send big files : Java Glossary

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send big files
  1. If you want to send a file to someone connected to the same LAN (Local Area Network) as you, the easiest way is to put it on a shared drive that you both have access to.
  2. If you want to send someone a small file (under 1,000,000 bytes), send it as an email attachment. You may have discovered that email does not work well for sending large files, such as a CD (Compact Disc) image, or video to other people. Email is was designed in the days of the teletype, and hence uses a non-compressing scheme with almost 100% overhead. Vandals, or well meaning friends, can annoy you by sending very large files that tie up your email software for hours. Some email servers thus limit the size of an attachment. Some spam or security software blocks large attachments.
  3. If you want to send someone up to 100 megabytes of files, zip them and upload them with FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to your website and tell the recipient to download the file, then send the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) by email to the recipient to download with a browser or FTP downloader. He will need to unpack the zip with WinZip or similar. This will only work if you own a website. You have to be careful with security since your website is publicly accessible.
  4. You can send 600 MB of files on a CD or 4.7 gigabytes on a DVD (Digital Video Disc).
  5. If you want to give someone several gigabytes of files, copy them onto a USB flash drive and hand it to them or send it by snail mail. Drives come in capacities from 1 to 256 gigabytes.
  6. If you are distributing a set of files you update frequently, you might consider uploading them to an rsync server. The advantage is only the changes are transmitted. This is a rather techie solution that does not work well with Windows.
  7. If you want the logical simplicity of LAN-style file sharing over the Internet, set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) with Samba file server.
  8. If you don’t have a server, or don’t have technical savvy, you can use a file sharing service. You use their software to upload and download files to their server farm (or the cloud, the new sexy word for a server farm). You can send a file to many people. You have to upload it only once. If they don’t want it, they can ignore it, unlike email that ties up there Internet access whether they want it or not. They will automatically compress uploads and decompress downloads. These services may offer additional features such as backup of shared files, continuous backup of you hard disk, OCR (Optical Character Recognition), tracking (like parcel tracking), encryption, converting files to other formats such as PDF (Portable Document Format). The catch is you must pay. Sometimes the services are free if you send only a few small files. The other catch is the recipient normally is expected to set up an account too. If the service offers compression or encryption, then the recipient will have to use the service’s proprietary software.

YouSendIt logo  YouSendIt

yousendit.com offers a typical service for sending big files. You don’t need your own website. You can use WinZip Courier. It uses the WinZip site as an intermediary. It costs  $5.00 USD a month so send files up to 2 gigabytes each. You can send files up to 100 MB free. You and the recipient each use WinZip’s web-based software to manage the delivery and pickup via the WinZip site. The other advantage is tracking. You can tell if the recipient has picked up the attachment. One other advantage is the recipient does not have to pick up the attachment if he does not want it. So it is much more polite to send a large attachment to someone this way.

CometDocs logo  CometDocs

CometDocs lets you use it without paying and without even registering. They use a clipboard metaphor. They have three payment plans. Free, $10.00 USD per month and $20.00 USD per month. The more you pay, the bigger the files you can send, the more people you can send to, the more time people have to pick up files, and the more online space you have. The biggest file it will transfer in the premium plan is 100 MB. They do not automatically compress/decompress. It is up to you to zip. Because they do no compression, the receiver does not need to use any CometDocs software to retrieve a file, just an ordinary browser fed the URL. Their website is inconsistent on various limits about maximum file sizes and retention times. If you sign up, I suggest you get them to clarify. They offer various file conversion services, mostly involving PDF. In my test I could not figure out where to enter to recipient’s email address. The interface is mostly empty unlabelled boxes. They need more conventional dialogs with labelled boxes roughly the size of the expected fields. It is unclear if you are supposed to redrag drag files from the clipboard to the convert/transfer areas. The whole notion of dragging is puzzling. Normally dragging is not supported by browsers. There is precious little in the way of instruction. They are new and I gather they did not do any virgin testing. How it works is too obvious to bother explaining from the developer’s point of view. They could take a page from Tint Guide’s animated tutorials.


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