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Share Small Business Files the Easy Way (Instead of Using FTP)

If you work in IT at a small or medium sized business you understand the importance of easily sharing files, both large and small, with customers or other members of the organization. The problem is that FTP is insecure and managing it can be painful.

The solution is a hosted service called Single Wrench that provides you an encrypted, fully managed system that can be easily accessed with a web browser. They also provide advanced features like quotas and notifications, with a flexible pricing model where you pay for what you use.

Note: You can also read more about the differences between Single Wrench and FTP from their website. Update: Single Wrench is now called HostedFTP.

Using SingleWrench

For a simple “how-to” we will walk through uploading files to the site.  After the accounts are set up and you log in, you are greeted with an easy to navigate user interface.  To start simply click on Upload files.

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The first time you will get a tutorial on the steps to follow and basic information about installing the Java Applet.  You can check the box near the bottom of the screen to stop this appearing every time and click Continue.

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After the Java applet has been installed you will get an easy to follow toolbar. Click the Open button.

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This opens the Java explorer where you can browse to the directories and files you want to up load (of course you can also drag and drop as well).

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After you have selected the files the names and file sizes will be shown on the Single Wrench screen, just click the Start button.

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You will be shown the progress as the files are uploaded. You can stop the upload if needed.

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Another successful upload!  From here you can browse your files or close the screen.

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There are several other noteworthy features of the Single Wrench service to look at.  They make it very easy to browse through files with a Windows Explorer type set up.

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The search feature is very nice when multiple files start accumulating.

Searching for files

On the Administration side I had an easy time setting everything up through the easy to use wizards.  Managing users and providing individual rights is easy and a straight forward process as well.

Managing users (Group Edition)

The President of Single Wrench, Daniel Frank, was kind enough to take time out of his busy days to answer some questions for us.

Let’s start with your position or title at Single Wrench and how long have you been working there?

“My position at Single Wrench is President and I’ve been involved as founder for 2 years now bringing our service to market. After little more than 6 months of development we decided to include a user group to help guide us in the design of Single Wrench. With over a year of feedback from users we’re very confident in the feature set we offer.

The demand we saw in the market was to create a business focused FTP replacement that hit on all the important aspects of web services; namely a subscription billing model, web driven interface, support for multiple users, and no hardware or software to manage. In other words, a complete outsourced file sharing solution for businesses. ”

What kind of background do you have proceeding up to launching Single Wrench?

“I have been involved in several technology startups over the years, including a stock photography search engine and an online platform to manage truck fleets. Each of these opportunities were subscription based online services, at a time when there were few alternatives being offered as online services in those markets. So I’ve been part of several “software as a service” businesses in the past and have seen acceptance towards that business model grow quite significantly over time. ”

What is your vision for Single Wrench? What do you see it as now and how would you like to see it in future years?

“Our vision is to provide a secure, reliable and easy to use file sharing solution for businesses that will save them money while improving their network security. Single Wrench allows businesses to replace FTP servers, which are expensive to maintain and lack security, or other ad-hoc file sharing systems that employees might use.

The emergence of cloud computing, where hardware and network infrastructure are provided as a service to companies, is key to our future plans. Early on we realized the potential of having a file sharing solution such as Single Wrench working together with other services being offered “in the cloud” to provide a full featured suite of online services for businesses. Ultimately, businesses will be able to reduce the need to manage complex and expensive technology infrastructures once cloud computing reaches maturity.”

For businesses “on the fence” about adopting the Single Wrench service what assurances can you give them? Do you guarantee uptime? Is the data truly safe? Is there redundant backup at your location?

“When offering businesses a file sharing solution the focus has to be on security, reliability and ease of use. As mentioned earlier, we operate 100% in the cloud computing infrastructure hosted by Amazon Web Services. This means that Single Wrench uses the same secure and reliable network infrastructure that Amazon.com uses on a day to day basis.

Our files are stored using S3 (Simple Storage Service), Amazon’s secure and redundant file storage service. Our website is powered with servers from EC2 (Elastic Computing Cloud), Amazon’s scalable and reliable computing platform. S3 guarantees 99.99% uptime, along with fully redundant physical storage of files across the multiple data centers that Amazon manages.

In fact, it would probably surprise a few of your readers that Single Wrench does not own any of the hardware used to run our service, quite an amazing feat for a file sharing business that you would typically assume has a significant infrastructure in place. It’s this outsourcing of our infrastructure that allows us to say with confidence that files stored with Single Wrench are safe and available at all times. ”

Is there anything else you would like to add or explain to our readers?

“We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for businesses to give Single Wrench a try. This means having different Editions (Personal, Group and Enterprise) to ensure a perfect fit for businesses of any size, along with a simple pricing model that we characterize as ‘use what you need, pay for what you use’. Our approach makes Single Wrench a very compelling service to replace FTP servers for business.

There are lots of alternatives for file sharing offered today, I’d like to finish by emphasizing that our focus is on the business market, not the consumer. We generate no revenue from advertising and because of this can create a product experience that is second to none. This means zeroing in on what matters most – saving businesses money and helping to improve their network security. ”

Pricing

Single Wrench charges $5 per average 1 GB stored on their servers, which means that if you uploaded a big file to temporarily transfer to somebody you wouldn’t be charge for that amount of storage for the entire month.

Here’s a graph from their pricing page that explains it pretty well:

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Single Wrench allows 10GB of free downloads for every 1GB uploaded in a given month, after which an account is charged $0.50/GB. The reason this restriction is in place is to deter “abusive accounts” – users trying to distribute video.

There’s also a minimum monthly storage charge based on the type of account you create, whether personal, group or enterprise edition.

Conclusion

The more I use Single Wrench the more I really enjoy it.  It is surprisingly fast, and simple to use through an attractive user interface.  Since they’re able to guarantee 99% uptime via S3 network and redundant backup I felt my data is safe.

All that is required for Single Wrench to work is a web browser that can run Java Applets.  This makes the service perfect for office’s with mixed OS environments.

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If you are interested in using Single Wrench, we’ve created a coupon code that can be used at checkout to save you 20% from your order. You can use the code MYG or just click the following link to visit the site and apply the coupon code automatically.

Visit Single Wrench

Editor’s Note: This is a review of a non-free service. This is not a sponsored review and we make no money from the coupon code, we just happen to like this product and had the opportunity to also provide our readers with a discount. We believe in full disclosure and will not recommend something without having personally used the product.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/14/08

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