Trusted by millions of site owners, WordPress proves the most popular CMS to build websites thanks to its simplicity and flexibility. Users without any coding knowledge can create a post or add an image without any hassle.
In terms of files, WordPress, by default, provides a Media Library for you to upload and store all images, videos, audios, and even documents. In fact, users need more than just saving files. It would be great if they can manage who will share files and how many downloads are available for each user.
To achieve that, it requires you to integrate with additional plugins to leverage your library to its full potential as well as kicking it up a notch. In this tutorial, we’ll put together the top 5 freemium plugins for you to manage your WordPress file sharing more efficiently. Before digging into details, let’s discuss some considerations when sharing and managing media files.
Considerations When Sharing and Managing Media Files
It’s useful when your images or videos become viral on the web. The more people view your files, the higher chance they visit the parent posts and read the content. This helps bring traffic to your site.
However, files serving commercial purposes like private product images or event pictures shouldn’t be available widely. You must pay attention to those who can have access as well as how many times they’re able to download. It’s necessary to have your important files saved in other storage apps too, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
Who Can Gain Access to Your WordPress Files?
As mentioned, some of your important files shouldn’t be visible to all types of visitors. To take one example, your hard-to-make intellectual products including music, designs, and eBooks must be viewed by the members or purchasers only. Those who don’t pay for them have no authorization to access them.
In addition to that, Google should not index and rank your files on search engines either. You’re trying to hide files on-site but it somehow gets indexed and shows up on image search results. Then, your effort to protect them becomes useless.
How Many Downloads Are They Able to Have?
Reality proves that some users pay for the digital product once and download them multiple times or share the download links with others to download them. As a consequence, you might lose a lot of revenue.
To prevent this, you have to restrict unlimited downloads by setting expiry based on time or numbers of downloads. Once the file expires, users find no ways to save them to their computers despite using any supporting downloaders.
Which Other Storages Can Your Files Be Saved in?
If you provide standard blog posts with several photos and a featured image, you might not notice that WordPress doesn’t allow too big-file-size. You’re required to find another place to move your files there. This happens when you own a photographic or a video website.
There are several storage options for you to choose from, for example, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Amazon S3, etc. Depending on specific purposes, you can decide which fits your business the best.
Top 5 plugins for WordPress file sharing and download management:
#1 Prevent Direct Access
Primarily serving as a media file protection plugin, Prevent Direct Access prevents unauthorized users from accessing your protected files. Once securing, the plugin locks the file’s original URL by redirecting users to a 404 not found page when opening it. And at the same time, it creates a protected link that online allowed users are enabled to access.
PDA doesn’t limit the number of files secured or the file types. This means that you can protect thousands of media files, from PNG, JPEG, ZIP to DOCX, PDF, MP3, and MP4. This best benefits digital product websites or e-learning forums.
Unlike other plugins which create another section to manage files, it lets you manage everything right in the Media Library. After you activate the plugin, it’ll show a protection popup for each file. You’re capable of deciding the custom-protected links for your file, when and how the link expires, as well as how many downloads it has.
Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge this plugin by the number of active installations it has. While it has only over 2 thousand free users, most users choose the plugin’s paid version instead of the free one due to its outstanding features and quick customer support service. As a result, the actual number would be much higher, for sure.
On top of that, PDA Gold supports all files stored in third-party storage connected with your WordPress sites like Dropbox or Amazon S3.
It’s possible for you to password protect your media files too, by integrating with the Password Protect WordPress Pro plugin. This helps add an additional security layer to your files. Users have to log in with the right role and then enter the correct password in order to open it.
#2 Shared Files for WordPress
Instead of touching your Media Library, Shared Files for WordPress creates a new section called Shared Files right after you install and activate the plugin. You need to add new files to this section to start managing and configuring. It’s the same with creating a new page or post. You’re enabled to add the file anywhere on your site via a shortcode.
In case you intend to offer multiple files at a time, simply group them into a category for users to download at once. It’s possible for you to upload files using FPT too.
One drawback of the plugin is that it requires you to upgrade to the Pro version to set the file loads and limitations.
#3 Simple File List
Simple File List assists you in providing a list of files in different statuses, either public or private to logged-in users. Similar to the previous plugin, it allows you to display files anywhere on your site using a shortcode that creates a download button.
There would be a File List section added to your WordPress admin navigation menu as soon as you activate the plugin. Simple File List impresses users with its ability to send out file links via emails.
The plugin benefits you in various ways. You can post and share files within an organization or with partners. For e-learning communities, it enables teachers to share learning materials with their students easily, from PDF books to training videos.
On top of that, Simple File List authorizes you to limit access to Admin and logged-in users. The thumbnail images will be auto-created for images and videos.
#4 Easy Digital Downloads
Receiving a 4.7-star rating, Easy Digital Downloads proves one of the best plugins to manage your media files in the Downloads section. Different from the others, the plugin works as an e-commerce solution for selling digital products by adding a shopping cart.
Out of the box, the plugin enables buyers to surf around the product catalog and complete the purchase process right on the checkout page. Users love WordPress Download Manager due to its reports of customer history as well as earnings, refunds, and sales. Over 60 thousand installations have proved that.
WordPress Download Manager is used around the words since numerous translated versions. Consumers can also pay for their products via PayPal and Amazon payment gateways.
#5 WordPress Download Manager
WordPress Download Manager handles your file uploads via a download page. Similar to Easy Digital Downloads, the plugin offers sales reports letting you track and control files you download from your WordPress sites.
You can add other security layers to your files such as password protection, user role access restriction, or download count per user limitation. It also supports captcha to block bots from hacking files.
The plugin authorizes you to drag and drop file uploads. What’s more, it integrates with other document viewers, from Doc to PDF and PowerPoint. As a result, you can offer numerous types of files for users. This feature best supports e-learning trainers when providing training materials.
Which Is Your File Sharing and Download Manager Plugin?
Managing file sharing plays a key role in protecting files and organizing your WordPress sites. It’s necessary to control who should have access to your images or how many time users can downloads.
There are hundreds of file sharing and management plugins available on the WordPress repository for you to choose from. Each comes with a set of benefits and shortcomings that can greatly affect an organization’s file management methods down the road.
While Prevent Direct Access plugin helps protect media files and unauthorized access, both Shared Files for WordPress and Simple File List plugins enable you to create download buttons anywhere on your site.
On the other hand, Easy Digital Downloads and WordPress Download Manager add shopping carts to your digital products like e-commerce solutions. They work with a lot of payment gateways to create the best checking experience for users.
So what is your decision? Let us know in the comment section below!