Filen Review

Filen.io is the new kid on the block in the cloud storage world. This Filen review takes a deep dive into every aspect of the provider to find out how it compares to other cloud storage services. Read on for all the details.

Aleksandar Kochovski
By Aleksandar Kochovski (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-11-05T06:19:37+00:00
(Editor)
Starts from $ 081 per month for 100 GB
Free plan available Save 30 % (All Plans)
slider 1
slider 2
slider 3
slider 4

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.

Key Takeaways:

  • 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

Pros:

  • Based in the EU (Germany)
  • Zero-knowledge encryption
  • Decent free plan
  • Generous referral program
  • Affordable pricing plans

Cons:

  • Very slow uploads
  • Lacks features
  • Web client can lag
  • No automatic photo upload on mobile

Features

65 % – Decent

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.

filen web interface
Instead of cluttering its service with features, Filen takes a stripped-down approach to cloud storage.

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.

filen previous versions
Filen keeps all previous versions of files forever, but they take up storage space.

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.

Missing Features

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
Sync Folder
Block-Level Sync
Selective Sync
Bandwidth management
Sync Any Folder
File Sharing
File Link Sharing
Link Passwords
Link Expiry Dates
Folder Sharing
Folder Permissions
Link Download Limits
Upload Links
Productivity
File Previews
Edit Files
In-App Collaboration
Office Online
Google Docs
Notes App
Media Playback
Mobile Apps
Deleted File Retention
Versioning
WebDAV
Security
At-Rest Encryption
In-Transit Encryption
Encryption ProtocolAES 256-bit
Zero Knowledge
Two-Factor Authentication
Server LocationEU
Support
24/7 Support
Live Chat Support
Telephone Support
Email Support
User Forum
Knowledgebase
Misc
Free Plan

Pricing

90 % – Excellent

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 cta
Filen’s pricing is affordable, and even comes with a lifetime option.

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.

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

70 % – Decent

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.

filen web interface dark
Dark mode makes the otherwise dated web interface a little more palatable.

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.

The logo on the website is blurry, too, which just shows a lack of attention to detail.

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.

filen desktop app
The desktop app could be improved with some functionality other than syncing 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.

filen mobile app
Filen lacks a crucial function on mobile: automatic photo uploads.

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

80 % – Good

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. 

filen share by email
If you need to share with a Filen user, you can use the end-to-end encrypted sharing option by email.

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.

filen sharing options
Link sharing allows for many more options than email.

File Sync

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.

Speed

40 % – Terrible

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:
Upload speed48:5347:4547:49
Download speed05:1905:2305:21

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. 

Security

100 % – Excellent

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.

Zero-Knowledge 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.

filen encryption page
It’s uncommon for a cloud service to give such a deeply detailed description of how its encryption works.

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.

Privacy

100 % – Excellent

Filen has possibly the cleanest privacy policy of any that we’ve seen so far. It’s completely devoid of legal jargon and so short that you’ll need less than a minute to digest it all. It collects very little data, apart from what it needs to keep the service going. This includes your email and IP address, as well as browser info.

filen-privacy-policy
This is it. That’s the whole privacy policy. Just six bullet points.

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.

Customer Support

70 % – Decent

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.

filen customer support
Filen’s customer support options are limited, but its support team is quick to answer queries.

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.

The Verdict

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.

Was this post helpful?

6 thoughts on “Filen”

  1. Used as browser-based cloud storage, Filen works well. The desktop client is its Achilles heel. It has no manual upload option, so cloud-only storage is via browser only. No explorer (context menu) integration. One-way sync mode is mirror syncing, so it deletes cloud-stored files unless you move them! On top of that, the desktop app is around 200 MB installed.

    It desperately needs a better sync client, but its browser interface is more usable than many. Zero-knowledge storage and 2FA as standard do though make it a decent option for secure and private backup storage.

    Reply
    1. Hello! I believe you misunderstand the purpose of syncing. Yes, if you delete a file, it should be deleted everywhere. This is the main difference between a cloud storage service and online backup. A cloud service will sync files across all devices and the cloud, and will update the condition of those files, even if they’re edited or deleted.

      However, if you choose “local to cloud”, then files deleted in the cloud will not be deleted from your device. The opposite should be true for “cloud to local” — files deleted on your device should not affect the cloud versions. Is this what’s happening for you?

      Thanks for the feedback! We await your reply.

      Reply
      1. Hi Aleksandar, thanks for your comment. I’ve not misunderstood syncing.

        Filen has two desktop sync modes, standard two-way and one-way.

        Filen has chosen mirror syncing as its one-way mode, meaning you can’t use it to purely upload files to your cloud, as the files must also remain on your computer. If removed, they will, as you say, be deleted from your cloud. To upload a file to your cloud, but for it not to be linked to your computer, you must upload it, log into your Filen web page and physically move the file out of the sync folder to prevent it from being deleted.

        If Filen had chosen mirror update-only syncing, it would allow you to drop files into the synced folder and be uploaded as before, but if you later deleted any files, from that same folder on your computer, the cloud-stored versions would remain in Filen. Standard two-way syncing would still be available for other folders, where you want both sides (cloud and computer) to match.

        The only realistic way to manually upload files to Filen, as un-linked cloud storage, is via the web page. The desktop client can’t do that, it can only replicate your computer’s folders in the cloud.

        I’m familiar with Filen, I’ve used it for a while, and it’s an effective, privacy-focused storage system, but its current sync client is not a finished product.

        Reply
  2. Perfect for me, I don’t take pictures so the photo uploads are no big deal. , great security for long term low cost file storage..

    Reply
  3. As for me, Filen is the best cloud storage. Simply because it takes security and privacy really seriously. I don’t want anyone to be able to get access to my files, which is, suprisingly, a huge problem in most cloud storages. Though I haven’t got anything illegal stored anywhere and “have nothing to hide”.
    The next release of Filen mobile will be a major one. I personally translate it to Russian and Ukrainian and urge everyone to help translate it into your language cause most translations are outdated and miss many strings.
    Regarding speeds, I don’t have any problems. My max network bandwich is ~11 MB/s (100 Mbit/s) and upload speed of 4,5 GB video was stable 13 MB/s.
    Desktop client is really a problem. I think that developers must at least port their mobile app functionality to desktop drive mounting (for all operation systems) would also be an excellent option. However I understand that it would be difficult to implement due to encryption structure. Deb, rpm, tar.gz (Arch), snap and flatpack packages for Linux should be made and included in repositories. Not to mention F-droid.
    There is still a lot work to do, but I should note that the project is only one year old and developers work hard to reach the level of others. They are very ambitious and I’m sure there is more to come

    Reply
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top