The cloud storage space is not an easy one to break into. Yet every so often we see a scrappy newcomer try to make its mark on the industry with lofty promises of security and privacy. Some of them are plagued by issues from the get-go, or simply can’t find the momentum to get off the ground. Most of them fail. But there are some that manage to push through the gauntlet.
Filen.io is the latest such service to try its hand at secure cloud storage. From our testing, we can say it certainly has potential. It’s a simple service (too simple for our liking), and as such you should expect it to at least excel at the fundamentals. However, missing features and disappointing speeds mean that Filen has quite a long and arduous road ahead of itself if it wants to become one of the best cloud storage services.
- Filen.io is a cloud storage service that puts security first, and comes at a very affordable price point.
- It’s a bit stripped down in terms of features, but makes up for it with some of the best security on the market.
- Because of its complicated encryption, Filen suffers from slow upload speeds, though downloads perform well.
In this Filen.io review, we’ll grade the cloud storage newbie on its features, pricing, security and more. Join us for a deep dive, as we inspect every nook and cranny of the service, leaving no stone unturned.
Filen is a zero-knowledge cloud storage service dedicated to user privacy. It’s an affordable solution for the security-conscious, though its feature set leaves something to be desired.
Filen is one of the most secure services we’ve tested. It has everything from zero-knowledge encryption for files and end-to-end encryption for sharing to 2FA. Not to mention its apps are open source, which means anyone can inspect their code for anything fishy.
Filen cloud storage is very affordable, with prices starting from 3.99 euro per month for 500GB of cloud file storage. It also offers affordable lifetime plans with up to 5TB of storage.
Filen Review: Alternatives
Filen Review: Strengths & Weaknesses
- Based in the EU (Germany)
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Decent free plan
- Generous referral program
- Affordable pricing plans
- Very slow uploads
- Lacks features
- Web client can lag
- No automatic photo upload on mobile
Although we usually spend the most time here discussing the bits and bobs that a cloud service offers, Filen really doesn’t have any bits or bobs to discuss. Instead, it focuses on a streamlined experience that prioritizes security. Now, that’s all well and good, and we respect this approach to cloud storage, but we have to dock a few points when a service gives you only the bare minimum.
First, let’s start off with what’s good about Filen. It lets you keep as many previous versions of a file as you want. The only way to lose an older version of a file is if you delete it manually, or delete the file itself. The downside is that all those versions eat into your cloud storage quota, so you may want to clear them once you’re certain you no longer need them.
On the other hand, Filen keeps deleted files for only 30 days. You also have a history which is available forever, but does not let you recover permanently deleted files. There’s also no file size limit, so you can upload gargantuan files without running into a cap.
Unfortunately, that’s where the niceties end. There are no collaboration features or app integrations. You can preview PDFs, images, videos and sounds, but you can’t view Office documents or presentations. Editing is off the table as well, as is any kind of note-taking function.
However, we’re burying the lede here. Filen’s main benefit is its security, and that’s really what you’re paying for. As you’ll see in the “security” section below, it passes with flying colors, and one of the highest marks we’ve given for security and privacy. That alone is enough to leave us cautiously optimistic about Filen’s development, and we’ll let those missing features slide in the name of privacy.
Filen Features Overview
|Sync Any Folder|
|File Link Sharing|
|Link Expiry Dates|
|Link Download Limits|
|Deleted File Retention|
|Encryption Protocol||AES 256-bit|
|Live Chat Support|
If you found Filen’s lack of features discouraging, at least it’s cheap. In fact, it’s one of the more affordable options out there, with prices on par with the best deals in cloud storage, like Sync.com and pCloud. Plus, it has a very good free plan, which we’ll get to soon. But first, let’s take a look at the pricing.
Filen’s pricing plans come in four different capacities: 100GB, 500GB, 2TB and 5TB. These plans cost 0.99 euro per month, 3.99 euro per month, 8.99 euro per month and 16.99 euro per month, respectively. The cost goes down if you opt for an annual plan (unavailable for the 100GB plan).
Bear in mind that the prices are in euros, and the dollar price will depend on the current conversion rate. There’s a snapshot of prices converted to dollars in the pricing table below.
- : 10 GB
- : 100 GB
- : 500 GB
- : 2000 GB
Filen Free Cloud Storage
Another high point: Filen has a pretty generous free plan. The 10GB plan it offers is on par with pCloud and Icedrive — two services with outstanding free plans. The plan doesn’t limit any features and boasts unlimited transfers.
Like MEGA (read our MEGA review), Filen also allows you to expand your storage by referring friends. You only get three referrals, but each gives you 10GB extra. If you yourself are referred, you get another 10GB. This means you can easily raise your free storage quota to an impressive 50GB. Just make sure you don’t try to cheat the system by referring your own accounts. Doing so will get all your accounts suspended.
Lifetime Subscription Options
Filen also offers four lifetime plans, although these are not always available (depending on server load and demand). These plans are the same as the regular ones, offered as a one-time purchase. You have a choice of 100GB for 24.99 euro, 500GB for 89.99 euro, 2TB for 199.99 euro or 5TB for 439.99 euro. Honestly, these are an excellent value, and you break even in just two years or so.
However, prices by themselves don’t say much. You also have to look at what you get for your money. Judging by Filen’s lack of features and slow speed (as you’ll see later on in this review), you don’t get much, at least for now. Filen is still a very young service and we expect to see improvements in its feature set soon, so while you don’t get as much value as with Sync.com (read our Sync.com review), it’s still a pretty sweet deal.
Ease of Use
When it comes to user experience, Filen at least tries to present itself well. The web interface looks a little dated in its design, but at least it’s clean and legible. There’s also a right-click context menu in the browser, which not many cloud storage services bother doing (looking at you, Dropbox).
It also has a dark mode, if you need to conserve energy on your laptop or mobile device or just prefer the way it looks. You can even set custom colors for folders, which can really help with organization.
There are issues, though. Sometimes the interface lags and gets stuck on a loading screen. Another issue is that you can’t really download a file on Microsoft Edge. There’s no automatic photo upload on the mobile app, and the desktop app doesn’t allow you to share files.
Filen.io on Desktop
The Filen desktop app is relegated to the Windows taskbar, which hurts usability. This isn’t really a unique issue, as only a small minority of cloud storage providers have full desktop apps. However, the app doesn’t let you do anything other than sync files.
The app shows you a history of the last several files and lets you set your sync folder and startup behavior. You can also set the sync mode to upload only, download only or two-way. Finally, the app has two shortcuts for opening the sync folder and the web interface. However, that’s the extent of the desktop app’s capabilities, which means you’ll spend most of your time on the Filen.io website.
Filen on Mobile
Filen fails to improve the experience on mobile as well. Yes, it lets you access files remotely, and upload, download and share them, but the core utility of a mobile cloud storage app is photo syncing. Unfortunately, the Filen app currently lacks automatic photo and video uploads, which makes it pretty useless for most mobile users. However, the function is in the works.
Despite some shortcomings, Filen is easy to use and looks decent with dark mode enabled. Thankfully, development is going steadily and we expect Filen to fix its issues in the near future.
File Sharing & Syncing
File sharing is one of the things Filen does well. You can share via a public link or directly to another Filen user by email. It gives you a variety of options that most cloud services lock behind a paywall.
These options include password-protected sharing, an expiry timer and the ability to disable downloads. You can see these options pictured below. This only applies for link sharing, though. Email sharing has no options to set.
To sync your files, Filen uses the traditional sync folder method. There are three sync behavior options: two-way, upload-only and download-only. The upload-only option is great for those who just need a simple cloud backup for files. Syncing is set to two-way by default.
However, it lacks space-saving features. The sync folder model by design requires you to keep two copies of your files on your device: the original file in its location, as well as a copy in your sync folder. Other services, like Icedrive, use a network drive, which only downloads files when you open them. Selective sync is another solution to that issue, but that’s likewise missing.
However, you can designate an existing folder as your sync folder, which could solve that issue, depending on how you keep your folders organized. In the end, though, Filen gives a decent showing in this category.
For this section, we ran several speed tests using a 1GB test folder over a 32 Mbps download speed and a 6 Mbps upload speed. Filen’s servers are located in Germany, so the connection to our testing location in Skopje, Macedonia, should have been relatively fast. The results were not quite what we expected.
Filen Speed Test Results
|First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
As you can see from the table above, Filen’s download speeds were fine. Not necessarily impressive, but well within reasonable bounds. Upload speeds are where things started to fall apart. Given our connection, we expected downloads to finish in around 30 minutes, but Filen took almost twice as long.
Overall, we’re unimpressed with Filen’s speed performance, despite its decent download speed. We suspect the complicated encryption process to be at fault here. However, as you’ll see in the next section, that extra security may well be worth it.
It’s a rare occasion that we can award a cloud storage service a perfect score in any category, let alone such a crucial one. However, Filen deserves a lot of praise for its handling of user security and privacy. It provides airtight encryption and two-factor authentication, and its apps are open-source, which means anyone can audit them for weaknesses or suspicious activity.
The company seems to have been founded with file security as its number-one priority and it shows. When you open the Filen.io website, you see an entire tab devoted purely to encryption. In a rare (and welcome) show of transparency, Filen goes to great lengths to explain the minutiae of how it handles everything in a detailed technical paper. Even file sharing is completely secured by end-to-end encryption.
Best of all, Filen is zero knowledge. This means that you’re the sole owner of your encryption key, and the only one who can ever access it. Files are first split into 1MB pieces, and each piece gets encrypted locally on your machine before being sent to Filen’s servers in Germany. Filen uses AES-256 to encrypt your files, which is as secure as it gets.
Notably, filenames and metadata are also encrypted. Even your login password is encrypted, which means Filen can’t recover your password if you forget it. Some zero-knowledge services don’t give you the option of resetting your password at all, but Filen does, albeit with a disclaimer that doing so will change your encryption key and will likely make your files unreadable.
We really can’t find a fault in Filen’s security, though it’s a relatively new service, and a vulnerability could show itself soon. For now, though, it gets a clean score from us.
Jurisdiction and GDPR Compliance
Filen is based in Germany, which means it’s subject to both German and European privacy laws. Importantly, this includes the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Most services do the bare minimum to comply with GDPR regulations, but Filen goes above and beyond by letting you download all of the data it keeps on you. You can also ask it to delete everything, should you decide to stop using the platform.
Overall, Filen once again manages to thoroughly impress us, and gets its second perfect 100.
If you need help with Filen, you have two options. The first one is a relatively bare knowledgebase that covers a few topics. The answers are usually no more than a paragraph long and have no images.
Your second option is to contact support via a ticket. The ticketing system is a bit cumbersome. It’s easy enough to submit one, but it’s very difficult to check if you’ve gotten an answer, because you have to enter a “ticket tracking ID,” which of course, you won’t remember. You’ll have to check your confirmation email or request to have it sent to you.
That said, once you submit a ticket, expect to get a speedy response. We got our first reply mere minutes after submitting, and the back and forth went quickly and smoothly as well. You can set an urgency level for your ticket, too. An odd choice, considering you have almost no reason to not want an immediate reply.
We don’t expect every service to be able to afford live chat support, especially not a cloud storage toddler like FIlen. Still, we have to shave a few points off for lacking the option, as well as for the cumbersome ticket system and lightweight knowledgebase. The fast response times keep us optimistic, but we don’t expect responses to be as quick in the future, should the service reach a wider audience.
Throughout this Filen.io review, the service had some high highs and some low lows. Faultless security and privacy as well as affordable prices put it ahead of most of its competitors already. However, its abysmal speeds and complete lack of features (including some pretty basic ones) could render it useless to some.
What do you think of Filen.io? Is its spotless security enough of a draw, or are the slow speeds a no-go? Let us know your opinions, and please leave your Filen reviews in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.