Storing and Transferring Large Files

These days, it is common to need to transfer a large file or a collection of files to another person, or to a class forum or a social media site. There are many reasons to do this:

  • Email transfer works to send small files, but if you try to send a large one your emailer will probably tell you to transfer the file using something like this.
  • Sometimes you may want to post something in a conference, but the conference refuses to load the item. This may be because the file is too large, or because it is a type of file (e.g., an .mp3 music file) that the forum don’t want on their system.
  • You might want to post a file that everyone can see in the form you post it today, but you’d like to be able to continue changing the content of that file for future viewings.

The basic process to do this is very straightforward:

  • You load your file into one of a large number of file-sharing sites (Google Drive, Dropbox, ICloud, Microsoft Onedrive, etc etc)
  • You obtain a URL (a “browser file address”) to that file, giving read access
  • You send or post that URL to the person or group that you want to have access to that file. They click on that URL (in their email, on a social media post, in a forum, or on a web page) and that file appears to them.

Specific instructions are here for:

  • Google Drive. (Google gives a free 15 Gig of file space to each Google account; you all ready have a Google Account if you use Gmail, Google Calendar, or other Google services).
  • DropBox. (Dropbox allocates a free X Gig to each account). DropBox is a really nice platform for temporarily sharing files (especially .mp3’s) between your computer and your cell phone: put the .mp3 in DropBox, and it shows up and you can play it on your phone).

A couple of notes about these services:

  • It is easy to put lots and lots of files on these services once you get going. If you are going to leave files thenre (e.g., you want this share to last a long time) then take a few moments to organize your files into folders. If you only need the file to be stored for a few days (e.g., until your email correspondent reads or retrieves it), make sure you keep track of the files you want to delete eventually.
  • All these services would love for you to put tons of files there and leave them, and to pay a bit of monthlly fee for the privilege. The fees can be pretty low: Google Deive is $2/month for 100Gig of storage beyond the initial free 15 Gig.
  • When you give someone the URL to access the file, ANYONE who gets that URL can access the file. (There are fancy ways to require passwords, but that usually isn’t necessary and we aren’t covering it here).