Storage

Hightail: a robust alternative to Dropbox

If you want a share-centric cloud file host service, our reviewer says Hightail delivers the features you need at a great price.

Online file-sharing sites are the popular vehicle for sending files without being stunted by small attachment size limitations that most webmail services enforce. To mitigate this concern, I regularly use Dropbox, because of its simple file sync capabilities and easy to use web interface.

Dropbox gives a rather measly amount of space for free and even paid accounts. The value proposition is lacking for me, and I've been searching for an alternative that would better fit my needs.

My review of Hightail

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Hightail (formerly known as YouSendIt) is one possibility I've been exploring; it would fill the niche of a flexible cloud storage site with easy file sharing. Hightail has an email-sharing feature that allows you to send any file you desire to any recipient, sans unwieldy attachments. A unique aspect of this feature is the time bomb on links sent out; this is particularly useful when dealing with time-sensitive material that you don't want the recipient to have access to after a certain date. There's even a Hightail plugin for Outlook that allows you to generate such links as you're composing an email.

Hightail also provides its own cloud storage repository where you can stash any documents, images, music, and random files, binary or otherwise. You can upload files using the web interface or by using the Hightail App for Windows and OS X. The folder sync capability works very much like it does in Dropbox in that you can drag and drop files and sync only directories you manually specify (Figure A).

Figure A

 

Hightail_A_010314.png
 

Hightail's sync app resembles that of Dropbox. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Hightail offers a Free account with a 2 GB online drive and a maximum individual file size limit of 250 MB, though the service seems to make more sense after going with a paid account (which start at $15.99/month). For instance, with the Free account, you can send small files to almost anyone, but you sacrifice extras like return receipts and password protection unless you want to pay one-off fees. Once you add up all of the fees, I think you'd be better off upgrading your Free account to the Professional account.

The Professional account gives you unlimited storage and e-signatures for signing your transfers for authenticity, the ability to upload or send files up to 2 GB in size, and the option to set the link to expire after a certain number of downloads or on a specific date (Figure B). Plus, for Pro account users, there are no silly fees for extras like password protection and return receipts. 

Figure B

 

Hightail_B_010314.png
 

Pro users reap the full benefits of Hightail's file email feature. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Dropbox lacks this email facility and offers a finite amount of storage even with paid accounts. Dropbox does offer a 100 GB account for $9.99/month, but I'd rather not have to count bytes and be careful with what I upload.

In addition, Hightail's sharing aspect feels far more robust and useful than Dropbox in the long run. For primarily that reason, I heartily recommend Hightail.

Post your recommendation

What's your favorite file share service? Let us know in the comments section. 

 

About

An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

5 comments
danielhartworth
danielhartworth

I use many cloud storage services such as dropbox, googledrive, skydrive etc, and I didn't know about this one, so I'll check it out for sure. Recently I added a new web app on the list, it's Unioncy's web app (http://www.unioncy.com) as they automatically turn uploaded/forwarded receipts into an index of useful 'product cards' with all information in one place in the cloud and I got my profile sync with dropbox.

sgv2008
sgv2008

You can also use Primadesk Android app to manage multiple Hightail accounts and transfer files between them.  Primadesk allows you to connect to other services and move files into Hightail easily.  There are also a bunch of features like bump & share between Android phones that are not yet available in Hightail but is available in Primadesk.  Try it out.  Primadesk is one of the early partners to use Hightail APIs effectively. 

DesertPete9
DesertPete9

I've been using Box, recently upgraded to Box Sync, for several months and it works fine for me. Haven't made any head-to-head comparisons with similar services, but if it ain't broke... You know the drill. I actually did a little research on the net comparing Drop Box with Box before choosing the latter.


I also share a SkyDrive account with my wife, who posts lots of pictures, but I still give Box Sync the edge. Don't use SkyDrive much.

Gisabun
Gisabun

I like DropBox because I can dump a file and get a direct link. Also have SkyDrive but don't use it as much. Problem with both is that I would like to backup/sync a portion of my My Docs but not all. You can't puck and choose easily and unless you manually sync a copy in My Docs and another in the DropBox folder, you have to place your complete My Docs inside the DropBox folder.

Hightail is robust but only if you pay for the extras.

matticamp
matticamp

Thanks for posting. I didn't know about this service. DropBox is in fact very advertised but it's not the fastest solution. I'd rather have a Google Drive account, because of the larger storage space and because it's faster. I had to upload a video for a class assignment and I used DropBox public folder. It took forever to load, so I had to switch to other solutions. Thanks for posting.

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