When I started working more than 23 years ago email attachments was the way to share files with others. Around the year 2007 a new innovative online service called Dropbox was created, and this started a change, allowing us to manage files “on the cloud”. Then other companies like Google with Google Drive, and Microsoft with OneDrive followed and offered a similar type of service. You could now store files online and Google even was the first one offering to work on these files directly from your web browser.
Advantages of using links to files instead of sending email attachments
Today we are in the year 2020 and working on files online is the new normal and there are many reasons for this:
- It drastically improves collaboration by being able to share a simple link of a file for others to access.
- When you send a file on an attachment, the file is already outdated from the moment you sent it, while if you send a live link to a file, you can update it and others can work on the same file at the same time.
- You can control who does what on each file by setting permissions. Only comment, only view, edit.
- You can see who is working on the files together with you, at the same time.
- It prevents confusion and saves time by having everybody working on the same version of the files.
- You can have multiple people add comments to a file, the comments will appear with their name and you as the owner of the file can see who commented what. Then you can choose to accept suggestions or reply comments directly through the platform interface. This significantly eases the whole revision process.
- You can open and edit files on a web browser or mobile device no matter where you are.
- When you work with online files, they are saved automatically, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to save.
- Last but not least, sharing files through links is much safer than attaching them to emails, as email are easier to hack than encrypted online services.
In my previous organization and for personal stuff (for more than 10 years now), I been using Google G Suite, a very similar service to what Google Drive offers for free but focused on organizations and with your own domain.
The current company I work for uses Microsoft Office 365 and it allows pragmatically similar functionalities to what Google G Suite does.
Office 365 offers collaboration spaces called Microsoft Teams, and a lot of organizations use this to work together on projects among colleagues. This is especially useful when people working on the same project are working from multiple locations, sometimes even in multiple countries.
Within Microsoft Teams, you can have a folder structure to store files that belong to the same project the team is working on. Using this common location to save all the files of the engagement helps to bring transparency and increase collaboration across the team.
Basically every member would know where to find what. Google offers something similar but its called Shared Drive.
I got it, sharing online links is better than sending attachments, but how does it work?
Fortunately Microsoft and Google both have very useful help sites to explain how to share files and folders with colleagues.
Check this link to learn how to share files on Microsoft Office 365. They made a nice short video explaining it too.
The Office 365 training center also has a ton of information that can help you get the most out of the tools you may be using.
Check this other link to learn how to share files and folders with Google Drive or G Suite.
Google also offers a learning center if you want to learn more about how to get the most out of their G Suite set of tools.
Tip: Considering using hyperlinks instead of pasting the whole link. A hyperlink is a link associated to text (like the ones I added above), these looks snappier than pasting just a link, which usually is very long and doesn’t look right.
On this article we went through the advantages of sharing files through links instead of sharing them as email attachments. Although most of the times this will work for you, sometimes you will still need to send a file as an attachment.
For instance when you share a proposal probably this will be done through PDF´s as email attachments.
But we are starting to see that companies are slowly opening the possibility to share files with people outside their organizations. By doing this they are enabling another level of collaboration with customers and partners, not anymore limited to people within the same company.
There are many more services than just Microsoft or Google, I just mentioned these two which are probably the most popular, Each of them with a different set of tools and offerings, you can learn more about other providers on this link.
What about you? Do you use file links or are you still using email attachments? Please share your thoughts below.
PS: If you liked this article, please share it so more people can benefit of it.