Episode 54: November 21, 2012
by Eric Escobar
This week we’ll be talking about how to send large files over the internet. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Tech Talker, I thought you covered this in your podcast about BitTorrent?” And that is true, BitTorrent is one of the best ways to send large files over the internet. The only problem is that not everyone you want to send files to has BitTorrent or is well versed in how it works.
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So here’s the scenario: You just took some awesome pictures at Thanksgiving dinner and you want to send your Grandma all of your high resolution photos so she can use them to make a scrapbook and a calendar for next year. You have a ton of pictures and you really don’t want to have to send 15 emails just to get them all to her. So what do you do?
Well, let’s look at the obvious ways first. You could use BitTorrent, but odds are you’ll just want to send the pictures one time, and you only need them to go to one person – plus Grandma isn’t as tech savvy as you and doesn’t have BitTorrent on her computer. So what do you do?
Option #1: Dropbox
There are a few options, but one of my favorites is to use Dropbox.com. All you do is throw your files into a Dropbox folder that you want to share, right click on the folder, and select “generate link.” This will give you a hyperlink that will allow you to share that single folder with anyone! From there, all you need to do is to paste that link into an email and hit Send. The person on the other end of your email just has to click the link and the download of the folder contents will start automatically.
So if you are a Dropbox user, then this is a pretty solid option because it wouldn’t require you to install anything more than what you already use. The only downside here is that large files will take away from your available Dropbox space, so if you are using most of your Dropbox allotment, it might be a pain to delete a bunch of files to free space up. This can be especially problematic if the person you’ve sent the link to doesn’t let you know that he or she no longer needs them pictures or is done with the download.
Option #2: WeTransfer
The next option is to send your files over a website service called WeTransfer.com. I’ve used this site for a few years now and it is extremely user-friendly and has some pretty neat features.
All you need to do is to go to WeTransfer.com, type your email address and your destination email address, then attach the file and click Send. The file gets uploaded from your computer to WeTransfer, which will email you and your friend when the upload is complete, and then they will email you when your friend has downloaded the file.
The benefits for this are that you can do this on any computer, you don’t need to sign up for an account, and you can send up to 2 gigabytes of data! Just to put that into perspective, your average email client will only allow you to send about 20 megabytes, which means that WeTransfer can move roughly 100 times more data than regular email!
Besides WeTransfer, there are other websites that perform a similar function, such as YouSendIt.com and DropSend.com. However, I’ve singled out WeTransfer because it has been the most reliable at getting my files to people easily and quickly. This isn’t to say that the other options aren’t reliable, but WeTransfer is simply the one with which I’ve had the most success. If you think you have a better website than the ones I’ve mentioned today, please let me know on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
Before we conclude, I want to talk about security. Sending files over the internet, whether it be via Dropbox, WeTransfer, or any other service, is never 100% secure. This is because the files are uploaded through the internet to the servers of the service through which you decided to send the file. This means that there is always the opportunity for someone to intercept or view what you have sent. Now the chances that this would happen are very remote. After all, these file sending services are all built on the trust of their user base. If people hear that their data in unsecure, they will most surely jump ship to a more trustworthy service!
So what’s the take away? Don’t use these services for sending ultra-important and ultra-sensitive files. As a rule of thumb, never upload anything you wouldn’t mind the world seeing. So if you have a large video project, or a ton of family photos to send, I would have no qualms about using these services. However, if I needed to send someone a large PDF with my social security number on it, I might think twice about using any of these services.
So what’s the solution to sending large files that are of a secure nature? That’s what I’ll tackle next week when I talk about encryption, which, combined with today’s episode, will make sending even very sensitive information over the web securely, an extremely easy task!
But until then, here are you Quick and Dirty Tips for sending and receiving large files to and from friends and family:
Dropbox will allow you to share any of your files by simply right clicking on the file or folder, which will generate a link that you can share.
If you don’t have a Dropbox account or don’t have the program installed on the computer you’re using, you can simply go to the website WeTransfer.com and send your large files without creating an account.
Although many of these services boast awesome security, you should never send extremely sensitive information through them because there is still a small chance that a hacker could breach the security system.
Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post your comments on the Tech Talker Facebook page.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!
Thanksgiving Dinner Photo images from Shutterstock