Transferring large files to someone over the Internet can be a pain in the butt. Sure, most of the stuff you send and receive can be done in email. However, these days with multi media applications getting easier to use, harddrives getting cheaper and bigger, some of the stuff we produce on our computers is just too big to email. This leaves us fishing for solutions.
Let’s say you’ve just finished a project on your computer. Maybe it’s a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation. Or maybe it’s a video, a screencast or other file format that’s just big. Really big. I mean huge. The phone on your desk rings. It’s your boss. He would like for you to send over that file to him ASAP. (substitute boss for client, partner, friend, grandparent, accountant…you get the point.)
Now, it used to be an unspoken rule, on the Internet, that you never sent any attachment through email that was over 1 meg. The reason for this was because most of us were on dialup. Sending a large file to someone basically locked up their machine while it tried to download the file. Access to broadband changed this unspoken file size from 1 meg to 5 megs. Today services like Hotmail and Gmail allow you to send files that are 10 and 25 megs in size, respectively. Godaddy allows you to send a 30 meg attachment.
That’s all fine and dandy, if A. your recipient is on the same email system as you and B. your file doesn’t exceed those limits (or you have multiple files of that size to send.)
The reason that email can’t be used for large files is mainly because of the limitations that administrators set to preserve hard drive space on the mail server. Big files take up lots of space. If lots of people send lots of big files, then mail server hard drives can fill up faster than you can say buffer overflow.
In the past we used to just transfer large files onto CD, DVD or USB drive and “sneaker net” or “snail mail” them to our recipients. The problem with that approach today is that a lot of the people we are dealing with aren’t in the same office, state or even country. Plus, with broadband just about everywhere, using the US Mail or FedEx to send large files just feels stupid too.
So, it’s time to break away from the “email solves all of my problems” attitude and consider using a file sending service.
A file sending service allows you to use an application on your computer or a website to upload and send a file to those you designate as recipients.
Over the years I’ve used a number of these services. Some are free. Some are paid. The free services are ok as long as your file is 100 megs or smaller. The two services I like the most are Dropio and YouSendIt.
For years I used dropio.com (formerly called drop.io) to transfer my files to people. Basically you go to the drop.io website, click the upload button and upload your file. When the upload is complete they give you a URL (web address) that you can then paste into an email and send. Files are password protected. What’s great about this service is you don’t have to go through any sort of signup. You just go to the site, upload your file and then email the URL to your recipient. This is what attracted me to Dropio in the first place.
The service I recently started using has been around for a LONG time. YouSendIt is a paid file sending service that has done an amazing job of earning a special spot in my heart.
Some of you reading this will be like.. DUH! What took me so long to discover the benefits of YouSendIt? Well, first of all, I always thought it was stupid to pay for a file sending service. And in most cases if you’re not sending out a few large files every month, then the free services work fine. But if you’re sending out large files on a regular basis, then you’ll want to take a closer look at YouSendIt.
The first thing I like about YouSendIt is its desktop application. Instead of logging onto a website to send the files, I just click the little paper airplane icon to open the application. From here I can address those to whom I’m sending my files and then DRAG and DROP all of the files I’m sending into the application. This drag and drop part and the fact that I can load in all of the files at once is a small thing, but’s HUGE when you’re busy.
What the recipient gets on their end is also very nice with YouSendIt. They get a nicely formatted email with a big DOWNLOAD button. When your recipients click this button they are taken to a temporary web page that presents clear instructions for downloading the file. YouSendIt makes the process super easy. And makes you look good. This service seems to be the de facto file sending service for professionals.
Free file sending services are ok, but they limit the size of the file you can send. If you don’t do big file transfer on a regular basis, then dropio.com is a great service to use. However, if you are constantly sending files to colleagues, your boss and or clients and you’re tired of trying to do this manually, then YouSendIt is worth a few of your clams.