Sunday, November 17, 2013

Warning: If You Use 4Shared, Your Files are NOT Private

I signed up for a service called 4shared a while back.  They gave me some free online storage, and I thought it would be a good way to back up some of my files.  They also make it fairly easy to share files with other people.  I used it a couple times when my daughter used my camera to take pictures of apartments she was thinking of renting.  It was an easy way to share the pictures with her once I got them off the camera.

I also uploaded some of my music, probably 5 or 6 CDs - so I could listen to the music from other locations if I needed or wanted to. 4shared has tools to play, share, and even embed music files, so I could even use some music in my blog posts if I wanted to.

That's kind of fun, I guess.  The problem is - I've realized that the files I've uploaded to 4shared are not private at all, and I don't mean the files that I've actually shared, like the pictures I shared with my daughter.  I mean any and all of my files.  How did I realize this?  I started getting emails from 4shared telling me that some of my files were infringing on someone else's copyright.  And then I noticed that people were commenting on my files - files they never should have been able to see in the first place.  What??

The 4shared site says, "If you don't want your file to be seen by everyone, you should share your link confidentially, with certain people only. As the link is generated securely, it is absolutely impossible to access the file."  Which, I guess, would apply to shared files, but what about files that haven't been shared?  Apparently just having them in my account means that they're fair game to anyone - unless I choose to put a password on each and every folder or file, above and beyond the sign in and password that I already use to sign into the site.  (because it's only "absolutely impossible" to access the shared files with securely generated links)

Protect your shared folder with password:

You can protect your shared folder from unauthorized access by setting a password on it. To set a password for a folder, please log into your account, open a folder and right-click on the folder name in the directory tree on the left. Select the "Sharing and Security" command. You will be taken to the page where you need to select the "Share this folder" option and tick "Add password" in the "Link and Security" section. Type a chosen password in the "Password" and "Confirm password" fields. Note that both fields are case sensitive, so you should type absolutely the same password twice. Click on the "Save changes" button to complete setting the password.
Now, I don't know about you, but it seems to me that, unless I choose to share my files, those files should not be visible to anyone else.  Apparently, with 4shared, they are visible to everyone else, unless I choose to add a password.  And about that copyright infringement - if uploading music files, for my own personal enjoyment, is not acceptable, then those tools to play and embed those same music files should not be offered.  Should they?

Never mind, I'll just use Google Play to back up and enjoy my music online and from anywhere, and I'll back-up my files to Copy from now on - where I can share with just the people I choose and not the whole entire world.  (Feel free to use my link to sign up for Copy yourself.  We'll both even get additional free storage)