How do I share files and folders over a network?

Sharing files and folders over a network is an important task for businesses and organizations of all sizes, as it allows employees to access information quickly and work collaboratively. Sharing files over a network can be done in several ways, and each method has its pros and cons.

In this article, we will go over the different ways to share data over a network, their advantages and disadvantages, and the steps needed to configure a network for file sharing.

1. Local Area Network (LAN)

A local area network (LAN) is the most common way to share files and folders over a network. A LAN works by connecting computers or devices together within a limited area, such as a home or office. All the computers and devices on a LAN can access data stored on a central computer, or server, that acts as a hub.

The main advantage of a LAN is that it can provide fast and secure file transfers between computers. Setting up a LAN requires a network router, which will ensure that all devices on the LAN have access to one another. Additionally, most routers come with built-in security measures, such as firewalls, to further protect data on the network.

The main downside of a LAN is that it is limited to a small area, such as a home or office. This limits the number of people who can access the same files and folders at the same time. Additionally, setting up a LAN requires technical knowledge and equipment, which can make it costly to maintain.

2. Wide Area Network (WAN)

A wide area network (WAN) is similar to a LAN but is much larger in scope. While a LAN is limited to a home or office, a WAN can span multiple buildings, cities, states, or even countries. By connecting multiple local networks, a WAN allows users to access shared resources, such as servers and files, from any connected location.

The main advantage of a WAN is that it can provide secure file access to anyone located in different geographical locations. Additionally, since WANs use dedicated network infrastructure, they can provide faster and more reliable data transfers than other methods.

The main disadvantage of a WAN is that it can be expensive to set up and maintain, due to the amount of networking equipment and bandwidth needed for the connection. Additionally, many organizations require additional security measures for data sent over a WAN, which can add to the cost.

3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A virtual private network (VPN) is a secure network that is used to send and receive data between two or more computers over the Internet. It is typically used by businesses to provide employees with secure remote access to the company’s internal network.

The main advantage of a VPN is that it provides encrypted and secure access to a network, as well as protecting data from being monitored by third-parties. Additionally, since a VPN connection uses the same infrastructure as the Internet, it is usually more cost-effective than other options.

The main disadvantage of a VPN is that it can sometimes be difficult to configure, especially if the user is not familiar with networking technology. Additionally, some VPN connections may be slower than other file-sharing methods.

4. Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a popular way to share files and folders over the internet. Cloud storage services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, enable users to securely store and share data without having to purchase or configure any hardware or software.

The main advantage of cloud storage is that it is easy to set up and use, and does not require any technical knowledge. Additionally, most cloud storage services offer a range of features, such as automatic backups, file versioning, and access control, that make it easier to manage and share files.

The main disadvantage of cloud storage is the cost, as many services charge a monthly or yearly fee for storage and additional features. Additionally, since files are stored on the cloud provider’s servers, users may have to worry about privacy and security issues.


Sharing files and folders over a network can be done in several different ways, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some methods, such as local area networks, require specialized equipment and technical knowledge; while others, such as cloud storage, are much easier to set up and use. Ultimately, the choice of which method to use depends on the individual’s needs and budget.