From Dropbox to Google Drive, YouSendIt and email, which is the best way to send very big files?
It’s a problem we’ve all faced – how do we easily share that big file with your client, colleague and or friend?
What are the best ways to share files?
1 – Email attachments
This is probably the most common way of sharing files. While this is the easiest way to send files over the Internet it is not without issues.
Many organisations and email limit the size of email attachments you can either send or receive. So, while file attachments are OK for smaller files they are limited when it comes to larger files.
2 - Using Google Drive, Skydrive or Dropbox
Google Drive, Skydrive and Dropbox all make it relatively easy to share large files. All of these services provide a folder that is openly accessible over the Internet without a password.
While this is handy, it’s not secure making it an unsuitable option in many instances.
A more secure option is to use the built-in, file sharing that allows you to send a secure link to other people.
The idea is that rather than sending the entire file, all you provide is a secure link that the other party uses to simply download the file at their own convenience.
This gets around the size limitations on many file systems and also mean that there’s no waiting for attachments to download when retrieving email
Here’s how it works with Dropbox:
Log into your Dropbox account via a web browser. Find the file you want to share and put your mouse pointer on the file but don’t click. At the end of the file, a small icon that looks like a couple of links on a chain appears. Click on that icon.
On the next screen, all you’ll need to do is type in the email addresses and a short message.
The other party will receive an email with a link that allows them to either download the file or copy it to their own Dropbox account.
3 – Filesharing Services
Another option is to use a filesharing service. One of the more popular services is YouSendIt.
The free version of the service, called Lite, lets you store up to 500MB of files online with no one file being larger than 50MB. Once you upload a file, you send a link - that can be password protected - to whomever you want to share the file.
If your needs are greater, the Pro service ($9.99 per month or $99.99 per year) increases the total storage to 5GB with a maximum file size of 2GB. You can also set expiration dates on links you send and a dropbox service for receiving files.
The Pro Plus level of service costs either $5 per month or $50 per year more and offers unlimited storage and adds a number of other features.
The great thing about this is that what you share is isolated from the rest of your data so there's less chance of leaking data accidentally.
4 – Open up part of the company network
Finally, it is possible to open up a specific part of your network and make it accessible to the outside world.
If you have a NAS then it's not too hard to enable FTP access so that people can log in to a secure folder to access files.
However, if you're not technically strong, this can be a little fiddly to set up and you really want to make sure you get it right so that you don’t expose your private information to the world.
What would we do?
For small files, under 2MB, email is still the easiest tool for sending files.
With larger files, if you're already using a cloud storage service like Google Drive, Skydrive or Dropbox, then sharing files from there is going to be easy.
If you don’t have a cloud storage service or aren’t comfortable sharing form one, then YouSendIt is an easy option.
Sharing data from within your network is probably the last option we would consider as it is the most complex to set up and potentially opens you up to a security risk.