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What file-sharing tools do you use?

What file-sharing tools do you use?

  • When working with distributed groups, do you collaborate on documents using Microsoft Word, or do you rely on other tools like Google Docs, wikis, project-collaboration software, or file-synchronization software? What method do you prefer, and why?
    senior editor, TechSoup
  • I usually share docs using Microsoft Word (or OpenOffice which can save in Word doc format).

    Occasionally I've been involved in using BaseCamp with I really liked.

    I've tried to collaborate using a company wiki but couldn't get it going. The others that I collaborate with are in a central office. This means that I am the most motivated to find better systems, and need to make it work the most easily for others. The learning curve on the Wiki was too great to overcome under the circumstances.

    Best wishes,

    Sasha Daucus
    Volunteer TechSoup Moderator

  • We're currently using Word, but are looking for other options. Our National Office is investigating the pros and cons of setting up a SharePoint Server.

    Mike Kirros IS Coordinator Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund Midwest Regional Office

  • We use a variety of tools, including an internal blog, but also use GoogleApps Education Edition (free for non-profits), and Microsoft Office Online (free).

    There's not much difference between the GoogleApps product and the MS Office Online product, except most people find using the MS product easier to adjust to using on a regular basis, and when it saves a file as an MS Word (or other MS document format), you know what you're getting.

    The convertor used in the GoogleApps document tool saves to MS Word format, but doesn't do perfect formatting for the MS Word format.

    The great thing about GoogleApps and the MS Office Online app is that both allow you to assign access, as well as editor or reader permissions to files and directories. If someone doesn't have access, don't worry about hurt feelings, either. Unless you tell someone they don't have access to all the files and directories, they will never know!

    We have a few sandboxes online for development, and a few blogs for projects, and other collaboration tools. Documents, such as post-mortems, can be handled in any of the environments, and it often is up to the team leader to decide which forum to use for the project(s).

    We will, after a period of evaluation, be knocking out some of the "options," but keeping the doors (and accounts) open, "just in case." Never burn bridges, you know? ;)

    Dave Jackson
    National Coordinator
    Awake In America, Inc.
    "Helping others sleep better every night!
  • Thanks for all of your responses and feedback.

    For those of you who are new to long-distance file-sharing or for those of you who are looking for alternatives to email when it comes to document collaboration, Idealware's article A Few Good Tools for Sharing Files with Distributed Groups offers an overview of various solutions.

    If you've tried any of these tools, feel free to share your feedback here.
    senior editor, TechSoup
  • Unfortunately, some of the information in that article is a little outdated, but for organizations, should be updated. One example: GoogleDocs vs. GoogleApps (for non-profits, the Education Edition is free, and much friendlier and robust than GoogleDocs).

    Also, MS Office Live (, along with many of the tools, such as SkyDrive (, FolderShare (, and many others.

    For non-profits with Web hosting plans featuring Fantastico (not that I like Fantastico, as it is always a version behind in many cases), but it's a great tool for less-than-techie people (and those with small-to-no IT staff) to get great collaboration tools and other generally-done-by-larger-sites tools. You can check out the list of utilities including in the C-Panel/Fantastico packages at: It's available on one of the many packages I have (personally), and I use it to do quick installs for sandboxes (test sites) for various things.

    Once I've played around for a few days and made a decision whether I like it or despise it, I dump the Fantastico install, grab the installer package from the FOSS site for the package itself, such as TikiWiki, Moodle, Noah's Classifieds, etc., and do a proper install. That's my preference. Need mailing list software and "Mailman"? No problem, it's there. ;) But it is also FOSS (free and open-source software).

    Have fun playing in the great ether!

    Dave Jackson
    National Coordinator
    Awake In America, Inc.
    AIM/AOL: AwakeInAmerica05
    V: 215-764-6568
  • This is a great list, and I've recommended almost all of these to a number of folks. I have however found some of my less tech savvy clients like ProjectSpaces, which doesn't quite have all of the implementation as some of the others, but is great for users needing to use a tool without struggling to figure out how to use it. They also have a non-profit discount for those organizations (I think it's something like 20%). Check the tool out -

    Great list though! Google Apps seems to get better every time I check it out.
  • HyperOffice document collaboration suite is another great option to consider.

  • TechSoup will host a TweetChat on 11.July.2011 at 10am Pacific USA Time regarding working with virtual teams, and this will be a terrific opportunity to get more updated suggestions. Follow @TechSoup on Twitter so you will stay up-to-date about this and other events.

    As for me, online tools I use with distributed groups/online volunteers to collaborate on documents and other files include:

    • if it's just one or two other people, and the focus of the collaboration is a document, the MS edit function that allows you to save and show changes, which works in NeoOffice and OpenOffice as well (for those of you who, like me, prefer FOSS). If it's a big document, I prefer sharing it on DropBox rather than as an email attachment, so the latest version can always be found.
    • if it's more than two other people, and the focus of the collaboration is a document, and it's not a HUGE document, then I like GoogleDocs. If it's a huge document (with many chapters), and more than two other people would be involved, I'd want to use a wiki. TechSoup introduced me to WikiSpaces, and I really like it.
    • if it's a spreadsheet or a slide show presentation, no matter how many people, I prefer GoogleDocs.

    I just so wish YahooGroups had something like GoogleDocs for use within a YahooGroup - that would be... beyond stellar. YahooGroups remains my favorite online community forum platform, and I use it a lot with various nonprofit employees and volunteers.

    Why do I prefer these tools?

    • they are free (which not only helps my budget, but better ensures everyone can use them)
    • they are easy to use
    • they work across operating systems
  • DropBox is a great tool for file sharing. A lot of freelancers, entrepreneurs and distributed groups use Dropbox to collaborate, upload, download and share files and folders across the internet. It makes online file synchronization smooth and virtually instantaneous.. Here are other magical tools you can use to help distributed groups to communicate more effectively and become more productive.





  • We have been using for a year or so and it has proved to be the BEST value and easy to use. Their document version control works great, and their task management is easy to use. They offer a 50% discounts to non-profits and have unlimited seats and projects.  It is a GREAT value

  • We use Google Apps, Dropbox, and Basecamp. Curious about Huddle, which I see is now on Tech Soup.


    What I don't like about Google is that sharing and permissions sometimes seems clunky, and there isn't (or I'm not aware of) a way to save versions. Also, I dislike seeing so many files when I go into it.

    I like Dropbox because its so accessible and intuitive, and one can put files in folders, but there's the same versioning problem. Also, as more people get added it gets cumbersome in a way that Google and Basecamp don't.

    In Basecamp I really like the ability to have different projects with different people involved. I've found this trickier with both Google and Dropbox. I like the message threads and how it sends messages via email vs. having to visit the site. I dislike the inability to edit docs on the site. Also, folks periodically have trouble logging in.

    I'd love it if someone made a matrix of features and services so they could be compared and contrasted.

  • We use BaseCamp especially for grant applications that require collaborating with a bunch of different people (up to ten, usually) located across the country. So far I've had better luck with Basecamp with a very specific project and outcome, rather than as  a "hang-out" informal place for postings

  • Folks, you may want to check out the new TechSoup donation program from Huddle.  See details here.

    Barb, TechSoup Senior Relationship Manager


  • I've worked with a company local here in the PNW that offers cloud based document management, training/learning management, and social collaboration in one platform.  It seems to be more flexible than many other solutions and is affordable as its subscription based.  It's called knowledge vault and is at  Something new that might be worth checking out if your looking for online sharing/communication tools!  Good Luck!