Which Way to Transfer Files Is the Safest One?

There are plenty of ways to transfer files for various purposes, both personal and professional. However, as soon as you decide to put up your files for download, you’re introducing several cybersecurity risks that you may not have thought about. With that in mind, what are your options when it comes to file transfer online?

1. Snapchat

The popular chat program comes with an option to send photos that self-destruct after a set period of time. However, this is only true in theory. In practice, the recipient might as well take a screenshot of the photo before it self-destructs. While the app does notify you about it, it’s not of any help if you want to use the feature as it was intended. Furthermore, there is a copy of the image that’s stored on Snapchat’s servers for archival purposes. So whenever you’re using Snapchat, you need to be aware of these things and decide whether you’re comfortable with them or not.

2. pCloud

Which Way to Transfer Files Is the Safest One

If you don’t want to send an attachment through email, pCloud is a great way to get the job done. Some email providers like Gmail limit the total size of attachments per email to 20 MB, which is sometimes not enough to transfer everything you’d like in one go. With pCloud, there are no known limitations. It’s a good thing that the platform is accessible from any operating system of your choice. Now, for the drawback; there is no encryption unless you purchase a $4.99 monthly subscription. But either way, the files you upload automatically self-destruct after a certain period of time, so there’s no need to babysit them.

3. Email

Ah, the good old email. It’s been around for decades, and everyone knows how to use it. It allows you to send text messages and attach files for the recipient to see. There’s just one problem; the contents may get intercepted on the way if you’re not careful enough. If you’re connecting to the internet through a risky hotspot, this is exactly what might happen. There are multiple ways on how to deal with the problem. The first option is to use a VPN (a virtual private network). If you do, no one will be able to snoop on the files and messages you exchange with another person because all the traffic you send or receive will be routed through an encrypted tunnel. The second option is to encrypt the attachments themselves. This, however, does not protect the content of the messages. Also, you’ll need to find a way to get the password to the recipient separately.

4. OTR

Linux users are more than aware of Pidgin, a messaging platform that often comes pre-installed on the OS. It’s cross-platform too, so it’s easy to chat with someone who’s using a different OS. The best part about it is OTR (off the record) messaging feature. It encrypts all the messages that get sent from your machine, so you don’t have to worry about man-in-the-middle attacks. But again, if messing with extra plugins is not your cup of tea, you can also choose to always use a VPN while you’re chatting online, which is another great way of making sure that no one is intercepting your messages.


Are you an old-school type who loves to fiddle around with servers? Then SFTP is another option in your arsenal. It’s like FTP, but with an extra bit of security added on top of it. Still, to utilize it for file transfer, you’ll need a server first. Getting one just for that purpose and leaving it sitting is probably a waste of your resources, not to mention the fact it requires a little bit of technical knowledge to set up. But if you already have a server available, you might as well utilize it for sending files. Obviously, the risk here is that anyone can access the files you uploaded as long as they know the exact URL. Moreover, if hackers get inside your hosting account, they will obtain access to everything you’re storing there.


In the end, no way of transferring the files online is 100% secure. But if you learn the risks associated with each of the options, you can mitigate them and choose a method of transfer that works best for the situation at hand.


Leave a Comment