Update: The government of India has lifted the ban, but the specific date for lifting the ban is not known. But the alternatives and the resources mentioned in this post remain as valid as they did when I had published this article. If you do not want to read about the ban and its impact, you can skip to the section Alternatives to WeTransfer directly.
Introduction: Ban on WeTransfer
On May 31 2020, several news sites in India began to report that ISPs in India had begun blocking the file sharing service WeTransfer. This was a result of an order from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or TRAI. The question arises, what are the alternative file sharing services like WeTransfer?
The core issue behind this was an order dated May 18th, which recommended blocking the service citing “national security and public interest.”
As on June 2, 2020- the day I am publishing this post, WeTransfer is still available on some internet networks. VPN or Virtual Private Networks of course allow you to access the service without any hiccups. But that may not be the case with everyone, and it is likely that the ban may have an impact over the long run.
Ban and its impact
Many businesses, freelancers, and individuals use services such as Wetransfer to exchange files across offices or continents. Such services offer speed, convenience, and in some cases, privacy. We will discuss the features of such services in detail below. But here is a real life (and recent) example:
We are working with a new audio editor for editing episodes for Baalgatha podcast. The editor had completed their work and wanted to send the files over to us. He sent us a message on WhatsApp, asking if he could send files via WeTransfer. The below image tells the rest of the story. We use a different tool, Koofr, for managing our media files. You can read about it in the backstory section at the end of this post.
File sharing services like WeTransfer
As soon as the news about the blockage was published, many publications posted articles like “3 alternatives to WeTransfer”. You can read a couple of them here and here. But they mostly cite the usual suspects: Google Drive and Dropbox, with only one real alternative each, Firefox send and Smash. However, the list is much bigger. Below I have included a much more comprehensive list of sites that can be good alternatives to WeTransfer.
The Long List of alternative file sharing services like WeTransfer
Ezybox is a free service that offers transfer of files via web browser and an Android app. Using AES-256 encryption, Ezybox encrypts the files. Maximum file size is 5 GB, and you can upload or share multiple files. The files are stores for 7 days. Signing in offers greater control, such as showing past links, adding or removing files, and customising the logo for download page.
Highlights: SendGB does not require you to register in order to send files. The upper limit of file size is 5 GB, that is, you can send files upto 5 GB in size. You can upload multiple files, but not folders. In order to share a folder, you will have to zip it before uploading. SendGB encrypts the files, a single link is shareable with 20 people, and password protection is optional.
Free version: File size has a limit of 6GB with your family. Files stay ‘live’ for 3 weeks.
Update: Firefox Send has been discontinued as on Sept 17, 2020. Read the announcement from Mozilla.
Alternative to Wetransfer: Other File Sharing Services
pCloud is a cloud storage service that allows sharing and transfer of files.
Update Sept 2020: pCloud also has a service called pCloud Transfer, which allows you to send upto 5 GB of files without having to register.
SafeNote is a service that provides encrypted messaging and file transfer.
You can generate time-bound or single access links, to send files upto 5 files of 20 MB each.
I checked out SafeNote in a couple of ways : sending a test message to myself, and uploading a test file. I had set the file transfer to a “single use” mode, that is, it could be accessed only once. When I tried using the same link a second time, I got the below message:
Filepizza Allows transfer of files through the browser itself
Wesendit offers features similar to WeTransfer.
Uplovd allow 20 GB of files, and I liked that they have a page in Hindi. Upvold is from the same folks who developed Piratebay. Bute now they also offer a file sharing service called Bayfiles. You may notice that their interfaces are quite similar.Update December 2020: I will do a detailed review of Meerodrop separately.
Plik File Transfer
Plik is a file transfer servie that offers some intersting features such as commenting, manually removing files from the server (once they have been uploaded) and more.
“Open OnionShare, drag and drop files and folders into it, and click “Start Sharing”. A secret .onion URL such as-onionshare website
http://asxmi4q6i7pajg2b.onion/egg-cainwill be presented for you to share.”
Self Hosted Alternatives to WeTransfer
Services like Owncloud, Nextcloud, Projectsend and Pydio can also offer ways to share files. Also Seafile (thanks user vimalware on Lowendspirit blog for the suggestion). In the community edition of seafile, unregistered users can upload to a password-protected folder.
If You Prefer the Command Line
This post lists the following options:
Update Sept 21, 2020:
I was sending some files as an email attachment using Thunderbird email client this morning. The email client sent an alert that the attachment file size was large, and asked me if I wanted to create an email link instead.
The Knowledge Base (KB) for Firefox/ Thunderbird notes the following about Thunderbird Filelink:
Services such as
Pydio (formerly AjaXplorer)
DL for Thunderbird
Last but not least, you can use Filelink with a WebDAV server with the WebDAV for Filelink add-on. As per the KB page, DL may be the best if you prefer using your own server instead of relying on third-party providers. You can also use th elink for Owncloud
Sept 26, 2020: Appsumo has a deal for Connected, which is a file transfer service.
Swisstransfer is a free service that enables you to send upto 50 GB of files, multiple times a day. Filemail is a Premium service, with plans starting at 5 US Dollars a month.
Update Nov. 4, 2020
- Added Dropbox Transfer.
The base plan (free tier) for Dropbox Transfer only allows 100 MB of transfer, in the pair tier you can transfer upto 100 GB. Sender has to log into the account.
- Send Anywhere (Send Anywhere Plus is the paid or premium tier of this service, which will get closed. The Free Tier will continue, the paid users are encouraged to move the Sendy cloud)
- Blackhole, which is a Blockchain based file transfer service. It has Mac and Windows apps available, and the freet tier allows you to use “unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage” feature. A blockstack account is required to login and send files.
Update December 2020
Added the following services:
- Fileroom.io (Sharing files between users anonymously)
- Datash (sendign files with end to end encryption)
- ysendit (donations welcomed by developers)
- Surge Send
- Toffee Share
- Instashare by Digiboxx