Cloud Storage File Sharing Explained

Sharing files from your cloud account has become a very common feature. This can take the form sharing via email addresses, sharing via social networks, sharing public URL’s, or with collaborators using network accounts are some of the ways people send files to each other.

Many people who use cloud storage for sharing find it beneficial. This is because they already have their important files backed up to the server and they can easily share a file with someone without having to attach it in an email, upload it to an FTP or burn it to a CD/DVD. It speeds up the file sending process by a lot.

Also, cloud storage customers like sharing because it offers more security and privacy. You can selectively choose which files you want to send and a method of sharing that fits your security preference.

Ways To Share Files with Cloud Storage

Common Types of Sharing

  • Email Sharing – Share files using email addresses. When a recipient gets the email, they can open the link to a secure area where they can download the files. Some cloud providers require the recipients have an account.
  • Social Network Sharing – Posts a link on your social network’s profile that directs people back to the shared file. It relies on your social network’s privacy settings to be set to what you want and is shared to friends/followers that you have already approved.
  • Public URL Sharing – Creates a URL that links directly to your shared files. Anyone with the link can access these files, which means it’s up to the user to send out the URL responsibly.
  • Pre-registered User Sharing – Requires that everyone is registered under a network of accounts, usually for business accounts. Teams can collaborate using the providers interface and makes it easy to share files between connected users. Privacy and permissions can be set within the cloud software.

Email Sharing

Sharing via email is a very common way to share files with others. The process starts by finding the files to share, adding the contact’s email address and clicking share. The software emails your contact a link to the shared files. Sometimes your recipients will have to sign up for an account with the cloud service. This takes a little extra time, but it adds a layer of privacy and security.

  • Better security
  • Send to as many or few people as you want
  • Private


  • Some providers require recipients to have accounts
  • Not as quick and easy as sharing URL

Email Sharing Example Using SugarSync
As an example, here is how file sharing works with SugarSync. Locate the files/folders you want to share, press ‘Share’ next to them, enter in emails separated by commas, and then click send. They will now be sent an email containing a link to the shared files or folders. A free account to view the shared items.

  1. Log into your account
  2. While in the “Files” area click “Share” next to the file or folder you want to share
  3. Enter in the emails you want to share the file with (Or, you can import contacts using Gmail, Yahoo or SugarSync contacts)
  4. Click “Send”
  5. The recipient gets an email with instructions on how to access shared file

Social Sharing


Social sharing is the process of posting shared content to your social networking profile (such as Facebook or Twitter) for your friends and followers to see. The reason people like sharing on social networks is because it’s quick and easy.

One benefit of social network sharing is that you already have an established list of friends and followers. Which you do not have to sort through a long list of email addresses to create a share list. Also with social sharing, your shared files are public which means you do not have to create a user account.


  • Easy to share established list of friends/followers
  • No recipients do not have to set up accounts (Usually)


  • Privacy settings are different on each of the social networks

Social Sharing Example Using IDriveSync

As an example, IDriveSync works really well with social networks. They have an integrated sharing tool that can share to Facebook as a post. This can be helpful to those who need a safe place to store files and want to share out some of them publicly. Since the share button is built into the interface it is pretty easy to share files to social networks.

  1. Log into your account
  2. Locate the file you want to share
  3. Click the arrow on the right hand of the file
  4. Click, “Share”
  5. After you login using the dialogue box, your content will be posted on Facebook or where ever.

*Note you can also Pin to Pinterest, Share to LinkedIn and Tweet on Twitter.

Public URL Sharing

Files stored on the cloud can usually be shared using a Public URL. Public URL’s are a direct link to your file or folder. Usually the service provider will have a user interface that any user can access on their website. This allows recipients to easily access files you send them. With a link, you can post it any where making it extremely versatile. It’s also easy to use and, since it’s public, anyone can access it.

  • Very flexible sharing
  • Easy to use
  • Anyone can access


  • Once shared, anyone who has the link can download your files

Public URL Sharing Example Dropbox
Dropbox is one of the syncing providers that does this well. You can share any file that has been uploaded to your account. While viewing your files, use the ‘Share Like’ icon to start the process. The result is that recipients can quickly view and download files.

  1. Login to your Dropbox account
  2. Click to open the folder you want to share
  3. Click the chain-link icon to share link
  4. This will open a dialogue box like you see above
  5. Click, “Copy link t o this page” to get the URL
  6. The URL is now copied to your clipboard, type CTRL+V to paste the URL anywhere.

*Note that everything within this folder will now be able to be seen by anyone. Hence the name, Public URL. If you do not want to share the folders publicly, you can click, “Share Folder Options” in the tool bar to share using other options.

Pre Registered User Sharing

Pre-registered user sharing works by having a set of users that are registered into the system and managed by the administrator. It’s primarily used for businesses who need teams to access files for collaboration and easy sharing back and forth. It’s used by mostly for sharing with in a group of users.

  • Registered users are easy to share files with
  • You can collaborate on files with your user group
  • Control permissions on file


  • Takes time to set up
  • You have to be registered and so do your collaborators

Pre-registered User Sharing Example Using Box
For Pre-registered user sharing Box is a good example. They provide an interface for collaborating and sharing files between users. It’s most useful for teams and groups that are using a set of files that are consistently being updated between users. Sharing within this program gives you a few more options than other sharing, such as real-time file editing and permission levels.

  1. Login to your account after created
  2. Go to “People” in the top menu
  3. Click “Add Collaborators”
  4. Next, click, “Files” and locate the file or folder you want to share
  5. Click “Share” on the right hand side of the file or folder
  6. Choose the collaborators or groups and click, “Invite Collaborators”

Other Cloud Resources