Dropcanvas Offers Up Free, Dead Simple File Sharing, But Can It Last?

There’s no shortage of robust, full-featured file storage and sharing services out there, but where do you turn when you want the quickest, simplest way to go? Crate costs money, JustBeamIt requires both users to be online at the same time, but newcomer Dropcanvas? They may be onto something.

The beauty behind Dropcanvas is that it requires virtually no thought or effort to use properly. Upon navigating to the site, users are told to drag and drop a file onto the page. Once a file has been dragged onto the so-called “canvas” — there’s no set file size limit though canvases are capped at 5GB — users are provided with a link to spread around and a share button for easy access to Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

That’s all there is to it. Users can register an account if they want to retain access to their canvases, but the service is just as useful for those looking to work with no names involved. We’ve seen drag and drop file sharing services before, Dropcanvas takes a delightfully pared-down approach here — there’s very little visual cruft, no extraneous features — it just works. Oh, and it’s totally free. The cheapskate in me really appreciates that.

Dropcanvas came about when co-creator Chris Newnham came up with the concept after trying to talk his aunt through the process of sharing her vacation photos with her friends. After discussing her issues with his friend Heath Axton, they decided to create a service simple enough for their mothers to be able to handle. I’d say they succeeded.

After sharing the service with their friends and family, the pair decided to take things to the next level by launching the public beta on Reddit two weeks ago, a process that temporarily brought the service to its knees. A few harried tweaking sessions later and the service seems to be running like butter, and over 18,000 users have used Dropcanvas since launch day.

Here’s the interesting bit though — the pair don’t have any plans to try and monetize the service. Instead, they’re looking at Dropcanvas as a means of contributing to the community.

“Our goal really is to keep the site as minimalist and simple as possible,” co-creator Heath Axton told me. “We feel like monetization would really get in the way of that.” That said, keeping an operation like this running requires funds, and while they’re not thrilled with the potential idea of running ads on the site, a donation box may come down the line.

As simple and as useful as the service is, one big question remains — how long will it last? With the ability to anonymously share files of any stripe comes the potential for abuse — just look at the whole MegaUpload fiasco. I’m told that users have been thoughtful about sharing their own content so far, but honestly, who knows how long that trend will continue? Neither of them wants the service to become the “next Pirate Bay” as they put it, and though they don’t want to have to police the site for infringing material, they say they’re committed to doing whatever it takes to keep the service around for users on the up-and-up. Here’s hoping it works out for them — I’ve ended up leaning on the service quite a bit lately, and it would be shame to see some unscrupulous users ruin it for the rest of us.