That's right, folks - we've done it again!
Your humble author of this large file transfer blog has had another article accepted by ezinearticles.com - the Internet's leading article directory!
In this article ("Large File Transfer - Why Bother With FTP?") I tackle the subject of sending big files via FTP - the outdated technology we all know and love (or, y'know, dislike intently - guess which one I am?).
The article looks at the age of the protocol, as well as security and usability issues. I'm no Mark Twain, but I think it's both readable and informative, and (here I confess to bias) worth taking a look at.
Just follow the link to the article on (basically) FTP replacement. Of course, considering that you're here, it's not hard to guess what I recommend instead of FTP for sending large files...
Please let me know what you think in the comments!
The news has been flying about all over the Internet: social media giant Facebook has bought out file sharing service Drop.io.
For those who don't know, Drop.io took an unusual approach to sending large files by allowing users to create temporary "mini-drop-boxes". There were no other features - just the ability to anonymously share files for a brief period of time.
According to TechCrunch.com, the social media moguls have bought not only Drop.io's technology, but their talent: CEO Sam Lessin (and perhaps others) will be moving out to Palo Alto, California to join the Facebook team.
The company's incipient demise (non-paid accounts have already been shut down, and paid accounts will be closed on December 15, 2010) sends an interesting message to the rest of the file-sharing industry: Facebook is planning to add online file transfer to their service offerings.
This may or may not be a good thing, depending on one's point of view. Facebook has 2 main strengths that they can apply to the field that most online file transfer services cannot:
1. Massive traffic, and
2. Massive capital to spend on application development.
If they do go ahead and implement a technology similar to Drop.io's, and integrate it fully into their service, it would probably mean the demise of many of the current companies in the field - especially the new, smaller start-ups with little to offer besides sending files too big for email.
If the services that let users transfer big files wish to survive, they are going to have to "go the extra mile", and offer more than ad-serviced large file transfer.
What sort of value-add features should users look for in a big files transfer service?
1. The ability to receive large files: only a few of these companies let their users receive files from those without accounts, and they usually charge for the privilege.
2. Storage: while many users are only interested in sending large files, many more (especially businesses) are also looking for the ability to store files online - allowing them not only to collaborate but preserve valuable data.
3. Robust tracking: of special value to corporate users (from any size business), the ability to track uploads and downloads is a must - especially if multiple users in separate locations share one account.
FilesDIRECT (of course) offers all these features, and more, for free with all accounts:
1. Free customizable upload and download pages ("dropboxes"). Now your clients can upload files to your personal page - or download files from a set of private files you send them a link to.
2. Paid accounts start with a whopping 10GB of free storage - and it only goes up from there.
3. Tracking: live tracking of what files have been uploaded and downloaded, when and by whom.
There are many more features and our development team is always working on more...while fly-by-night "free" operations should be worried about the news out of Brooklyn, we know that FilesDIRECT will still be around for a long time to come.
No matter the size of the company, an increasing number of businesses need to be able to send files or receive files, either internally (among staff) or externally (with clients, contractors or field staff).
Smaller companies often don't have the resources to set up their own servers (either in terms of hardware and the IT staff to maintain it), especially in the earlier days of an enterprise. This limits their ability to use FTP (the traditional choice for sending large files) or network drives (the simplest solution for internal file sharing). Large companies also face similar limitations, especially in current difficult economic times. Let's face it: everyone's on a tighter budget these days.
While email is a common choice for sending files, it suffers from a number of downsides:
1. Lack of security: email is a very easy electronic media to access...in other words, it's easy to hack. This is a major concern for businesses that handle sensitive information, such as health care-related companies (insurance firms, doctor's offices, etc.), financial institutions, or law firms.
2. File size limits: most common email programs impose limits on the size of attachments that can be sent along with messages, generally in the range of 25MB. While this may not be an issue for many non-business users, many companies need to be able to send or access much larger files, such as contracts, architectural drawings, computer applications or patient files (among many possibilities).
3. Poor tracking: if a particular file (or set of files) is subject to changes from several people, email does not really give the ability to properly track changes made, who made them or who has accessed the files in question.
The inherent risks and issues involved in FTP were discussed in the previous post on this blog.
So, if neither of the 2 most popular methods of sharing files are the best way to go, what is?
A web based file transfer service.
Online file sharing solves all of the issues mentioned earlier. For example, FilesDIRECT offers:
1. Security: 128-bit encryption is used for uploading and downloading files (the same level of encryption used by banks and major online retailers like Amazon.com), and files are sent using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) cryptography. Combined with the ability to password protect downloads and uploads, this is a level of security that cannot be matched by other methods.
2. While the vast majority of email programs severely limit the size of files that can be sent (most to a max of 25MB or less), FilesDIRECT allows users to send files up to 2GB in size without downloading any software. Downloading the free desktop app allows for file transfers of any size.
3. FilesDIRECT's built-in file management includes automatic tracking of files, including the file name and type, it's size, and upload and download history.
Another benefit is that, once a company has an account, they can set up a (free!) upload page (aka: a dropbox) to allow others (such as clients, contractors, etc.) to upload files to the company for free...without having to open accounts of their own.
All of these features make big file transfer with FilesDIRECT a natural choice for businesses of any size in any industry.
Now, this post probably won't be of interest to the technically inclined, but for folks who are curious about some of the jargon flung about the file transfer side of the internet, this one is for you.
FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol", and it is a method used to copy files from one host to another over networks like the internet - technically, over "TCP/IP" networks, which stands for "Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol". Access to an FTP client can be either anonymous or password-protected, depending on how it's been set up.
FTP was originally created by Abhay Bhushan in 1971, with the standard specifications having been updated twice since then (in 1980 and 1985). Let's look at that again: the File Transfer Protocol, one of the major methods used to send files, was first written in 1971 and it's last major update was in 1985.
25 years ago.
Moreover, ask any (honest) IT professional and they'll tell you that FTP was never designed to be a secure method of sending data, and even with security upgrades, it's still vulnerable to a wide variety of attacks (according to the good folks at Wikipedia). Though somewhat mitigated in modern versions, data (including user names, passwords, etc.) can often be easily accessed and read. Additionally, it tends to leave mile-wide holes in your firewall, thereby opening your computer to potential attack.
As one would expect for such an old system, usability is not very good - even newer versions are often clunky and distinctly not user friendly. If you've ever had to use FTP, chances are you've experienced this firsthand...I know I have.
"There's got to be a better option!" You might say. And I would respond "Yes, yes, there is." It's been 25 years since the advent of FTP, and a lot has changed since then, including the coding languages available to programmers and, in fact, the very structure of the internet.
This is a very good thing, because it's given us a variety of choices, the best of which are probably online file transfer services like FilesDIRECT. I confess to being biased, but let's look at the reasons why:
- Password protected uploads and downloads
- 128-bit SSL encryption
- Easy to use - super-simple user interface
- Send large files (2GB using your browser, or files of any size with the desktop app)
- Send and receive multiple files simultaneously
- There are no servers to maintain
- Works with any operating system
And, of course, much more.
With modern, more secure options like this, I can't think of any good reasons for using something as outdated as FTP.
It's time to move large file transfer into the 21st century.
I was directed to this fantastic post by Frank Strong (of Vocus & PRWeb fame) on the TopRank Online Marketing Blog that ties the classic 80's movie into social media.
I confess, as both a martial artist and marketer, that I think the concept is awesome all-around. Besides having a neat concept, the article is well-written and provides useful advice, especially to those new to social media marketing. It doesn't have anything to do with large file transfers, but I think you'll find it interesting and useful.
Here's the link. Enjoy!
Okay, so I may be exaggerating, but only a little!
This post is really to toot my own horn (so to speak) but what can I say: I'm excited, and the rest of the team here encouraged me to write a blog post about it, so here we are:
I am now listed as an "Expert Author" on EzineArticles.com, the Internet's leading article directory.
And yes, before you ask, I was almost as excited as a kid at Christmas.
Anyways, the article is titled: "Send Large Files Safely Online" (feel free to click the link) and it gave me the opportunity to discuss some of the knowledge I've gained over the past few months about sending large files, receiving large files, and online storage - specifically focusing on the security issues involved in online file transfer.
It's not an in-depth discussion of different security protocols, or a careful examination of different methods of cryptography (although, come to think of it, those are some petty good ideas for later articles...hmmm...) so much as a brief overview of the security issues to consider when choosing a file transfer service.
Feedback is welcome (just leave a note in the comments) but please - be gentle. :)
Healthcare organizations (including hospitals, claims administrators, doctors' offices, etc.) exist in a high-pressure, highly-regulated environment, and several of those regulations are about keeping and transferring patient data.
Regulations like HIPAA demand that healthcare organizations keep personally identifiable health information confidential, and that they track and report on how that information is accessed.
The challenge is that the systems used must not only be secure, but be simple enough that any staff who need to access the information can do so easily and effectively.
Email, though widely-adopted and easy to use, suffers from a lack of security and an ability to transfer only small files (10MB or less). FTP, though commonly used by IT professionals, is very complicated to use and very insecure.
A local hospital has a wide variety of staff, clients and partners, not all of whom are on-site. Doctors and nurses need to access and update patient information on the fly, while hospital administrators have to manage the access given to the hospital’s billing service, who is then in contact with patients' insurance companies. They had previously used email and FTP – but their FTP system lacked encryption abilities, and email was becoming less scalable and using increasing amount of server resources. To top it all off, neither system lets them manage workflow or enforce appropriate access to patient records.
The solution is online file transfer and storage. These services (like FilesDIRECT) let healthcare organizations store data offsite, which gives redundancy of important information and reduces server load.
FilesDIRECT’s “One-Click Send” system is easy to use; with a simple, customizable public upload page. This allows hospital staff and partners to use the system without time-consuming (and expensive!) training.
Our online file transfers use the same level of encryption as banks and major online retailers (like Amazon). This means healthcare organizations can rest assured their patient information is secure.
Simplicity, security, and built-in tracking means FilesDRECT is the perfect solution for HIPAA compliant file transfer.
Try it FREE today!
Trying to email large files is a process filled with limitations and problems, and even though it’s a popular method to send files, you shouldn’t risk losing your work to it. Low file size limits and a tendency for messages to disappear without any kind of notice are all reasons to switch to something new. Now, you can quickly and safely email large attachments to anyone, anywhere in the world with FilesDIRECT.
Using one-click send and a secure SSL encryption, FilesDIRECT is the best and most convenient web based file transfer service available.
Whether you are a large enterprise business needing to email thousands of confidential documents or a small graphic design firm trying to get dozens of large Photoshop files to the printers, FilesDIRECT is the perfect solution. In addition, no FTP or tech knowledge is required, just click to upload your file and emails are instantly sent to both you and the recipient letting everyone know the files are ready to be downloaded.
Have questions? Want to try FilesDIRECT? Sign-up for our FREE trial and start emailing large files right now.
As a bit of a break from our usual posts, we've decided to poll the staff here at the FilesDIRECT office to get a list of everyone's favorite iPhone apps.
In case you're wondering: yes, everyone here does have an iPhone. And yes, we love them.
One of our top picks is iBooks - Apple's free e-book app. The built-in search, easy organizing and bookmarking, and pdf-reading capability all make this a perennial favorite. Make sure you've got iOS 4 before you pick this one up so you can get all the latest features.
Bump made the grade as a networking app: all it takes is a quick fist bump and you can share photos, contacts, and calendar events, become friends on Facebook, and more.
Zoocasa got the thumbs up by our CEO himself as a real estate search app that is simple and easy to use. It shows you local homes that are up for sale and displays them as a Google map. You can filter the results by number of bedrooms or bathrooms, as well as price. It lets you view photos as well as agent contact info, and email the info with just one tap.
The next 3 apps made it onto this list because most of our staff travel internationally on a regular basis:
XE Currency is a powerful (and popular) currency converter powered by XE.com - access current conversion rates on over 180 currencies.
Next up is TripAdvisor. This handy little app lets you find flights, restaurants and things to do wherever you're travelling. It includes over 35 million reviews, and it works with your iPhone's GPS to get you directions and point out nearby options.
The last of the "travel app trio" is Flight Tracker, which lets you search for and track upcoming flights, and keep track of relevant details like gates, arrival times, baggage claim info, flight delays, etc. It's biggest draw is that it suggests alternative flights (and their connections) so that you're not entirely at the mercy of the never-that-reliable airline industry. While not really free, at $0.99, it's so close that it might as well be.
A fun free app (if you're a Star Wars nerd, anyways) is Lightsaber. On the off chance you haven't tried this yet, it does just what you think: creates a big glowing line across your screen and produces all the sound effects of the elegant weapon from a more civilized age.
Game-wise, it's hard to beat Monster Kill for sheer manic enjoyment. You have a wall. Monsters come down the screen and try to break through your wall. You kill the monsters. Repeat. A simple but effective formula.
So there you have it - some of our favorite apps. What are yours?
We've been promising everyone tutorials on how to use the service to transfer large files, and while we're setting up our video studio, we thought we would post these in the interim.
Okay, you've just signed up with FilesDIRECT, and you have some files you'd like to send - now what?
First, log in to FilesDIRECT by entering your username and password in the upper right-hand corner of the screen:
Once you have logged in, you will see two tabs on the upper left: "Dashboard" and "Manage Files". Make sure the "Dashboard" tab is selected:
Once you are in the Dashboard, you have 3 main options:
1. Send a File
2. Manage Files
3. Customize Page
Click on "Begin Upload" (underneath Send a File)
This takes you to the Upload page - once the page loads, click "+ Direct Send" at the bottom of the page:
This will bring up the additional fields to fill out to send the file(s).
First, verify your personal information at the top of the page: feel free to add or remove data as you like (the only information you need to have is your name and email address)
Halfway down the page is the "Add files" button. Click it.
Now you can select the files you want to send via the popup window:
Once you've selected the files you want to send, just scroll down, enter in the recipients' email address, and the subject and text of the message you'd like to send them along with the file. Then decide if you want to password-protect the download and/or have the file automatically erased after being downloaded:
If you want to encrypt the files, select "Click Here for Secure Uploads" at the top of the screen.
Then just click "Continue" and sit back and relax as your files are uploaded and sent!
Simple, easy, safe: that's FilesDIRECT.