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

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'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



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.