Sharing files with anyone online, be it your friends and family should not come at a cost of privacy and security. I will be covering all the ways you can share files easily and securely with your friends and family or anonymously, without a middleman.
Most of the online file sharing techniques like sending via email or messaging apps require you to have an account, and they have pesky limitations on the file size.
Some online file sharing apps don’t encrypt the files, making it available to anyone, and vulnerable to censorship. This can be a tricky situation if you are say a journalist or a human rights activist who is trying to share important documents or photos online.
Alright, enough intro let’s dig in to find a secure online file sharing app that respects your privacy.
How to Choose a Secure File Sharing App?
Here are a few things you should keep in mind while trying to find an online file sharing app:
- File size limitations: This is an obvious one, most of the online file sharing apps have file size limits, you should find the file sharing app that lets you share your large files easily.
- File type limitations: Some online file sharing apps limit what kind of files you are allowed to share, usually files with “.exe” and other extensions are forbidden.
- Bandwidth limitations: Sometimes your files may get deleted from the server if it is consuming a lot of bandwidth, this can be an issue if you are sharing a file with lots of people or if your file size is high, look for the ones that give you plenty of bandwidth to work with.
- Encryption: Look for the ones that utilize end-to-end encryption while sharing files, and encrypt it when it is stored at their servers, it’s nice to have the ability to add password protection too.
Alright, here are my recommendations for secure online file sharing apps:
OnionShare is a free and open source file sharing app that lets you securely and anonymously share files of any size. It creates a web server that makes OnionShare accessible as a Tor Onion Service, potentially temporarily or in a stealthy manner, over the Internet.
You will get an unguessable .onion address that you just need to send to the recipient, who can access it by opening it on the Tor Browser to download the files. There are no separate servers or third party file-sharing service involved — You host the files on your own computer.
Firefox Send [Discontinued]
Firefox Send is a free and open source app that lets you share files securely by using end-to-end encryption that keeps your data secure from the moment you share to the moment your file is opened.
You can choose when your file link expires, the number of downloads, and add password for an extra layer of security. There’s an online instance by Mozilla that is limited to file size of 2.5 GB, and it is available on the Web and Android.
You can self-host it on your own server making it virtually without any limits, apart from the ones that are set by the hosting provider.
Magic Wormhole is a free and open source app with the motto: “Get things from one computer to another, safely.” It is a package that provides a library and a command-line tool named wormhole, which makes it possible to get arbitrary-sized files and directories (or short pieces of text) from one computer to another.
The two endpoints (sender and receiver) are identified by using identical short and human-pronounceable wormhole codes; in general, the sending machine generates and displays the code, which must then be typed into the receiving machine.
Framadrop is free and open source file sharing service by Framasoft that lets you share files in a confidential manner. It stores your files of any size for 24 gours, your files are end-to-end encrypted from your browser, powered by Lufi, developed by Luc Didry.
croc is a free and open source file sharing app that lets any two computers to transfer files and folders securely. It provides end-to-end encryption, multiple transfers, no file size limits, and is arguably faster than wormhole, rsync, scp as it uses compression and multiplexing.
FreedomBox is designed to be a private server for non-experts; it lets you install and run free software and offers an increasing number of services ranging from a file sharing app, calendar & contacts, proxy server, NAS to a full fledgd VPN.
You can run FreedomBox on any cheap hardware of your choice, or buy an inexpensive Freedombox from their website. You also get the ability to run it on a virtual private server of your choice.
Tresorit Send is a free and secure way to send files up to 5 GB of data confidentially. It is powered by Tresorit Cloud, based in Switzerland, and is available on the Web, Android, and iOS.
Secure File Sharing Apps
That wraps up secure file sharing apps and services that you can use to send and receive files easily, without compromising your privacy. I would recommend using OnionShare or your own instance of Firefox Send, for the sake of simplicity and ease of use.
That’s all folks!
I will be updating this page frequently with more file sharing apps and services. You can check out the recommended cloud storage services that respect your privacy.