amounts of storage space than an individual. Businesses will also need the capability to segment files into folders organized by individual users and/or departments.
2. Backup capabilities
Another thing you need to pay attention to is the ability to back up files to your file hosting platform. Any file hosting plan you choose should work with your backup and recovery solution seamlessly for ease of use. If it’s difficult, users won’t back up their files on a regular basis.
You should also ensure that the file hosting provider you choose is able to offer any other features or services you require. For example, you might want an easy way to share folders or photos with others.
You may also need access to multiple previous versions of files, the ability to sync files in multiple directions across many devices, or the option of requesting a physical drive with the files on should you need to recover lost data. Embedding your hosted files in websites and other online properties might be one of your requirements as well.
Support is another area to pay attention to. There may come a time when you need help with your file hosting and you want to make sure that you can count on someone to help you when you need it.
5. Service Limitations
Finally, watch for services that offer file hosting, but really only allow you to upload a few files to share via a link. While these providers offer a necessary service, they are not the same as the file hosting as discussed in this article.
File hosting providers have become a necessity as more people and businesses turn to the cloud for both applications and storage needs. Choosing the best file hosting provider is one way to make the process of sharing and storing files much easier.
Identify your needs before you start looking. When you know exactly what your requirements are, you’ll be more likely to find the right partner for you.