To start, I would recommend that file sharing or FTP is configured so that users download copy from a folder other than the default database folder (or the additional database folder specified in the Admin Console, if applicable). It may also be beneficial for performance reasons to have the shared folder on another server machine. I'm assuming that this is also what you meant by taking the database off the server?
Both file sharing or FTP access are fine. Depending on how secure you want your databases, FTP access offers more flexibility in terms of encrypting data.
Does anyone have a similar configuration that could chime in with some additional advice?