What is link sharing and how does it work?

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Sharing digital content with others is an essential part of our daily lives. From sending an interesting news article to a friend to showcasing your portfolio to a client, there are countless scenarios where link sharing is the quickest and most convenient way to share content. 

In this article, we explain what link sharing is and show you how to use it to transfer files and folders. We also cover some of the benefits of sending files this way and tips on choosing the best link-sharing app.

What is link sharing?

Link sharing allows you to share a digital file with someone else using a URL link. When you share a link with someone, your recipient can access the file on the cloud without you having to physically transfer it to them or send it as an email attachment.  

How does link sharing work?

Cloud storage providers, such as Proton Drive and Dropbox, let you store files in the cloud, making them accessible from anywhere as long as you have an internet-connected device.

When you upload a file to a cloud storage provider, it’s hosted and stored on your cloud provider’s servers. To share the file, all you need to do is generate a shareable link that you can send to your recipient via email, text message, or social media. When your recipient clicks on the link, they’ll be taken directly to the file, where they can view or download it, depending on the type of access permissions you’ve set for them.

Link sharing is an efficient way to share files quickly, especially if you’re dealing with large files that can’t be sent as email attachments. 

Examples of link sharing

Sending files with a sharing link is extremely useful. Here are some of the most common use cases:

  • Sharing a file with a coworker: If you need to send a large business file, such as a video or a presentation, you can upload the file to a cloud-based storage service and share the secure file-sharing link with your coworker.
  • Collaborating on a project: Online collaboration tools, such as Google Docs and Microsoft 365, allow you to share a file with team members, letting them view and edit it. 
  • Sending photos or videos to friends: Most email providers have limits to the size of the files you send as attachments. Emailing them a link to your file or folder is much simpler.
  • Sharing a file with many people: If you want to post a large file on social media, such as a video or PDF, an easy way is to upload the file to the cloud and share the link on your post.
Securely share your files with end-to-end encrypted links using Proton Drive

Benefits of link sharing

Convenient and easy to use

Rather than sending files as email attachments, link sharing allows you to quickly share files with others. You can easily share big files, such as high-resolution images and videos, with others without worrying about physical transfers or exceeding email attachment limits. 


With link sharing, you can share files with anyone anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. This makes it an ideal solution if you’re working remotely and need to collaborate with coworkers elsewhere. 

Controlled access

Link sharing gives you control over who can access your files. When you generate a secure file-sharing link, you ensure that only authorized individuals can access your files. You can also set extra privacy permissions for your link, such as an expiration date or a password.

Cost effective

Link sharing eliminates the need for expensive hardware, such as physical storage devices. With so many cloud-based storage services offering free and affordable plans, link sharing is a practical solution for individuals and businesses alike. 

How to choose a link-sharing app

There are many popular link-sharing services and apps available on the market, including Proton Drive, Google Drive, WeTransfer, and more. These platforms offer different features and benefits, so it’s important to consider your needs and preferences before picking one. 

Storage capacity

Most cloud storage providers offer up to 2 GB of free storage, which is sufficient if you’re only looking to store and send a couple of files. If you need to back up your files or keep your entire portfolio online, you will probably need to pay for a cloud storage subscription. 

Security features

Most link-sharing services offer robust security measures to protect your files and data from unauthorized access or theft. If security is your top concern, choose a cloud provider that offers end-to-end encryption (E2EE). E2EE protects your files by ensuring that nobody besides you and the person you’ve shared your file with can view them. Other security features to keep an eye out for are two-factor authentication and password protection for your files.


Look for link-sharing services that fit your budget and offer transparent pricing plans. Most services offer free plans with limited features, while others require paid subscriptions for full access to premium features and increased storage capacity. If you subscribe to an annual or two-year plan, you’re likely to enjoy a discount, too. 

User interface

No matter which device you use to access your cloud storage solution, the app should have an intuitive interface that ensures easy navigation. You should also be able to upload files and share links without much hassle. If you work on the go, consider picking a cloud storage provider that offers mobile apps. 

Offline file access

It’s not always possible to have a reliable internet connection. If you’re someone who travels frequently for work or simply would like access to your files at all times, pick a cloud provider that gives you offline access. This allows you to open and view your files even if you’re not connected to the internet.  

What is the best link-sharing app?

Different link-sharing apps offer different storage capacities and features, meaning there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But if you value your privacy and the integrity of your files, you should definitely look for a secure, end-to-end cloud provider like Proton Drive.

Built by the same makers of Proton Mail and Proton VPN, Proton Drive encrypts your files on your device before they’re uploaded to our servers in Switzerland. This ensures no one else, including Proton Drive or any third parties, can access your files without your permission. 

Additionally, we don’t just encrypt the content of your files — we also encrypt their metadata, including file and folder names, file extensions, file sizes, and more. Using our intuitive mobile apps (iOS(new window) and Android(new window)), you can also upload files on the go and make them available offline. 

You can get started with a free Proton Drive account (which gives you up to 1 GB of storage) or subscribe to any of our paid plans. But no matter which plan you choose, you can always:

  • Share files securely using password-protected links
  • Set time-sharing limits and revoke share access at any time 
  • Track file downloads and monitor any suspicious activity

When you subscribe to a paid plan, you’re also supporting our mission of building a better, more private internet.


Why do people use link sharing?

Because of its convenience, link sharing is one of the best ways to share files with others. Many link-sharing apps and platforms are also cloud storage providers, letting you store and access files from anywhere with an internet connection. It can help increase your productivity, collaborate easily with others, and streamline workflows.

What is a link-sharing app and do I need one?

A link-sharing app is any app that allows you to send large files using a URL link that you can send to your intended recipient via email or text. This link points to a copy of the file that’s stored in the cloud. Link-sharing apps are useful if you want to share files that are too big to attach to an email or text.

Some link-sharing apps, like Proton Drive, give you special security controls, like letting you protect your links with a password or set an expiration date on the link, to ensure your files stay safe.

How do I set up link sharing?

You don’t need to do anything special to set up link sharing. If you’re using a cloud storage provider, simply upload your file and select the share button. Your cloud provider will automatically generate a file-sharing link that you can send to others.

Keep your files private, share them securely
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Lisa Whelan

Lisa is an activist, writer, and internet privacy advocate. A defender of the right to privacy for people everywhere, Lisa joined Proton to spread awareness and further enable freedom online.

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