As sophisticated as the Internet community undoubtedly is, it’s still amazing to see that online file sharing is in its relative infancy. Think about it for a moment. Unless you’re actively involved in using some of the latest solutions and tools to share files with others, you might immediately think of “e-mail” whenever it’s time to forward a particular data file, photos or some other material to somebody else. Yet e-mail is a notoriously inefficient way to send files and you may often find that the system itself or the gateway at the other end will simply deny the transmission of your attachment.
Until fairly recently there were a number of “work arounds,” but they were either very time-consuming, far too tricky or simply too insecure. If you were sophisticated you might try to upload files to a remote machine by using FTP protocol. This was a very awkward way of doing things however and you needed the relevant information from the other party, login details and in short far too much “bother” for what should be a relatively simple task.
With the advent of cloud computing and storage, things have become a lot easier in recent times. We are used to sharing quite a lot – and in many cases more than we really appreciate – through the cloud as it is. Facebook enables us to share all kinds of experiences, but when it comes to dedicated methods for business purposes, companies like Dropbox have set the standard.
Dropbox is essentially free for infrequent use, but does come with a fairly low monthly fee if you’re transferring lots of files, or files over a certain size. Essentially, you upload the file to your account in the cloud and then send an e-mail to the entity you want to share the file with. Basically they login using their access details and you’re all set.
Another option is Google Docs. Once again, all you have to do is upload it and invite people to share it with. This is also a handy feature of other Google Apps such as Maps. If you need to share information about the location of a meeting or event for example, you simply input the details into your Map, create a link and send that to your contact.
Massive files can be a bit of a challenge under any circumstance. However, it’s very unusual to come across a multi-gigabyte file that you’re not able to compress. Exceptions may be a very lengthy instructional video file, but you should really be producing those in a format that takes up fewer resources anyway. You can host big video files in the cloud using a very inexpensive Amazon S3 account and simply send the URL to others in order to access it.
Little by little we are becoming accustomed to using the cloud as a fabulous resource. We can either access all the tools, software, solutions and resources we may need, or we can use it as a storage medium, making it easier for us to communicate with outsourcers and/or clients.
How do you share files over the internet? I’d love to read your comments.