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Creative Computing

Technology for Exchanging Documents

Use these free FTP sites and resources for sending large attachments.

By Kim Plonsky

(Originally appeared in print as "The File Factor")


Although e-mail has become a staple of the modern law office, the ability to transmit large files and data electronically via e-mail attachment can be a daunting task. While paralegals encounter large attachments multiple times on a daily basis and are able to deal with them without incident, there frequently are exceptions. For example, if you ever have sent an e-mail with an attached file and received the dreaded bounced e-mail notification — frequently announced by those curious “Mailer Daemon” lines that appear in your Inbox — then you know what I mean. The Mailer Daemon message doesn’t bother to explain what the problem is, but often the culprit is file size limitations or restrictions.

Sending large files via e-mail can tie up resources on the sender’s and receiver’s computers, depending on variables such as the connection and hardware resources of each. Additionally, Internet and e-mail security measures implemented on either side of the transaction can prevent, restrict or limit the transmission or reception of e-mail with attachments, based on any number of criteria. For example, both the sender’s and receiver’s incoming and outgoing e-mail servers must allow transmission of attachments. In many law offices, e-mail servers often are configured to limit the size of incoming and outgoing e-mail attachments for security reasons.

While these and other types of e-mail and Internet security measures are a vital part of an overall scheme to safeguard entire network systems and workstations, the unintended consequence of restricting attachments can bring a paralegal’s productivity to a grinding halt.

A solution can be as simple as sending multiple e-mails to a recipient, each with one or more file attachments that don’t exceed size restrictions or other limitations. However, I avoid using this method when it requires sending more than two e-mails to a single recipient, which can lead to confusion on both ends of the transaction. Of course, there always is snail mail, if time allows, but that can appear rather antiquated and unprofessional in this day and age.

One way paralegals can maximize efficiency and productivity, as well as use existing technology to its fullest, is to sign up for one of the many file delivery services that are widely available, secure and simple to use.

Free Delivery

There are many delivery services to choose from, with most offering sliding-scale subscription pricing based on factors such as file size limitations, number of simultaneous file transfers and online storage options. However, several pro­viders also offer free services, each with some limitations. The following is the low-down on the best free secure file delivery systems, one or more of which likely will suit your needs.

YouSendIt Lite (www.yousendit.com), based in Mountain View, Calif., is a free Web-based file delivery service that has been around since 2003. With YouSendIt Lite, simply log in (a secure log in is optional) to send a file up to 100MB in size for free, and the designated e-mail recipient receives an e-mail with a Web link to download the file. Users have the choice of sending files securely, files remain available for download for up to seven days, and senders have the option of receiving a copy of the sent e-mail and notification upon download by the recipient.

YouSendIt Lite also features a personal Inbox, address book and history of sent items, but unfortunately doesn’t permit simultaneous multiple file transfers. However, as with the other free file transfer services that are limited to single recipients, there are a couple of workarounds for this. First, multiple files can be compressed and zipped into a single file by using a program such as WinZip, RarLab’s WinRar or Smith Micro’s StuffIt. Additionally, to send the same file to multiple recipients, you simply can send the file to your own e-mail address, and then use your regular e-mail program to forward copies of the file download notification to additional recipients.

SendThisFile (www.sendthisfile.com) is a free Web-based file delivery service by SendThisFile Inc. of Wichita, Kansas. You must have Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or Mozilla FireFox to use it. Similar to YouSendIt Lite, simply sign in to SendThisFile to send an unlimited number of files of up to 2GB to a single recipient. The designated e-mail recipient then receives an e-mail from SendThisFile with a Web link to download the file.

Users have the choice of sending files securely and have the option of receiving a copy of the sent e-mail and notification upon download by the recipient. All sent files remain available for download for up to three days (up to three downloads per file). SendThisFile also features a nifty tool to create a “FileBox,” in which visitors can deposit files directly to your Web site.

Pando (www.pando.com) by Pando Networks Inc. of New York is a free small beta application (approximately 2MB) that must be installed on your computer (Mac­intosh or PC). Pando sends files and folders to multiple recipients, encrypted end-to-end, up to 1GB in size, with drag-and-drop functionality. Pando promises no spyware or adware, and offers plug-in programs for Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft Outlook.

Possible drawbacks are that Pando currently is available only as a beta version, and an account is required for the recipient to download the sent files (a program download link is provided in the e-mail notification to the recipient).

Dliveo for Windows (www.dliveo.com) by UltraSend Inc., a new company based in Atlanta, delivers multiple 128-bit encrypted files of any size, tracks and verifies delivery, enables recipients to accept or decline deliveries, and bypasses e-mail systems by delivering directly from PC to PC (to a “MyDocuments/MyDliveo” folder). Dliveo allows up to 100 recipients per transfer. Like Pando, possible drawbacks are that Dliveo is currently available only as a beta version, and an account is required for the recipient to download the sent files (a program download link is provided in the e-mail notification to the recipient). Also, Dliveo requires its Desktop Agent to be running in your Windows system tray.

MegaUpload (www.megaupload.com), is a fast, free and secure Web-based file delivery service that requires neither registration nor software installation. Simply go to the Web site and select a file from your PC, up to 250MB in size, to send to a single recipient by clicking the “Browse” button. Recipients then are sent an e-mail with a link to download the file. Files are hosted for free forever, but are deleted if not accessed in 30 days.

Other Noteworthy Options

The following free file transferring and sharing services are noteworthy, although they are not likely suitable for business use as they don’t offer the added security of data encryption.

Rapid Share (http://rapidshare.de) by RapidTec, a German company, provides free Web-based file hosting and sharing. A user can upload a single file at a time, up to 300MB in size, without registration. The user then is supplied a unique URL, which links to the uploaded file and can be shared with others who want to download the file.

Bigupload (www.bigupload.com) by Bigupload.com Inc. is a free Web-based file transfer service similar to RapidShare. However, Bigupload does require account registration and is recommended for use with a Firefox Web browser. With Bigupload, a user can transfer single files of up to 300MB, which are available for unlimited download. Files not downloaded for 30 days are deleted. Bigupload offers a unique feature that automatically generates a URL that can be copied and posted to online forums — quite a handy tool for members of online forums who want to post a file to a group.

DropSend (www.dropsend.com) by Carson Systems of Bath, England, offers registered users up to five free Web-based transfers per month to multiple recipients of files up to 1GB. An added bonus with DropSend is free online storage (up to 250MB), which can be used to back up files or to make files available from remote locations to yourself and others. DropSend also offers a free cool desktop uploader tool (for PC and Macintosh), available at www.dropsend.com/uploadtools.php, which makes sending or backing up entire folders and files as easy as dragging and dropping to a folder on your desktop.

Don’t let e-mail attachments bog you down or force you to take a technological step backward. Whether you use a PC or a Macintosh, Internet Explorer or Firefox, or prefer a software or Web-based solution, think ahead and choose one or more of the many file transfer services and systems available today while they are still free. Don’t wait until you hear from Mailer Daemon to start your search for the right file transfer service for you.



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