on March 20, 2015 Educational

The 5 Worst Ways to Send Large Files

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You have a terabyte of important company data. You need to get it from the Boston office to your team in New York by the end of week. Your boss is counting on you. You have the data on an external hard drive connected to your computer. You also have access to the company’s DropBox account. How do you do it? Which medium do you use? Do you disconnect the hard drive, or do you upload the contents into the cloud? The perfect solution may be difficult to find. Luckily for you, we’re going to tell you which methods to AVOID.  Maybe this will help lead you in the right direction, and save your job. Here are the 5 WORST ways to send large files.

THE HAND-OFF (aka SNEAKERNET)

The "hand-off" is a classic file sharing move attempted by many bold individuals on a daily basis. It involves two parties, the person doing the handing off, and the person receiving the hand-off, similar to a quarterback and a runningback in American football. The person doing the hand-off starts by disconnecting his/her external hard drive from their device, and carrying it out of their building. Next, they must locate the receiver. Once the receiver is located, and the hand-off is successfully executed, the receiver must return to his/her office, and connect the hard drive to their device. Sounds easy right? Well, what if the hard drive is fumbled and turned over in the process? It can end up lost, or in the wrong hands. If the hard drive is dropped, it can be damaged or even break, making its contents inaccessible. And don’t forget the time and inconvenience of the hand-off. It can take valuable time to execute, especially if transportation is involved, consequently stopping both parties from working for a period of time. The saddest part? It all starts over again once the hard drive must be handed back off again. 

THE MAILMAN 

The “mailman” is a rookie mistake a lot of inexperienced file sharers will make in times of desperation. This operation may even be more dangerous than the “hand-off.” I know, hard to believe. Instead of physically handing the external drive to the recipient, the person sharing the drive decides to send it in the mail. This means they'll have to walk to the post office, taking the same environmental risks they did during the hand-off, pay for a box and stamp, add a little note that says, “top secret” (like that makes people not want to steal it), enter the address, and hope it reaches their desired target. What!? You are trusting the USPS with your important files? They lose stuff all the time! Not only do they lose stuff, but it could take forever! I waited a month for a box of legos one time! I didn’t even want to build anymore! Mail is completely out of your control, it can be stolen, mishandled, or just plain annoying. It’s a huge inconvenience to both parties, and could waste so much time. And yes, just like the hand-off, someone might have to SEND IT BACK. And the whole process repeats itself...

THE EMAIL 

The third course of action to avoid when sharing large files is “the email.” First of all, most mail servers are set-up to have a 10MB limit on attachments, which rules anywhere close to a terabyte of information out of the picture. But for the sake of argument, say you could send a large file over email. Why would you? Email isn’t designed for security. It's the most common system to be hacked. You’d have to encrypt the file, or do a 360 degree turn instead and send a password protected link, to decrease the chances of having your data leaked. But again say for some reason you are actually sending large safe files through email. What if the recipient wants to make a change and send it back? What if you want to make another change and send it back again? What if you end up sending ten emails back and forth? You put the data at risk every time, let alone how mind numbing it would be to continuously edit and send files every hour. Would you even want to keep your job at that point? 

THE P2P

Peer-to-peer file sharing makes information available amongst a company’s entire network, given the bandwidth is wide enough, and there are no connection troubles. However, once the logistics of the software are sorted out, it’s time to give everybody in the office access to those large files (And everybody else in the world)! P2P software allows ANYONE, including hackers, simple access to your data. Email is the most commonly hacked system, but little do people know that P2P software is the easiest. As opposed to having to hack into someone’s personal files or emails, all a hacker must do is breach your company’s network. Once that’s complete, say goodbye to all of your secret information, and to your high-paying job. The hacker will probably take both. 

THE BASIC CONSUMER FILE-SHARING TOOL 

Everybody thinks the answer to sharing large files is DropBox, Google Drive, or another BASIC consumer sharing tool that everybody probably uses. But when sending LARGE files, and/or IMPORTANT files, these programs are no longer your friend. Don’t get me wrong, Dropbox is great for photos from a smartphone or reports and presentations, Google Drive is awesome for filling out a timesheet or collaborating on a research project, but both applications have limited features. They have limited bandwidth, which can turn a 10 minute upload into a 10 hour upload. They don’t allow companies to use an audit log, which tells you where and when data was leaked in case of a breach, and they don’t transcode media files. If you’re sending a picture or a video, it will most likely lose its resolution, and buffer. Now you’re wasting time waiting for a blurry video to load. Nice. 

These are the WORST ways to send large files. For information on the BEST ways to send large files, read our article, Don’t Pay for Cloud Storage, Pay for Cloud Features. It talks about which file sharing software is best for sensitive data. 

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Nick Shanman

Intern at large. Movie buff.