Ways to share large files with others

Again one PIM raleted XKCD comic :)!

We have the internet for over two decades, yet most people I know don’t know what is the best way to send large files to one another. So what are the possibilities (from the comic below):

  • Send a file via email. It happens. I receive at least one file a year that is over 30MB. My email client stops responding, so I have to open the web email client.
  • Most people I know have no idea what is an FTP server, let alone have one. I was really surprised that a lot of students in Sweden (in 2004) had their own FTP servers on their own machines to share files. I wonder if it is still the case.
  • Web hosting. Who deals with it any more. In the old days, whoever wanted to have a web site, needed a web host. With web 2.0, all this is not necessary (everyone can create a blog with no technical knowledge). But to tell you the truth, this is the way I distribute files. I upload them to my web server and send URLs via email. 
  • Sharing servers such us RapidShare (part of Web 2.0 :)). Most of my students don’t know such services exist :(.
  • Direct Connect? Really?
  • Dropbox. A few months ago I wanted to share something in a CS conference, and non of the people had an account :(. So again, web hosting was a solution.

We have 4 computers in the house, all on the same LAN, have shared folders. Guess how we transfer large files? USB drives!

Deborah Barreau once wrote about how people learn just enough of technology to be able to complete their tasks. We don’t care if it is the most convenient, easy, reliable way as long as it works and it satisfies our needs [1]. Most of the times, we think our way is the only and best way anyway.

[1] Barreau & Nardi, Finding and reminding: file organization from the desktop, ACM SigChi Bulletin, 1995