Manage my business

6 ways to choose and use online file-sharing software

When it comes to working remotely, it looks like many of us are in it for the long haul. A recent survey found a whopping 43% of full-time American employees want to work from home more often—even after the economy is up and running again. That makes it more critical than ever to keep all of our “ducks in a row” when it comes to creating, sharing, accessing and, perhaps most importantly, protecting our online files.  

Look to the cloud 

While there’s plenty of quality project management and collaboration software—the ability to store, send, manage and work on documents and other files in the cloud without clogging up your device or sending enormous email attachments is central. Whether you want to sign off on a work order remotely, get input on a PowerPoint presentation, or scan and save receipts for an expense report—you need one secure place to do it all on the go. 

The smart solution 

A wise solution requires an easy-to-use file sharing tool that lets you stockpile your documents, photos, videos and more—all in one place, keeping them safe and effortlessly organized—while also keeping everyone on the same page. With all the cloud-based solutions available, both free and premium, how do you know you pick the right online file-sharing software? 

Here some features that separate the so-so from the exceptional: 

Powerful security 

Security is critical, especially when everyone’s working from home. Did you know that 21% of all files in the cloud contain sensitive data? That’s up 17% over the past two years. In light of COVID-19, that number has likely ticked up quite a bit. Make sure you have access to security features that let you: 

  • Set an expiration date for shared links and give others limited-time access 
  • Get alerts if a malicious attack like ransomware is detected 
  • Restore your files after mass deletion, file corruption, ransomware, or other events 
  • Create and require passwords on shared files or folders 
  • Set up two-factor authorization (2FA) and access files via fingerprint, face, SMS code, and other secure methods 

Access to files on-the-go 

Working remotely doesn’t just mean working from home. Often, you’re pulling up files during lunch, while traveling, or standing in line at the grocery store. That’s why having an effortless way to store and access your data online is critical. Look for features that let you: 

  • Access files using any device, whether it’s a PC, Mac, on the internet or through a mobile app—anytime, anywhere
  • Ability to work offline. No internet? Work on your files anyway, and any changes you make are updated once you’re back online. 
  • Use your phone to scan, store and share paper documents, as well as receipts, business cards, whiteboard notes, and more 

Ability to find what you need—fast

A recent survey of information workers and IT professionals found that they spend an average of 4.5 hours a week looking for (and not finding) the documents they need. Make sure your file-sharing software has built-in search and discovery tools that help you quickly track down your files using keyword or dates.  

Share files and collaborate, even with people outside of your organization. 

Very few of us work in a bubble. If you’re a small business owner or collaborate with outside clients or contractors, you need to share files securely with nothing more than an email. Keep in mind, it’s crucial to add an extra layer of security when communicating outside the bubble. So make sure your online file-sharing software lets you: 

  • Specify file and folder access controls for each recipient 
  • Set custom passwords to protect sharing links 
  • Block the ability of individual recipients to edit or download shared files and folders

Format matters 

While many cloud-based file-sharing options have associated productivity apps—let’s face it, pretty much everyone uses the Office 365 suite. It’s intuitive, user friendly and familiar. Therefore, it’s probably a smart idea to choose an option that integrates deeply with Windows 10 and Office 365. 

Version control that works 

Make sure your software includes a version history option for popular Office files, as well as PDFs, CAD files or even your photos and videos. The history should clearly show the date of the previous revisions, who it was modified by, and the size. If you find one accidentally edited, you should be able to easily find and restore the one you need for up to 30 days.  

Working from home has made tools like file-sharing, online meeting solutions and collaboration software invaluable. Luckily, there are many good ones to choose from, with a variety of different capabilities, ranging from free to premium, that help you stay organized, productive, and on the same page—while also keeping your valuable files, documents and other information safe.  

Get started with Microsoft 365

It’s the Office you know, plus the tools to help you work better together, so you can get more done—anytime, anywhere.

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.