Transferring Files Without E-mail

E-mail and the Mazda Miata are both great examples of successful products, but they share a similar weakness: neither can carry much baggage. If you want to carry two people in a Miata, you're good. But if each of those folks has a big suitcase, you're in trouble. And if you want to send a file via e-mail that's more than a few megabytes in size, you also need another option. Say hello to FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and the new ways you can use one of the oldest Internet protocols.

Most mail servers, both within companies and those run by ISPs, allow a maximum attached file size of 10MB (MegaBytes, not GigaBytes). Darn few video files are that small, or audio files of much length, and even PowerPoint and spreadsheet files can break that size barrier. Add in the fact that 10MBs is the maximum size, and that many operators set their upper size limit at 6MBs or 4MBs, and you start to realize e-mail can't carry much baggage.

Hence SneakerNet and PostalNet remain popular, with people carrying or shipping CDs or hard disks from one place to another. If your files are in the 500GB and up range, copying them to a USB hard drive and shipping the hard drive is a good option for rare file transfers. But if you're regularly transferring files in the 10MB-100MB range, let's look at FTP and how new Web services have revitalized Internet file transfer and eased the process.

The most popular FTP replacement on the Web, , has been around since 2004 and has 8.5 million unique registered users (including Your Humble Narrator using one of the company's free accounts).

Ranjith Kumaran, CTO and founder of YouSendIt, said, "We wrote the original code in a few nights and weekends, threw up a file delivery service and it grew pretty quickly. One hundred percent of business customers are inbound customers, where users take our service to work with them, and the IT departments want more services and our paid parts."

You too can sign up for a free YouSendIt account if you haven't already. Give your name and e-mail address, the e-mail address of the file recipient, and upload the file. The recipient gets an e-mail from YouSendIt with a unique download link for the file. Paid services include files larger than 100MB, password protected download links, certified delivery with tracking, and return receipts. Their Pro service is US$9.99 per month, and their Business Plus service is $29.99 per month. You can also pay per use for features such as the certified delivery and tracking.