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I remember the dinosaur-days of the Internet fondly, but one thing that I’ll never miss is how stinkin’ long it took to transfer files from one computer to another.
In the old days, file sharing services and software weren’t nearly as common or sophisticated as they are today, and the most common way to send trivial files was via email. But there are two common problems with sending files via email: file size limits and security.
Unless you encrypt your file before sending it as an attachment, chances are it is sent in plain text. And though security should be one of your biggest concerns, you should be aware that most email systems impose a maximum file size limit on email attachments, which makes it impossible to send some types of files. Even with compression tools, some email systems simply lack the ability to send large files.
Over a decade ago, the only viable solution to move large amounts of data between systems was to dump it on an external medium (like flash drives, CD/DVDs, hard drives, etc.) and physically transport the storage medium to the receiving computer. Obviously, that’s not an elegant solution, and plenty of services sprouted up over the last 10 years to solve this problem.
One such service is called WeTransfer, which offers the core service of moving your files – even large files – from point A to point B. But is WeTransfer worth it? How much does it cost, and what features are included? Is it even secure to use? I aim to help you answer all of those questions and more by picking apart this provider piece by piece. So, let’s dive in by taking a look at its pricing model.
WeTransfer has a pleasantly simple payment model that doesn’t use complex or contrived discount systems, and it also has a completely free version that doesn’t require any payment card data. That means you can use the free version without worrying about time limits or getting automatically billed if you failed to cancel service within a specified time period.
The following outlines WeTransfer’s pricing model:
- Free version doesn’t require payment card data
- Monthly – $12.00 per month (check here for the latest price & discounts)
- Annual – $120.00 billed annually ($10.00 per month, savings of $24.00 per year) (check here for the latest price & discounts)
To be completely honest, even though I admire WeTransfer for providing a free version, I thought the paid version was a little high priced for what it is. WeTransfer is rather different from most other cloud storage and online backup providers since its main focus is providing the ability to email massive files.
Still, most cloud backup and online storage solutions provide ways to share files securely with other people. In fact, many competing online storage services have the ability to generate a unique temporal URL that points to a file download that can be sent to a friend or colleague. Since cloud storage competitors have this feature, I would have expected WeTransfer’s pricing to be more competitive.
However, you can sign up with many online storage providers for less money than WeTransfer. Some of them are only half of WeTransfer’s monthly cost. I don’t think WeTransfer is exorbitantly priced, but I would recommend staying away from the monthly subscription since it doesn’t offer any savings discounts.
To be completely honest, this service really doesn’t have a whole lot of features. The best way I can describe is it a dumbed down, or perhaps streamlined, version of a cloud storage service. Also, note that the free version doesn’t have as many features as the paid version, which is to be expected.
In fact, the free service is little more than an email service that will allow you to send file attachments that are up to 2 GB in size, which is decent for a free service, I suppose.
The paid service, however, comes with drastically improved features, and the two biggest advantages are an improved file size limit and online storage. The paid service permits files of up to 20 GB per transfer, which is rather large.
For all practical purposes, to send files of that size, you’re going to need to have decent broadband Internet with a moderately fast upload rate to send such a large file without having to wait hours for it to upload.
Also, note that you can store up to 100 GB of data online. I’m not sure I would use this service as a cloud storage replacement, since most other cloud storage services come with drastically improved features, such as syncing and backup options.
That said, 100 GB of online storage is a handy and nice feature addition, to say the least. And the last big feature is security. WeTransfer allows you to password protect your files.
Also, note that files aren’t deleted after they have been sent via WeTransfer. That way you can give your recipient ample time to download the files you send. But for those of you who are worried about sensitive data being hosted on a server outside of your control, know that you can set limits on how long the file is available.
The default is to remove any files you upload after a week, but you do have flexible options to change that timeout value.
In summary, the following are the features of WeTransfer:
- Can upload files 20 GB in size, or 2 GB with the free version
- 100 GB of online storage capacity
- 1-week default file availability timeout
- File transfer history
- Password protection
When I first heard about the WeTransfer service, I was more than a little skeptical. With years of real-world experience as a network engineer, I was more than a little worried about security when using WeTransfer. The website, in my opinion, did a poor job of communicating how well files are secured when using this service.
In fact, all I could find on the main landing pages of the website was the feature “password protected files.” So at first glance, I didn’t even think that it used encryption. The good news is that after a little digging, I was able to confirm that WeTransfer does use encryption to protect your files as they are in transit to the recipient, which is a necessity in today’s insecure digital age.
To facilitate secure file transfers, WeTransfer uses two different encryption protocols at two different stages of the process. First, when data is actually being transmitted to the server, it is encrypted with TLS (Transport Layer Security).
Once your file has successfully been transferred to the WeTransfer server, it is decrypted into plain text, and then once again encrypted, but this time with AES-256-bit encryption.
For those of you who were unaware, AES-256 encryption is so strong that it is commonly used in military applications and banking transactions, and still can’t be hacked or cracked. At any rate, I was pleased to see that WeTransfer does take measures to ensure that your files are adequately encrypted and secure, though I wish clients could manage their own encryption keys.
So what’s the final verdict on WeTransfer? Well, I feel a little conflicted about this service. First of all, note that I think the service is mostly good, does what it says it will, and is even secure. However, even though there’s a lot I like about this service, I wasn’t thrilled with its price.
I especially didn’t like the price of the monthly option, and the monthly cost of the annual subscription is still a little high by my standards.
If you’re just looking for a way to transfer files among friends, you may want to check out a cloud storage provider, since most of them are cheaper and still offer a way to share files via secure download links. Still, I do have to give WeTransfer applause for a simple and effective service. So here’s what I’d recommend: start with the free trial and move on from there.
If you like the free version enough, only then pay money for the service. I thought it was great, but I won’t be a regular user since I already have a couple of cloud storage providers.