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Beware! 5 Pitfalls of Online File Converters

Updated Jun 30, 2022
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DXF to PDF Layers Visual Just Google “convert PDF to DXF” (or any two file formats you’d like to convert to and from) and you’ll be presented with many online file converters. These websites make fancy promises too – “Just upload your file and we’ll get your converted file back within 5 minutes! No need to install any software on your computer!” But wait – could something so good really be true? Before you go with an online solution, remember the risks that you may be exposing your files to. In the section below, we’ve discussed the 5 most common pitfalls/risks of online file converters.

5 Risks of Online File Converters

1. Safety

First and foremost, can you trust the website? Online file converters require you to upload your file onto their server, and then download the converted file few minutes later. Unfortunately, this exposes you to the possibility of downloading viruses and trojans onto your computer or business server. Also, please be especially wary if the website asks for your email address. That opens you up to unwanted emails from their service! Worse yet, it’s hard to tell the good sites from the bad. It really can be a minefield.

Want to make sure your files and system are safe and secure? Find out why downloading a Scan2CAD crack could compromise your security.

2. Quality

There’s a project management triangle that explains the constraints of any project – time, cost and quality. You can only pick two of these attributes, and it is not possible to optimize all three. If you choose a conversion process that’s fast and free/cheap, it’s likely that it’ll result in a file that’s not of very high quality. File converters also differ in the methods that they use. Raster-to-vector converters need to trace the image and turn it into vector objects. However, some online tools simply encode the image in simpler formats or make a lousy conversion.

This problem is even more apparent in raster-to-vector conversion, which is a technically difficult process. Good software can tell when to use arcs over Bezier curves, how to optimize the number of grab points, and so on. Poor file conversion software does not. Here’s an example of shoddy work produced by an online file converter.

Scan2CAD Convert PDF to DXF - Text conversion using OCR

On the left is CAD text that’s converted using Scan2CAD. On the right is text converted using another program, which hasn’t been reassembled into logical sentences very accurately.

Convert Raster Circle to vector

Here’s another example. On the left, Scan2CAD has converted a circle shape into a perfect circle vector. On the right, another conversion software has joined many short vector lines to form a circular shape. The latter is a pain to edit!

3. Privacy

Sure, all online file converters boast high levels of safety and reliability. “Don’t worry, we’ll delete your files as soon as your conversion is finished.” Personally, I’d take such claims with a pinch of salt. The privacy issue is especially important if you’re working with sensitive and private design files. You can use these online converters if you can afford to have your file seen by others. At the very least, please make sure that the website does not store, retain or backup files on its server.

4. Large File Sizes

Most online file converters don’t support large file sizes. The typical file size limit is around 50-100MB. There are also other service-level agreements (SLAs) that you have to adhere to when choosing these file conversion websites, such as number of files that you can convert through the service or number of conversion minutes each user can use per day. Since these services are mostly free, the developers must impose such conditions to keep their site up and running.

5. Features Available

There are some features that are only available on premium software, such as batch conversions. If you had a large number of files that you wanted to convert all at once, it’d be a huge pain to upload them to an online converter one at a time. Other features that are scarcely available on online converters include optical character recognition, cleaning and editing tools, and support resources.

Scanned PDF to DXF to uploaded for editing with CAD software: PDF to DXF File Conversion

Scan2CAD comes with a complete suite of raster and vector editing tools


Top 6 Online File Converters

Indeed, online file converters are a convenient solution, especially if you need to convert a file quickly. And although the risks listed above can be a cause for concern, there are a few decent solutions on the internet. And we have scoured the internet, with our efforts resulting in a comprehensive list of the top online file converters using which you can escape the common pitfalls above.

To further boost convenience, accessibility, and user experience, some of the developers of these online file converters package them as browser extensions. Using such extensions, users who’ve added these tools to their web browsers do not have to look for online converters whenever they wish to convert a file. Instead, they only have to click the converter’s icon on their browser. Our list includes some online converters that are not only website-based but also include a browser extension. 

1. Zamzar

Zamzar has been in the conversion business since 2006. Over the interim, the developer has built trust with both individuals and companies, promising security and privacy. Zamzar is available as a free converter, but, of course, this free tier comes with a few limitations. For instance, you can only convert a maximum of 2 files every 24 hours. Furthermore, you can only upload files that are less than 1 megabyte in size.

You can, however, circumvent these restrictions by choosing a paid tier. As a subscriber, you can convert as many files as you want per day. In short, Zamzar gives its paying customers unlimited conversions. Subscribers can also convert large files; for instance, the basic tier, which is the cheapest, allows users to convert files that are up to 200 megabytes in size – more on the various pricing plans below.

Zamzar’s conversion services are also available via a desktop app to accommodate users who prefer offline solutions. The app works with both Windows and macOS. You can convert up to 25 files (in total) for free using this solution. The only drawback is that you still need an internet connection to use the desktop app.

Zamzar Pricing Tier

Free

Basic

Pro

Business

Price per month

$0.00

$9.00

$16.00

$25.00

Maximum file size

50MB

200MB

400MB

2GB

Website conversions per day

2

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Privacy and Security

Zamzar also emphasizes privacy, noting that it is fully compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It also requires paying customers to consent to the data processing agreement. For users of its free service who do not have to sign the data processing agreement, Zamzar deletes stored and compressed files after 24 hours. And if paying customers opt out of the service, Zamzar deletes the stored files 35 days after cancelation.  

2. CloudConvert

Munich, Germany-based online file converter CloudConvert was founded in 2012 with a vision to “build a swiss army knife for file conversions.” The versatile converter supports virtually all presentation, spreadsheet, image, archive, ebook, document, video, archive, vector, and audio formats, allowing you to convert from one of these formats to another. In total, CloudConvert supports more than 200 formats, including .dwg and .dxf. Sporting an intuitive user interface, wherein the top section of the homepage lets you select the formats you wish to convert from and to.

CloudConvert’s support for such a vast array of formats as well as high-quality conversions is not by fluke. The converter uses open-source software backed by partnerships with different software vendors. These partnerships ensure that the converter provides its users with the best conversion results. And to further guarantee the quality of the conversion, the converter lets you adjust various settings.

Privacy and Security

Quality is not the only aspect that CloudConvert takes seriously. Security and privacy are equally important considerations. As such, the company behind CloudConvert, Lunaweb GmbH, “relies on trusted cloud service providers with the highest security standards such as AWS.” In addition, Lunaweb designed its infrastructure and software in such a way that each conversion is carried out in a separate, isolated container. This data isolation ensures that not even the CloudConvert team can access customers’ files.

What about storage security? CloudConvert has verily considered this aspect. Files are only stored for processing; they are erased immediately afterward. As such, CloudConvert does not offer any permanent storage.

You can enjoy all these capabilities for free. The free plan gives you access to up to 25 conversions per day. That said, you have to pay a one-time fee or subscription to convert more files per day. CloudConvert bases its pricing on a base-minute model whereby CloudConverts estimates the time it would typically take to complete a conversion. The company then uses this estimate as a predictable basis to price its services. Even so, 95% of the conversions only take a few seconds. Visit this page for more information.

3. AnyConv

Like CloudConvert, AnyConv is a Germany-based converter founded by Lothar Schwarz. It is a 100% free online file converter trusted by over 60,000 daily users. AnyConv supports multiple file formats, including image, document, archive, video, audio, ebook, mesh, CAD, and font. According to the website, the converter supports more than 400 file formats.

Under the CAD category, AnyConv supports .dwg, .dxf, .dwf, .dgn, and .scad formats. A .dwg file, for example, can be converted to .aiff, .bmp, .cgm, .dgn, .dwf, .dxf, .eps, .gif, .hgl, .jpg, .kml, .kmz, .obj, .pdf, .plt, .png, .psd, .shp, .stl, .svgz, .tab, tga, .tif, .tiff, .wmf, .xlsx. You can also convert a variety of file formats, including .dgn, .dwf, .dxf, .jpg, .png, .shp, .pdf and .svg, to .dwg.

Privacy and Security

While AnyConv is a free platform, its developers strive to safeguard security and privacy. Besides conforming to the guidelines stipulated in the EU GDPR and the California Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA), AnyConv takes a few measures to protect users’ files. Firstly, AnyConv deletes all input and temporary files immediately after file conversion. Secondly, it deletes all output files 1 hour after the conversion.

Other notable features and capabilities of AnyConv include:

  • The ability to convert files on any mobile device with a web browser
  • Cross-platform functionality as it is web-based
  • Users can convert up to 60 files per hour
  • The file size is limited to 100MB

4. Convertio

Convertio is an online converter that lets users convert files to any format. This browser-based solution supports over 25,600 combinations of conversions between more than 300 distinct file formats. Convertio promises first and easy conversion, with the platform aiming to complete all conversions in under 1-2 minutes.

While Convertio is primarily an online solution, users can revel in the convenience offered by its browser extension. The Chrome extension lets them access all conversion services at the touch of a button, eliminating the need to search for an online converter on search engines whenever you want to convert a file. Instead, all you have to do is click the Convertio icon on your browser to open the application, which is integrated into the browser.

Privacy and Security

Convertio considers the safety of its users’ files, taking all precautionary measures to safeguard their data. For one, the platform deletes all input and temporary files immediately after conversion. It then deletes all output (converted) files after 24 hours. The platform, nonetheless, allows you to delete the output files at any time.

Secondly, Convertio uses highly secure, trusted cloud service providers that meet the Information Security Standard. And like CloudConvert, this online file converter practices data isolation. Additionally, users of the free tier do not have to create an account as long as they do not exceed the limitations. This means these users do not have to share their personal information, such as their email addresses.  

5. 2PDF

Though the name may give the illusion that this online file converter is only designed to convert files to PDF format, 2PDF can convert PDFs to other file formats. For instance, you can convert CAD file formats such as .dwg, .dxf, and .dgn to .pdf, and vice versa. In addition, it blends other capabilities, such as the ability to edit, compress, merge, split, and extract pages and PDFs, creating a powerful online tool. Available for free or via several paid plans, 2PDF’s services are 100% cloud based, meaning you do not have to install an application or software.

The online conversion is straightforward and fast, with 2PDF promising to instantly convert the file following an upload. The platform also enables you to export the converted file to Google Drive or Dropbox.

Privacy and Security

Like all the other online file converters listed above, 2PDF safeguards security and privacy by deleting the input files immediately after conversions, with the converted files being deleted after 24 hours.

6. Online-Convert

Developed by Germany-based QaamGo Media GmbH, Online-Convert is a 100% online file converter also available as a Chrome browser extension. And though the website notes that Online-Convert is a free online file converter, the service limits some of its capabilities to non-paying customers, availing them to paying users instead.

Nonetheless, even non-paying customers, who must have an account, enjoy the platform’s comprehensive services, albeit to an extent. Online-Convert accepts large file sizes, up to 100MB per file, for the free package. Furthermore, this online file converter limits the number of conversions non-paying users can undertake within 24 hours to three. These users can also only convert a maximum of three files per conversion.

To do away with these restrictions, customers can instead opt to pay. There are three pricing tiers available, including a 24-hour pass, a monthly subscription, and a yearly subscription. The various capabilities available to the paying customers are summarized in the table below.

Online-Convert Pricing

Free

24-hour pass

Monthly subscription

Annual subscription

Price

$0.00

$8.99*

$8.00*

$77.00*

Validity

Any time

24 hours

1 month

1 year

Conversion speed

Normal

High priority

Highest priority

Highest priority

Maximum conversions per 24 hours

3

250

250

250

Files per conversion

3

200

200

200

*Price changes based on the selected total file size per conversion (the figures indicated represent the amount paid for a 1GB, 200MB, and 200MB total file size for the 24-hour pass, monthly, and yearly subscription, respectively)

Online-Convert supports numerous file formats, with others being added every day. The categories of the file formats include raster images, vector images, document, audio, video, eBook, CAD, presentation, spreadsheet, database, archive, website, executables, and more. The supported CAD formats are: .dxf, .dwf, .3dm, .3ds, .max, .obj, and .stp.

Privacy and Security

Unlike the other converters in our list, Online-Convert does not say, in black and white, what happens to the data uploaded to its servers. An analysis of the privacy statement and terms of service shows stipulations that are as unclear as they are indirect. The platform collects your IP address, the date and time a file was uploaded, and the file itself. It then provides a link to download the converted file. “The generated file can be downloaded a maximum of 10 times. Access is automatically blocked after 24 hours, optionally also immediately. At the latest, the files are physically deleted after 72 hours, no backups are made,” the privacy statement reads.

The policy fails to stipulate the files that are physically deleted – whether both the input and output files are deleted or simply just one of the two. The statement further notes that the IP address “is deleted as soon as they are no longer required for the purpose of their acquisition.” So, it is important to keep this in mind if you want to use Online-Convert. (This is the main reason Online-Convert is the last online file converter on our list.)

The privacy question still lingers despite promises by online file converters that they often delete the files. With the vagueness displayed by some of the solutions, such as Online-Convert, offline converters become an even more attractive option. So, what if you still do not trust these options? Well, you can opt for offline converters. For some projects, you would require a industry-standard software like Scan2CAD to manage your file conversions. Scan2CAD is a market leading offline file conversion software. It also includes a complete raster and vector editing suite, with drawing tools, intelligent cleaning software and OCR. Check out all of Scan2CAD’s features here.

Download Free Trial of Scan2CAD to Convert Any File to DXF

For more tips on DXF conversion, check out our blog here!

Pros and Cons: Online vs. Offline File Converters

While online file converters require you to upload your files to a cloud, offline file conversion tools do not. This factor gives the latter an upper hand over the former. So, what are the pros and cons of each category of converters?

Online File Converters

Advantages of Online File Converters

  1. They can be used whenever and wherever, provided you have an internet connection
  2. Online converters that are also available as browser extensions offer convenience – with Chrome extensions, you do not have to look for online converters every time you want to convert files
  3. Some online converters safeguard security and privacy by deleting input and output files
  4. Some online converters offer additional services beyond file conversion – for instance, 2PDF allows you to split, compress, merge, and edit PDFs
  5. Online file converters support hundreds of file formats
  6. They are cross-platform and work with different web browsers
  7. Most online converters have a free tier or are 100% free

Disadvantages of Online File Converters

  1. Some online converters do not guarantee the security and privacy of the files and personal information
  2. Some online converters offer the highest priority and additional capabilities to paying customers, with users of the free tier enjoying limited capabilities and priority
  3. The quality of the conversion is not always assured as some online converters do not allow you to tweak the quality settings
  4. An Internet connection is required
  5. They may be slow as their servers could be impacted by numerous conversion requests
  6. Online file converters assign different names to the converted files, giving users additional work to rename the files

Offline/Desktop File Converters

Advantages of Offline/Desktop File Converters

  1. Some offline file converters such as Scan2CAD can be used for free during a trial period
  2. They enable you to conveniently select quality settings
  3. Some offline file converters, e.g., Scan2CAD, enable you to preview the converted drawing before saving the file
  4. Desktop file converters are fast as they use your computer’s resources instead of a server that may be easily overwhelmed by requests
  5. Offline file converters safeguard the security of the input and output files because they are stored locally
  6. Desktop file converters give users 100% control over the conversion process, including the naming
  7. They can be accessed from any location as they do not require an internet connection
  8. Offline file converters do not limit the file size or the number of conversions users can make per day

Cons of Offline/Desktop File Converters

  1. Some desktop file converters only support a limited number of file formats
  2. Some offline file converters only work with a single operating system
  3. They are primarily created for paying customers – there are no free and reliable desktop file converters

Parting Shot

While convenient, online file converters are risky. Their usage could predispose you to issues around safety, privacy, quality, and limitations on the size of the file you can upload. That said, there are some reliable online file converters – we have listed a few – using which you can avoid these pitfalls. But if you still do not trust them, you can download an offline file converter such as Scan2CAD.

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