Dropbox has long been one of the best file-sharing services for both personal and business use. However, newer users may not realize all of the sharing options and security features it provides. We have a beginner’s guide on how to use Dropbox, but in this article, we’ll go through how to share files on Dropbox and keep your sensitive data private in the process.
Although there are other providers, Dropbox for Business is the best cloud storage to share many files within a group. The service allows multiple users to simultaneously view and edit file content, it has high upload speeds and it’s compatible with services like Microsoft Office. There’s even a mobile app for file-sharing on the go.
However, when you share files and folders, you should do it securely. Dropbox already has some strong security features, but the best way to protect your data from any potential leaks is with zero-knowledge encryption. Although Dropbox doesn’t offer this itself, there are providers like Boxcryptor, which are made to work with the service.
How to Share Files on Dropbox
Dropbox lets you request and share files with any other user, and you can even allow recipients to comment or make edits. This can be done on Dropbox.com or through the desktop UI, as long as you can access your account and know the email address you’re sending the file or folder to.
To share a file with another Dropbox account, it needs to have enough storage space left. If you want someone to download and view the file but they don’t have enough storage available in their Dropbox account, you’ll need to use Dropbox Transfer to give them a copy.
The recipients will now get an email with the message and a link to access the file. It will also automatically appear in their Dropbox accounts.
How to Share a Dropbox Folder
If you want to share a group of files, you should share them within a folder. This’ll let you control the permissions for all files at once without missing any by accident. However, you won’t have as many options for protecting the access links or hiding individual files.
Shared folders can also be useful for a business, as it lets you give each individual access to set folders depending on which files are related to their work. You can also see who made certain changes and rewind a shared folder if something goes wrong.
How to Share Files Through Dropbox Transfer
Dropbox Transfer is a service that lets you share files and folders with someone who doesn’t have a Dropbox account. You can send up to 100MB of data in a single transfer on the basic plan, which increases to 2GB and 100GB on the Standard and Advanced paid plans, respectively. There’s also no limit on the number or types of files that you can send.
This isn’t an ideal solution for working on a collaborative project with ongoing edits, as it sends the recipient their own copy of the file or folder. However, you can still add a password and change the expiration date with the Professional plan, giving an extra layer of protection.
How to Share Files in Dropbox Securely
Dropbox has a wealth of features that make it great for sharing files and folders. However, it lacks the zero-knowledge encryption that the most secure cloud storage services use. Its U.S. headquarters doesn’t help ease any cloud privacy concerns, either, and there have been issues in the past.
Although some people are willing to give up privacy for a fast and easy-to-use service, it isn’t hard to protect your data if you know how to do it. Dropbox even has some security measures available, like the permissions system, which can limit what people can see or add a password to the file.
However, if you want to protect a file or folder from criminals and governments, you’re going to have to encrypt it so only you have access. A service like Boxcryptor will obscure your files from anyone — even from Dropbox — unless you give them the decryption key. This will make sharing files harder, but it’s often worth it for the extra privacy.
How to Set Permissions
The people with the most power to damage a file or folder are those you share it with. Because anyone with a computer and the right link can view or edit your files, there’s a big risk that you could lose your data without realizing it.
To prevent this, you can use the built-in permissions to limit the actions of any user. By keeping an eye on who can view or edit the content and removing unknown email addresses, you can help avoid data loss and theft. There’s also better protections — like watermarks and file passwords — on the Professional plan.
How to Use Boxcryptor
Although the permissions system is a good start, if you want full control over who has access to your personal data, you need to encrypt it. Boxcryptor is one of our favorite zero-knowledge encryption services, and it’s easy to use it with cloud storage, even when sharing files through Dropbox.
You can even use Boxcryptor with Dropbox Business for larger projects. This is because Boxcryptor has “business groups” where you can give each person specific permissions to view, copy or change the file content.
However, there are drawbacks to zero-knowledge encryption, which is why Dropbox doesn’t use it. Encrypted documents can’t use block-level file copying to increase upload speeds, and you can’t edit or comment on these documents as easily. However, for sensitive data, it’s often worth the minor inconvenience.
- Download Boxcryptor
To get Boxcryptor, go to its website and download it. You’ll also need a free account, which you can get online or in the desktop application.
- Open the Boxcryptor folder
After the installation, there will be a new “Boxcryptor” folder on your computer. This will automatically contain any cloud storage folders, including Dropbox.
- Encrypt your file
To encrypt a file, enter your Dropbox folder through Boxcryptor, right-click on the file, open the “Boxcryptor” dropdown and select “encrypt.”
- Manage Boxcryptors permissions
Now you can go back into the “Boxcryptor” dropdown menu and select “manage permissions.” The new window it opens will allow you to give file access to other people. Enter the email addresses for their Boxcryptor accounts, select “OK,” then share the file through Dropbox as usual.
- Use Whisply for sharing files
If the recipient doesn’t have Boxcryptor, you’ll need to go into the “Boxcryptor” dropdown menu and select “create Whisply link.” This gives the ability to decrypt the file to the individual you’re sharing with. You can even add an expiration date, password and download limits to the link to help protect it from cybercriminals.
File sharing in Dropbox is made easy, even on the free plan. You can send requests, use either a shared link or an email to add individual people, and send large files to anyone through Dropbox Transfer. The optional permissions also allow you to control your data and keep it safe when sharing files and folders.
However, even though Dropbox does a decent job of keeping your files safe, it isn’t a zero-knowledge encryption service. To obscure your personal data from prying eyes, use encryption software like Boxcryptor before sharing anything.
Although Dropbox and Boxcryptor are great programs that work well together for sharing in the cloud, you may decide to try an alternative. There are many other encryption programs and cloud storage services that will let you share any file or folder while keeping your data safe.
Have you used Dropbox to share files and folders? What did you think of our step-by-step instructions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.
- With the “share” feature, any other Dropbox user can send you a file to view or edit. You can receive these as long as there is space to upload files to your account. There is also a “request” feature, which allows you to ask someone to share a document with you.
- Dropbox makes it easy to share files and work with others. It also has good ways to limit unwanted edits, revert to previous file versions and request access to documents. Although it isn’t the only way to share data, it’s definitely one of the best for both personal and business use.