Recently there have been a few situations where clients have experienced frustration in using email to get and send files to people.
For years now the freedom with which you can send email has been in decline, due in part to anti-spam laws but also because of volumes and server loads.
ISPs and corporate IT departments have slowly been reducing the file size limits on attachments that are allowed to be attached, sent and delivered with emails. In some instances even modest sized PDFs have prevented emails from being delivered.
To get around this, whole new ways of exchanging files are now being considered and what were once services used predominately by software developers and media producers, are now being embraced by everyday citizens.
A short & vaguely accurate history of file sharing
In the corporate world, document sharing was big business in the late 1990's through to the early 2000's, with specialist software applications such as Documentum, Vignetteâ€™s StoryServer and Interwovenâ€™s Worksite MP.
For businesses with a more modest budget documents were shared via specially secured servers that had complicated access permission protocols; later this became simplified by Microsoft with Shared Folders.
Neither was particularly cost effective and both approaches had flaws when implemented in the real world of running a business.
Probably the single biggest revolution in document sharing has been the standardizing of file formats and in particular the introduction of PDF; especially for business.
Before standardization of file formats, everyone needed to have exactly the same version of software, so that all files could be shared and opened by everyone.
With standardization you were now able to distribute documents and other files more widely and have greater certainty that the files could be opened. It also meant businesses could now, in confidence, choose to digitize most, if not all, of their business data.
Once you could have reasonable certainty that someone else could open your files, distribution, getting your files into the hands of the right people was simple.
Email was already a part of most peopleâ€™s daily work life, so attaching and emailing documents was much easier than logging into a software application or server. The greatest benefit was the time it saved.
Where you'd have to send instructions to the person who wanted the document on where it was located, which version they needed to access and what the file was called. By using email, you could send exactly the version of document the person needed directly to them.
Today's file sharing problems
Our biggest problem today with document and file sharing is the distribution of our files, and that's mainly due to the size of files we now want to share.
When we were content with just sending a document with words and possibly a small picture or two, the size of the files were more modest.
Today, we're sharing large video files, huge numbers of image files and whole directory folders of files with one another. And our email networks and servers just can't cope.
So forget about sending files and documents via email and use The Cloud (if you're unfamiliar with The Cloud - it's just the latest jargon for The Internet).
Cloud computing is apparently going to be the next big thing in 2011... but chances are you've been into it for quite a while already.
Cloud computing in everyday speak is using software applications that have been made available via the Internet instead of buying the software and having it installed on your computer.
So if you've ever used Aweber, iContact, MailChimp, Eventbrite, SurveyMonkey, Paypal, Infusionsoft, Kajabi, Skype, Salesforce, Hotmail or any Google account â€“ Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Analytics, Google whatever... you've been using Cloud computing.
To solve your document and file sharing problems using The Cloud you have plenty of options depending on your needs.
You could start with something like StreamFile. With StreamFile you still send your files via email, just using streaming technology - something your email software, email server and ISP can't do right now.
Another option (and my personal favourite) is Dropbox. This is pure file sharing and storage in The Cloud. It doesn't matter what type of file it is; document, video, audio, whatever â€“ you simply create folders and files just like you would on your computer right now and share.
The next step up is something like Amazon S3, Flexiscale or Nirvanix; which are for the heavyweights. We're talking terabytes rather than gigabytes and some serious security and data protection capabilities.
Like John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing, I'm a fan of Dropbox because you can start off with a free account just to see whether using it is going to work for you and if it does you can upgrade if you need to, for more storage. It's easy to understand, install and use which is an added bonus.
Now your circumstances for sharing may be very different, so here's a list of 62 Online File Storage & Sharing options to help you find the right one for you.
- 4Shared (http://www.4shared.com/)
- Adobe Send Now (https://sendnow.acrobat.com/welcome.html)
- BigUpload (http://www3.bigupload.com/)
- Box.net (https://www.box.net/)
- BoxCloud (http://www.boxcloud.com/index.html)
- Datr (http://www.datr.ws/)
- Diino (https://www.diino.com/)
- DiomedeStorage (http://www.diomedestorage.com/)
- DivShare (http://www.divshare.com/)
- DriveHeadquarters (http://www.drivehq.com/)
- DropSend (http://www.dropsend.com/)
- Dushare (http://www.dushare.com/)
- EnterUpload (http://www.enterupload.com/)
- FileDropper (http://www.filedropper.com/)
- FileManager.net (http://www.filemanager.net/)
- Files2U (https://www.files2u.com/)
- FilesAnywhere (http://www.filesanywhere.com/)
- FilesDirect (http://www.filesdirect.com/)
- FilesOverMiles (http://www.filesovermiles.com/)
- FlipDrive (http://www.flipdrive.com/)
- Gigasize (http://www.gigasize.com/)
- GoogleDocs (http://docs.google.com)
- HugeDrive (http://www.hugedrive.com/)
- JetBytes (http://jetbytes.com/)
- KeepAndShare (http://www.keepandshare.com/)
- LiveDrive (http://www.livedrive.com/)
- MailBigFile (http://www.mailbigfile.com/)
- MediaFire (http://www.mediafire.com/)
- MongoFiles (http://www.mongofiles.com/)
- MyDocsOnline (http://www.mydocsonline.com/)
- MyOtherDrive (https://www.myotherdrive.com/actions/welcome)
- Nomadesk (http://www.nomadesk.com/)
- OnMobo (http://www.onmobo.com/mobo/home.aspx)
- OpenDrive (http://www.opendrive.com/)
- OrbitFiles (http://www.orbitfiles.com/)
- Pando (http://www.pando.com/)
- Pipebytes (http://host03.pipebytes.com/)
- PowerFolder (http://www.powerfolder.com/)
- QuickUpload (http://www.quickupload.net/)
- RackSpace (http://www.rackspace.com/index.php)
- RapidShare (http://rapidshare.com/)
- SafeSync (https://safesync.com/)
- SecureDrawer (http://www.securedrawer.com/)
- Send6 (http://www.send6.com/)
- SendItGlobal (https://www.senditglobal.com/)
- SendSpace (http://www.sendspace.com/)
- SendThisFile (http://www.sendthisfile.com/)
- SendUIt (http://www.senduit.com/)
- SkyDrive (http://explore.live.com/windows-live-skydrive)
- SlingFile (http://www.slingfile.com/)
- Sugarsync (https://www.sugarsync.com/)
- TransferBigFiles (https://www.transferbigfiles.com/)
- TrueShare (http://www.trueshare.com/)
- TyphoonDrive (http://www.typhoondrive.com/)
- Wikisend (http://wikisend.com/)
- XFiles (http://xfiles.technihelp.net/)
- YouSendIt (https://www.yousendit.com/)
- YourFolder (http://www.yourfolder.com/)
- Yuntaa (http://www.yuntaa.com/)
- Zshare (http://www.zshare.net/)