As you probably know, Scribd is a popular document-hosting website, and if someone wanted to share a PDF file online, chances are they would upload it on Scribd. However, its interface and restrictive features, like paywall and required sign-up to download files, have been making a lot of people unhappy. Since Scribd is modifying its business model to become a “Netflix for books,” maybe it’s time to consider some Scribd alternatives. Luckily, there are more than enough to choose from. Some are simple and offer only basic file upload, while others provide a complete PDF hosting and reading experience.
PDFy is the simplest and fastest of all tools on this list. It was created specifically because the developer disliked Scribd and wanted to make something free and easy to use, thus PDFy lets you upload and download PDF files for free, without registration. For each uploaded file, there’s a link that lets you share the file and embed code if you want to incorporate the file into a website. You can also live-preview uploaded files in your browser.
The toolbar on top lets you navigate through the file, zoom, rotate and print the file, and switch to either full-screen or presentation mode. Still, there’s a slight problem with PDFy. Due to it being a project in development, it is currently impossible to upload files directly from the website. Instead, you have to email the files to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will be uploaded manually.
PdfSR was previously known as PDFcast, and it’s another tool created with simplicity in mind. This PDF hosting service lets you choose whether you want to register for an account or just upload files without one (though it will ask for a name and email, which won’t be displayed). Registered users get a few perks, like protecting the file, making it private, and deleting published files.
The Search function lets you find documents by keyword, and you can also browse all uploaded files by user (if they are public), as well as view similar documents for each file you preview. In the preview mode, the social dimension of PdfSR is the most prominent because here you can favorite files, comment on them, and share them on social media. You can also subscribe to authors by email, effectively “following” them, to be updated when they publish something new. Another great thing about PdfSR is that you can embed any public document on your website – just click the button and get the code.
Hashdoc is aimed at people who share a lot of work-related PDF files. Uploaded documents are tagged by topics and categorized by type (Research, Whitepapers, Presentations…). This makes it easier for anyone to find files. Apart from PDF, Hashdoc supports other formats (DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, TXT, XLS…).
However, to upload or download files, you’ll need an account. It’s also possible to get paid for the documents you share, but this requires that you first pay a fee. Otherwise you’ll just be collecting Karma points (just like on reddit) when people engage with your free documents.
Previewing files is quick and smooth, and Hashdoc is similar to online presentation tools in this respect. There’s a sidebar menu (which can be expanded or iconified) in which you access your profile options, and the options for each file are on the right side of the screen. Here you can see related documents, stats and information about the file, and add comments.
Calameo is primarily an online publishing platform, so if you’ve ever wanted to create your own digital magazine, it’s perfect for you. Of course, you can upload anything, but you’ll need to sign up for an account. The free version lets you upload files up to 100 MB in size and 500 pages per document, to a total storage of 15 GB, which should be enough. You can also set files as private, embed them on your website and share them on social media. Your publications can contain media, like videos from YouTube and Vimeo, or audio clips from Soundcloud.
To load files in your browser, Calameo uses Flash. The viewer offers three reading modes and a full-screen mode, as well as a table of contents for easier navigation. The search function lets you find files by description and title, but you can also look within each file from the viewer. A cool feature in the search results is the option to sort files by language. Calameo supports several file types, including PDF, DOC and DOCX, ODT, PPT, ODP, TXT, XLS, and ODS.
We’re back to basics with DocDroid, a simple and free file upload service with optional registration. You can upload multiple files with just a few clicks, and supported formats include PDF, DOC and DOCX, ODT, TXT, and PPT. It’s possible to password-protect the files, and registered users can delete their files (which are otherwise deleted after 60 days without activity).
The file viewer lets you see document properties and print the document directly from the browser. You can select which pages to print or just save the file in a selected format. The only social component of DocDroid is the fact that you can share links to your files on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. It’s not possible to search for other users’ files or view their profiles, which makes DocDroid a great choice for people who want to preserve at least a bit of privacy when sharing files online.
If you don’t need any special features, you can always host your PDF files on Google Drive or Dropbox. There are other online publishing platforms, like Issuu, which can double as PDF hosting services. For fast and hassle-free file uploads, PDFy and DocDroid are the best choices from this list.
What other PDF upload services would you recommend? Tell us about them in the comments.