Sharing is something most of us learned to do early in life. Not only is sharing the nice thing to do, but oftentimes it results in the reciprocation of material goods, flowering of friendships, and facilitation of information exchanges. Online sharing is no different except there are several ways to go about it for different purposes.
Types of Online Sharing:
Email – By now everyone’s familiar with email. Characterized by speed and low cost, email makes a good tool for transferring small files. Google’s email program, Gmail (gmail.com), allows up to 20 megabytes of attachment(s) per email; Yahoo’s free email (login.yahoo.com) allows a maximum of 10mb per attachment. For regular businesses, a 5mb limit on email attachments is best, I wouldn’t advise allowing above 10mb. Larger attachments tend to slow down the server because they take up bandwidth and become a drag on internet speed, especially when a large file is sent to everyone in the office. Picture a scenario where a 10mb attachment is sent to 60 people, that’s 600mb – the size of a full length movie! That would definitely be a strain on most companies’ internet speed and will affect any application that connects to the internet, such as Outlook or Internet Explorer.
FTP – File Transfer Protocol is a tried-and-true method of sharing files via a server. The sender of a file must have access to a server and an FTP client. Both sender and receiver should have an FTP client installed (some FTPs are made accessible through a website). The benefit of this method – there is no limit to how much data can be transferred. Well, to be more precise, the limit is defined by the server and the party that has set up the FTP portal. There is no limit on the number of sends either. Some examples of FTP clients are SmartFTP (smartftp.com) and FTP Voyager (ftpvoyager.com). Free FTP clients include CoreFTP LE (coreftp.com), FileZilla (filezilla-project.org), and FireFTP (fireftp.mozdev.org) – which is used with the browser Mozilla Firefox.
Free File Transfer Websites – These sites provide users with free file transfer service or at least a free trial period to send and receive large files online. The maximum file sizes allowed are much larger than those available through email programs, with no server purchase or FTP client install necessary. These sites are a great alternative to the previous methods. Here are some I’ve found: DropSend (dropsend.com) offers 250mb, YouSendIt (yousendit.com) offers 100mb, MailBigFile (mailbigfile.com), and LeapFILE (leapfile.com) – which offers a 250mb, 30-day free trial.
Project Collaboration Websites – If you want more control over your file sharing and additional features such as calendars, milestones, or project assignment capability, you may want to look into these sites: Basecamp (basecamphq.com) and Zoho Projects (projects.zoho.com). Neither is free but both have trial versions you can explore. The great thing about a project collaboration site is the amount of control you have over the files shared. You can create projects and allow certain users access only to that project, without sharing other files and projects. There are many other useful tools at these sites then the ones I’ve named above.
Each type of online sharing has its own unique benefits. By considering the range of offerings, you will be able to choose the type(s) that will best fit your organization’s needs.