Looking for an online password protected file sharing system for a large number of clients

Posted on 2014-10-20
Last Modified: 2014-11-01
I am looking for a way to share files online with a large number of people.  For example we may have a client that has 400 locations and we would like each location to be able to access the PDF, Excel, or Tableau report we have created for them.  There should be a way to upload the entire list of clients with user names and passwords.  There should also be a way to automate the uploading of all 400 reports so that each user gets the correct report without having to spend an entire day manually uploading each report.

Other nice things to have:  Ideally we should be able to set permissions for whether each client can modify their file or not.  Other options that would be nice would be setting up permission hierarchies, so that a regional or divisional manager could view all the reports within their area.  Also a batch delete of all the users files could come in handy as well.

A solution that involves a little coding would be OK.  I have a degree in computer science from a long time ago, and occasionally code a bit in VBA and Python.

By the way, our website is a website, so a solution that involves a WordPress plug-in is an option.
Question by:marknlynn3
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LVL 70

Assisted Solution

by:Jason C. Levine
Jason C. Levine earned 250 total points
ID: 40392712
By the way, our website is a website, so a solution that involves a WordPress plug-in is an option.

You can do this with WordPress but it may be more work than you are willing to deal with to make it work properly.

What you really want is some sort of DMS (Document Management System).  Look into Alfresco Community Edition:

Author Comment

ID: 40393232
Thanks for your suggestion.  I'll check it out.  Would I be able to grant online access for users outside of our company with this software?

I'm looking for a solution that is as simple as possible.  So in addition to checking out Alfresco and some of the other Document Management Systems, I'm going to see whether one of the common file sharing programs, like Dropbox or Citrix ShareFile, could do what we need.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Jason C. Levine
ID: 40393261
Would I be able to grant online access for users outside of our company with this software?

Assuming the web server you install it on is world-accessible, yes.

I'm going to see whether one of the common file sharing programs, like Dropbox or Citrix ShareFile, could do what we need.

They should but with 400 possible users, the price is going to climb pretty quickly.  Most of the large commercial services charge on a per-user basis.
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LVL 33

Assisted Solution

by:Big Monty
Big Monty earned 250 total points
ID: 40394871
Microsoft SharePoint may be the perfect solution depending on how much you want to spend, and you can either host it locally or on their cloud

Author Comment

ID: 40398110
Jason, still looking at Alfresco, but it looks like it might be a little too complex to set up for us.

Big Monty, do you know if SharePoint Online would allow us to set up 400 users quickly, and have passwords assigned to each account?  I'm thinking of a CSV file that is uploaded with the user information including password.  We would also want regional managers to have access to a group of user accounts within their region.  Finally, would users need to have any special software installed to view their files and would they need to purchase a SharePoint Online account?

FYI - We had a look at Citrix ShareFile and it looks like it could meet most of our needs.  It looks like you can set up unlimited client users, which I'm assuming means those people would have read only access to the data, and could be set up with their own password protected area to download that data from.  The price would be about $100 per month, and we would only have around 20 gigs of storage, but our files are fairly small so that could work.  Any thoughts.
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:Big Monty
ID: 40402984
I don't know if SP allows you to import a user list, but everything else you described with setting up permissions, yes, it can do that.

Users would not need anything special on their end, just a browser

Accepted Solution

marknlynn3 earned 0 total points
ID: 40406791
We are going to go with Citrix ShareFile.  It looks fairly simple to set up, and I think it will meet our needs for now.  It allow users to login to view their reports from our website, and we can set up user names and passwords for all 400 users by uploading a CSV file with that information.  I think we will need to upload each user's reports to their account one at a time, but if so we can handle that for now.  I want to thank you both for your advice and will keep the other products in mind should they prove to be a better match to our needs in the future.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 40416965
The solution I found bests meets our needs at this time.  The other two recommended solutions seem like viable alternatives that could be worth exploring further in the future.

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