Shares vs. Users: File Sharing 101

Published on 21 Jun 2018 - Updated on 30 Jan 2020

In the world of file uploads and download can be confusing. We want to make sure you are sharing what you need to share with the appropriate users and the proper access to your file sharing account.

To provide access to your file sharing account, you can either create a share, or create a user.

What is the difference between shares and users?

First, let’s go over users.

Users: The Basics – A Guide To Adding, Editing, And Deleting Users.

Users are alternate logins to your file sharing account. You create a user (or user account) in order to grant another person access to the files stored in your account.

Here are some examples of when you would create a user:

  • When you want to give an employee ongoing access to the account (or specific folders in the account).
  • Create a new user when you are allowing someone to create and manage shares, monitor sharing activity on the account, manage notifications, changes account settings or other administrative duties.
  • If you want to give someone access via FTP or SFTP.

What Are Permissions?

Permissions allow you to decide who has access to your data. Finding a file sharing solution that offers a flexible permissions model gives you control over who can access the data in your account, and for how long.

Per-user permissions allow you to set permissions for each individual user you create.

Let your creative assistant upload files to the account as access only files in the marketing folder. For the marketing manager, this user could be granted permission to not only upload and delete files but to access all files in the account.

Example user permissions for different user roles.

User permissions vary from one file transfer provider to another. Below is an example of user permissions that can be set by admin for users in an ExaVault account. You get full control over what each user can do, and what files or folders they can access.

Example of User Permissions:

  • Share and send files.
  • Upload files and folders.
  • Download files and folders.
  • Delete files and folders.
  • Modify (new folder, rename, copy, move).
  • Setup notifications.List files and folders.
  • Change password.

For more on users, check out ExaVault’s support library page – Users: The Basics.

Do I have to create a user to share a file with someone?

Not necessarily – This leads us to shares.

Shares are when you share a file or folder on your account with others. Let’s explore how this differs from creating a user.

For one, you can send files directly to someone. Direct shares are similar to sending an email. However, a direct share is not limited in size. You can quickly share large files using the send files feature in your ExaVault account.

Another example of shares is creating a shared folder. A shared folder allows you to share a file or folder with several people who do not have user accounts. Shared folders are ideal for collaboration. You can share the link to the shared folder in an email with a custom message letting the recipient know that a folder has been shared with them.

Additional features available with this type of share on an ExaVault account include delivery receipts, require email to access, an expiration date on the shares, and require password to access a shared folder.

What if you need to receive a file from someone without giving them a login and password?

This type of share is known as a receive folder. They let others share files with you, directly to your account without a user account. Receive folders are extremely handy for businesses – clients can directly upload files to the business’s file sharing account.

ExaVault receive folders work by letting clients and customers upload directly to an account via a link to a web form. You can also use our form builder to customize and embed the form directly into your website for easy access when someone needs to upload and share a file with you.

For more on this type of share, check out ExaVault’s support library page – Receive Folders.

Who do you need to share files with?

Mock up illustration in notebook showing who you need to share files with.

Now you have a better understanding of shares vs. users.

Shares – allowing someone to download or upload a file.

Users – individuals with access to your account.

In summary, this is about more than just file sharing; It is about finding the right option when it comes to activity on your file sharing account and providing the correct access for any situation. Review the following options and choose the best one for each file transfer.

1. Users

Create users when you need to have people logging into the file sharing account for security reasons. The option to create users is good for FTP, file transfers back and forth, or when there is a need to assign individuals to a specific isolated folder.

2. Sharing

Sharing provides ease of use. There is no user maintenance for shares. Sharing can even be embedded directly into your website. This keeps your business look streamlined and lets you focus on your clients.

Shares are the simple way to let someone else access a file. Shares are great for distribution of materials such as manuals, RFP, etc. Recipients can bookmark the web link you provide them for access to the shared file at their convenience.

3. Send

Great for one-time downloads – think large email attachments. Use the send feature and include an expiration date limiting how long the recipient is able to access that file. With ExaVault, the links you send automatically expire in 2 weeks, but can be extended up to 60 days.

4. Receive Folders

Receive folders allow people to upload files to your account without being a user or having a login. This is a great way to let people get you the files they need to upload without having to create an account for them. Use a simple web form link that can be emailed or embedded directly into your website.

5. Form Builder

With Form Builder, you can customize and embed a form to receive files to you ExaVault account directly on your website. Great for businesses with order forms that need files attached.

Now you can ditch the file sharing confusion – there are ways to make file sharing meet your needs whatever the situation. From simple shares via link to customized forms, once you know the options, it’s easy to create the appropriate users and shares.

Ready to share, receive and collaborate? Try ExaVault today!

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