ShareFile is a filesharing service from Citrix, which is also responsible for services like GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting. It is also gunning for Dropbox‘s customers, claiming to beat Dropbox in a number of ways.

While ShareFile has some features that would be attractive to a central IT department, its storage capacity is too small — and its price tag too high — to be much use to most law firms.

Misleading claims about security

The ShareFile-Dropbox comparison chart (PDF) I was sent by a ShareFile salesperson is misleading, at best. For example, ShareFile claims it beats Dropbox by using 256-bit encryption and that “files are stored encrypted on our servers.” But Dropbox actually uses 256-bit encryption for transfer and storage, too. This is reasonable security, but it is also fairly standard.

The comparison chart also claims ShareFile has no software to download, but that Dropbox requires it. Neither of these is strictly true. If you want to sync files across computers with ShareFile, you’ll have to download an app. Conversely, if you want to use Dropbox without downloading anything, there’s no reason you can’t do that.

Neither encrypts your files before transfer, which is one of the main reasons people worry about Dropbox’s security (if this bothers you, use SpiderOak). Both allow you to designate who can access files. Both use Amazon servers. And so on. Many of the points on the comparison chart are questionable.

Part of security is trust, and based on this promotional material, I don’t think I trust ShareFile.

Little for lots

It is also a questionable value. In order to get 5 GB of storage, you have to pay $29.95 per month. (As one LAB member put it, “$30/mo for 5GB? Are they storing all the data on floppies?”) If you want Dropbox functionality, though, you have to pay for the next level: $59.95 for 10 GB.

Heck, you can get 5 GB of storage on Dropbox for free if you refer a couple of friends or take part in one of Dropbox’s numerous promos. $50 a year gets you 50 GB on Dropbox.

But what’s worse is the maximum storage available. With ShareFile, you can get a maximum of 20 GB (for $99.95 per month) on the normal plans. That wouldn’t be enough to hold my files — and I’m a solo practitioner with fairly sparse files. ShareFile is ostensibly aimed at bigger businesses, but I can’t imagine a 20-person business needing less than 20 GB!

The sales rep did say ShareFile offers up to 400 GB on its corporate plans. If $100 for 20 GB is what storage costs, you would be looking at something like $2,000 per month for 400 GB, which is a pretty paltry amount of storage for an enterprise.

By comparison, Dropbox for Teams offers unlimited storage starting at $795 per year.

One reason to use ShareFile: HIPAA

ShareFile does have at least one redeeming feature: it is HIPAA compliant. That makes it one of the only HIPAA-compliant filesharing and file-syncing services out there. Of course, if you have enough medical information that you think you are subject to HIPAA, ShareFile’s limited storage options will make it practically useless. Then again, you don’t have many other choices.

Since ShareFile and Dropbox have essentially the same features across the board, this just tells me there is no good reason why Dropbox isn’t HIPAA compliant, and it should get on that.