Best Methods to Prevent Customers Sharing Digital Downloads

prevent sharing

Selling digital products isn’t easy. You probably already know that digital downloads can be shared quite easily. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of ways to stop the customer from sharing their links with others because there’s usually always a way around it. BUT, you can prevent them from doing it.

In this blog, I’m going to talk to you about the sharing of digital products and methods you can use to prevent it using our app – Downloadable Digital Assets. This works on any Shopify store, and soon it will be available for any WordPress store.

It’s hard to prevent the sharing of digital products – here’s why:

Re-uploading files

Basically, the reason it is easy for the customer to share assets is that the customer can download the files, and then re-upload them on their own transfer services such as Google Drive or similar.

This ultimately bypasses most methods of protection on the store side, unfortunately.

Not even license keys work 100%

The only method around this is by selling software with license keys. Even then, the software can be hacked and pirated, just like Adobe, Microsoft, and every software company for decades. Also, you can’t use license keys on most digital products such as eBooks, music, PDFs, Zip files and more.

Passwords don’t work

You cannot add passwords to your PDFs or Zips either. Customers can easily just share the password with others.

Conclusion – prevent as much as possible

This is where it gets tricky. Overall, it’s just not possible to 100% fully protect yourself from customers sharing the assets. We just need to prevent the customer from sharing them as much as possible, by making it difficult to share or warning them of copyright violation.

Firstly, if you have a Shopify store, install this app:

Install Downloadable Digital Assets onto your Shopify store, it will allow you to have access to all of the below methods to protect your digital downloads from being shared illegally.

downloadable digital assets protection

It’s created by Shopify experts, so they know exactly what a store needs in an app like this.

Methods to prevent customers from sharing digital downloads

Downloadable Digital Assets has some unique features to help prevent customers from sharing their URLs. While it is possible for a customer to share their download email, we have some steps to stopping them.

1. Only allow users to download from 1 IP address

Our app features this unique feature which will stop your customer from sharing with anyone else. It’s great because your customer will never be able to share this download with others, unless they download the files, then re-upload them to their own transfer service. If they do this, you can threaten them with copyright violations.

You can find this setting on the ‘Settings‘ page in the app.

restrict ip

Which plan can you get this on?

Scale plan & above

Things to note

There are a couple of things to note with this method, one of which is that they might want to download their files to 2 devices. All devices have a different IP address, even if they are on the same network. You can tell them that, this is against your license and they can only download to 1 device.

Another one is that a lot of internet services providers don’t provide static IP addresses, which means the IP changes often and is never the same. You usually need to pay extra to your service provider to get a static IP address.

So if the customer’s IP changes, they will not be able to download the rest of their files and they will be asked to contact the customer service of your store.

2. Set a download limit

Most of the time customers will download a maximum of 2 times. Sometimes the download will fail because of their internet, so they get another chance. Sometimes they want the asset on their phone and computer, which adds up to 2 downloads.

You can do this on the ‘Settings‘ page.


Which plan can you get this on?

Free plan & above

3. PDF Stamping

Unfortunately, this only works with PDF files, but it really helps prevent customers from sharing PDFs with others.

PDF Stamping stamps the customer name, email and order number on the PDF. Customers wouldn’t want their personal details linked to leaked PDF files, so this prevents them from sharing. It also indicates to the store owner which customer has proceeded to share their purchases, allowing you to take legal action.

You may think “but what if the customer just edits the PDF?”. We have something to stop this too! You can lock the PDF file so it’s permanently secured and uneditable. Even using Adobe Acrobat Reader cannot edit the PDF. Their personal details will be stamped on the PDF forever.

Learn more about setting up PDF Stamping and how to sell PDFs on Shopify.

pdf stamping
create pdf stamping template

Which plan can you get this on?

You will need the Starter plan to use a single PDF Stamping template.

You will need the Scale plan or above to create unlimited PDF Stamping templates.

4. Set an expiration time

Setting an expiration time will help in some cases because your customer will only have a set amount of time to download the asset(s). It completely depends on the type of product you are selling, but this will help prevent them from sharing.

order expiration settings

Which plan can you get this on?

Starter plan & above

You can always let them know on the download email and in the download box that you are tracking every download location, and you can see who has shared and who hasn’t. Let them know that if you recognise distant IP addresses, their downloads will be blocked permanently. You can learn how to customise the email templates here. Below you can see how to customise the text in the download box.

Using our app, you can see the IP address of every download attempt on the order pages. So if you see distant IP addresses, you can instantly block the downloads until further verification. Learn how to block their downloads here.

checkout settings
Checkout settings in the app ‘Settings’ page.
thank you page after purchase
Example of the ‘Thank you’ page after purchase.

Which plan can you get this on?

Customise email templatesProfessional plan & above

Display links on ‘Thank you’ (order summary) pageStarter plan & above

Display links in customer accounts order pageScale plan & above

6. Selling large files instead of small

Surprisingly, selling large files can prevent users from sharing. Of course, a user can still download files from our app, then upload them to their own transfer services, but if the files are too large, they will need to pay for storage or a subscription, preventing them from sharing.

How to see if people are sharing downloads with others

You can easily see if someone is sharing downloads with others.

The ‘Order‘ page shows the IP addresses and web browser of every download that has taken place under the ‘Traffic‘ box.

When you see that they have shared the files with others, you can set an order expiration on their order to block them from downloading further. Of course, only if it is against your policy.

order details app

Which plan can you get this on?

Order expirationStarter plan & above

Traffic details – All plans


I hope this helps you fight against customers sharing digital downloads. Overall, it’s not easy to stop someone from sharing download links with others. There’s always a way around it unfortunately and it’s something we have to live with selling digital downloads. But if we can prevent it, we will as much as possible.

If you have any suggestions of methods to prevent the sharing of files, please let us know.

If you find your customers are having any issues with their downloads, you can show them this download issue troubleshooting guide.


How to protect digital downloads?

It’s hard to protect digital downloads from being shared, but we have created features to prevent your customers from sharing your digital products. Learn more about the best ways to prevent file sharing here.

How can I prevent PDF sharing?

We have the answer – PDF Stamping. Following this method, you will learn how to stamp your customers personal details on the PDF pages after purchase. This will prevent them from sharing with anyone publicly because they will easily get caught.

I you have a Shopify store, install the Downloadable Digital Assets app to use PDF stamping when selling your PDFs.

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