Citrix ShareFile Review
If keeping track of users is your main criteria when selecting an EFSS, look no further than Citrix ShareFile.
Citrix is a company that specializes in business-to-business remote data management, and this legacy is obvious when you take a look at its EFSS solution, ShareFile. It has some of the best user management features we’ve yet to see among best EFSS providers and ranks well in all other areas, too.
However, ShareFile doesn’t have nearly as many third-party integrations as some of the competition, though the cupboard isn’t exactly bare, either. The web experience is a bit less intuitive than other tools, but shouldn’t provide any major hurdles for most users.
Where else does ShareFile hit and miss and is it the best cloud storage solution for your business? Keep reading as we walk you through its basic capabilities and costs, before taking a deep dive into its sync, sharing, security and support features.
- Unlimited storage plan
- Great application integrations
- Office Online & Google Docs
- Strong security
- No block-level sync
- No annual discount
- 5GB file upload max
- Fast block-level sync
- Secure file sharing
- Office Online/Google Docs integration
- No Linux support
- Excellent user management
- Excellent reporting tools
- Selective sync
- Workflow management
- Strong security
- Good application integrations
- No block-level sync
- A little expensive
- Slow ticket responses
- Can’t password-protect links
ShareFile offers a nice range of features that will both boost your business’s productivity and keep your confidential data and intellectual property secure. The table below covers the basics, many of which we’ll hit on in more detail later in this review.
ShareFile has two different subscription plans for SMBs, Team and Business. Both require purchase of at least five licenses. That’s more than what many competing EFSS solutions require, including Box and Dropbox, and you pay just as much per user per month.
ShareFile does offer a 20 percent discount for signing up annually, though.
1-year plan $ 12.00 / month
$144.00 billed every year
Save 20 %
1-year plan $ 20.00 / month
$240.00 billed every year
Save 20 %
On the plus side, with ShareFile you get a nice discount after the first five users. Each additional Team plan users costs just 6.81€, while Business plan users cost 8.52€.
ShareFile Team doesn’t have the user management controls that the Business plan has, which happens to be one of the key features setting ShareFile apart from other EFSS tools. It also doesn’t include features like device security, email encryption and folder invites.
If you want to make sure ShareFile fits as an EFSS solution for your business, an unrestricted 30-day trial is offered at Citrix ShareFile. You don’t even have to give up your credit card digits.
ShareFile content can be accessed from a desktop folder, desktop app, web browser or mobile device. Desktop clients are available for Windows and MacOS. There is no Linux client support, so Team Penguin will need to look elsewhere.
Client download creates a special folder within your desktop file system called a “sync folder,” which is an ordinary looking folder but feeds into your cloud-storage space. We’ll talk more about how well ShareFile performs sync a bit later.
The ShareFile client includes a separate, complete user interface to access your content.
This interface is a bit of an oddity in the EFSS space. Most cloud storage providers only offer a sync folder and taskbar icon to manage basic sync settings, making you do everything else from a browser-based application. You can use it or not.
The browser interface is another option, and lets you access content from any computer without having to install a desktop client. The web experience isn’t hard to navigate, but at the same time doesn’t have the same minimalist feel as more user-friendly services like Dropbox and Box.
The ShareFile dashboard shows you recently accessed files and gives you quick access to key actions (share, request, create user) and important folders.
Go to your “personal folders” to view all content stored on your account. Each user in your account will have their own folder.
If away from your computer, you can also access files from your smartphone or tablet. Apps are available for Android and iOS. Like the browser interface, the mobile app has a dashboard to access recent content and links for both personal and shared folders.
The mobile app doesn’t have many user downloads (100,000 for Android) but that’s not a reflection of the experience. The design simple and lets you upload content from your phone to the cloud, too.
With ShareFile, assignment of user licenses and similar admin activity takes place from a few different tabs located under the “people” and “settings” menu options along the left side of the browser.
Navigation is a bit muddled compared to Dropbox and Box, both of which put everything into a dedicated admin console. However, most business users shouldn’t have any real trouble getting things sorted.
From the “manage users home” tab under “people,” you can create both “employee” and “client” accounts. Client accounts are an easy way to share with others without burning a license. These users won’t have storage space and can’t be granted certain admin privileges, but they can collaborate on content.
Employee accounts offer many more customization options. In addition to restricting how much storage space the employee can use in a given month, you can assign privileges.
We’ve yet to test another EFSS tool with the degree of user customization that ShareFile offers. Options include everything from letting users edit distribution groups to having the ability to change their password.
For more control, you can monitor account activity by generating reports for usage, access, messages and bandwidth. An impressive array of customization options are available for each type of report so you can tailor them precisely to your needs.
If you run a larger businesses with multiple collaborators, you’ll want to make sure your EFSS tool lets you create groups, which ShareFile does. Groups let you to assign multiple collaborators to a folder at once, cutting down time consumed by administrative tasks.
You can set up shared folders for your users from within the shared folders page.
One useful feature that ShareFile offers that many other services don’t is the ability to create folders based on templates. Templates let you automatically grant folder access to certain user groups and configure folders with specific permissions. Permissions include download, upload, delete and admin access.
Alternatively, you can right click on any folder to add collaborators. True to its name, ShareFile also lets you share files. Right click any file and select either “email with ShareFile” or “get a link.”
Email lets you grant access to specific people, while links can be accessed by anybody. In either case, you can limit how many times people can access your file and set access to expire after a certain amount of time. When emailing file access, there’s also an option to encrypt your email, which is a nice touch.
There are also some nice options for notifications when your shared files are accessed. However, like many cloud storage services, ShareFile doesn’t let you password protect links. That means anybody who gets access to your link can access your content.
There’s another share option called “initiate approval” that functions as a workflow mechanism. With this share feature, you can do one of two things:
- Get approval: collaborators can approve, reject and request alterations
- Collect feedback: collaborators can comment on a document
With either option, you can also assign a due date to let your collaborators know they’re on a deadline.
Finally, ShareFile has a file checkout option that lets you tell other users that you’re working on a file. This prevents cross-ups in collaborations and is something most other cloud-storage tools don’t offer.
Sync, short for “device syncing,” is the glue of cloud storage. It allows you to hop from one device to another and collaborate in near real-time on files with others without having to manage file uploads and downloads yourself. This feature, as mentioned earlier, requires download of a desktop client.
Once installed, you can access stored files from a handy desktop folder.
By default, files kept in your sync folder are stored both on your hard drive and in the cloud. By keeping files on your hard drive, too, you can access them while offline.
However, storing files both in the cloud and on the computer can be an issue if you have limited hard drive space. If that includes you, you’ll be happy to know that ShareFile incorporates a space-saving feature called “selective sync.”
Selective sync lets you turn sync off for specific folders so that contents in that folder won’t be stored on your hard drive. Quickly manage selective sync by clicking the ShareFile taskbar icon on your desktop and selecting “preferences” to choose which folders you want synced.
The downside to syncing with ShareFile is a big one, though it’s not the only EFSS provider that misses out on it, in that it does not use block-level sync.
With block-level sync, only the changed parts of files get uploaded and downloaded. Without it, every time a change is made to a file, the entire file gets copied all over. This causes sync with ShareFile to run much slowly than with services that do use block-level transfers, which include Dropbox and Egnyte.
ShareFile offers a selection of both native and third-party apps that integrate directly with your cloud-storage space. Such tools can enhance communication, productivity and security. ShareFile offers business users several downloadable tools to make life easier. These include:
- An Outlook plugin to quickly share large files with contacts
- A drive mapper to turn ShareFile into a network drive (not synced)
- A tool that lets you send scanned files directly to ShareFile
- A print command that creates PDFs and sends them to ShareFile
ShareFile does not have any native productivity tools. That said, Citrix has done a decent job building partnerships with other services, so that shouldn’t be too big a concern.
At the top of the list of ShareFile’s third-party integrations is Microsoft Office 365. While you can use Office Online for free, to edit and collaborate on documents in real-time from within the ShareFile ecosystem, you’ll need to purchase an Office 365 subscription for your business.
Aside from Office 365, ShareFile offers several third-party choices that SMB owners will approve of, such as Zapier, Basepin, Orion, eFileCabinet and Applied, though fewer than with Dropbox or Box.
When you send files to the ShareFile cloud, they’re kept in hardened datacenters designed to withstand natural disasters, physical attacks and virtual attacks.
On the ShareFile servers, your data is encrypted using 256-bit AES, which is the encryption protocol suggested by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Known as at-rest encryption, scrambling files server-side lessens the impact of data breaches, since those who gain access to your files won’t be able to read them without also knowing the encryption keys for those files, which are kept on a separate server.
Files are encrypted before being sent to ShareFile storage, each with its own unique encryption key. File transfers also use TLS protocol, short for “transport layer security.” Such measures prevent anyone who might capture your while in transit, say from a man-in-the-middle attack, from reading it, too.
Hardened datacenters, at-rest and in-transit encryption are all commonplace with EFSS solutions today. One security feature you don’t see often offered by most EFSS solutions that ShareFile provides is custom password requirements. This is a nice touch, because while 256-bit encryption keys might be impossible to crack, weak passwords are not.
Custom requirements give you a bit of added insurance that your employees aren’t setting up easily-guessed passwords.
ShareFile also lets you customize your login policy, including locking out users after a set number of failed login attempts and requiring two-factor authentication.
With two-factor authentication turned on, your employee and client users will have to enter a special security code in addition to their usual username and password when logging into ShareFile from an unfamiliar computer.
This code, sent to the individual’s mobile phone, reduces the risk of password hacks leading to data theft.
A final security feature of note is that ShareFile lets you remotely wipe devices. With this feature, you can cut sync off for any user device, preventing anyone from accessing cloud content from a stolen device.
Missing from ShareFile security is something called, “device pinning.” Device pinning lets you restrict how many devices a given user can install ShareFile on, which in turn lets you decrease the risk of unauthorized people accessing your content.
ShareFile also doesn’t offer client-side encryption and doesn’t integrate with any third-party encryption tools like Boxcryptor.
Help can be found on ShareFile’s support page. There, you’ll find both basic how-to articles and webinars to get you started. You can also feed the support page a specific question, which is then used to find related articles.
Most of the content we reviewed keeps things simple and uses plenty of screenshots, which should appeal to businesses that need to get up and running fast.
If you can’t find what you need, ShareFile also has a user forum and direct support.
The user forum is an option we always like to see, since it provides an opportunity to get ideas for navigating obstacles from a broader audience. Unfortunately, the ShareFile community doesn’t seem very active, with user questions often going unanswered for days or weeks.
To get help directly from ShareFile technical support, you can submit a ticket or give them a call.
Ticket response time is slow for SMBs and there’s no option to upgrade to premium customer service like there for enterprise accounts. According to ShareFile, responses typically come between 24 and 72 hours but can take longer if the queue is backed up.
If you need immediate help, you can give ShareFile a call. During a test call, we were able to get in contact with someone within fifteen minutes. We’d have liked to see a callback option instead like that offered by Box so we didn’t have to wait on hold at all.
Live chat is available too, but only during U.S. business hours and only for sales inquiries.
While priced similarly, ShareFile probably isn’t going preferred by most SMBs over top services like Dropbox or Box for two reasons.
First, the user experience isn’t as streamlined. While that will only present a minor hurdle for some, others will find it interferes with their collaborations.
More important is the second reason: ShareFile doesn’t have as many third-party integrations. True, the handful that it does have are more than many EFSS solutions. However, it’s still only a fraction of what you can get with Dropbox, Box, OneDrive and Google Drive.
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For some users, though, particularly those with very stringent compliance demands such as those working in law, finance or medicine, ShareFile might be the better solution. The reason for that is terrific customization options for user permissions and security, great reporting features and nice workflow capabilities like document approval and checkout.
Overall, we were please with what we uncovered with ShareFile. While it certainly has a good deal of room to grow, it already works well as a niche EFSS solution. Our conclusion: check it out. With a 30-day free trial, you’ve got nothing to lose.
That’s all we’ve got: thanks for reading and please let us know your own thoughts regarding ShareFile in the comments below.