Share Large Files with Ease

This is a reprint that originally appeared in the Register-News some time ago.

Rick Hicks from our forums suggested that I write about how to create an FTP server to share files that are too big to email. This is a very good idea, but we try to keep this column targeted toward general knowledge. Building and configuring an FTP server is not impossible by any means, but it is beyond the scope of this column.

Instead of trying to instruct everyone about File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Domain Name Server (DNS), port forwarding through a firewall (aren’t you running one by now?), file permissions, and the other pieces of an FTP server we found something much easier – Dropbox.

Dropbox ( is an extremely simple program to use on any PC. Like most programs, you will just download the software, install, and begin using the program. Nothing much to do on the surface of Dropbox but to drop your files into a share in the Dropbox folder and then share the folder via an email invitation with whomever you want. Pretty simple to do for anyone.

Underneath the simple surface, what the program does is more involved than many realize. When you place a file in the Dropbox folder or your shared folder, the Dropbox software begins copying the file to your account on the Dropbox server. Then, when you access your Dropbox account from another computer or someone who you have shared with starts their computer, the Dropbox software downloads the file in the background.

The end result of this hidden uploading and downloading is that you can place pictures of the kids in a folder, share it with grandma, and her computer downloads it automatically. Need to share a project for school? Put it in Dropbox and share it. Everyone can see the file and work on it as needed.

Dropbox is not the only software or service to perform these functions, but I find it very easy and use it myself. Their file transfer is encrypted, as is the information on their servers. Personally, I do not recommend putting anything sensitive like passwords or financial information in your Dropbox, but I’m paranoid. Their security is pretty good for common use if you’re not trading government secrets.

Dropbox is free to use for up to 2GB of information. They also offer paid subscriptions of $99 for 50GB of space or $199 for 100GB of space. If you can get away with using that amount of space, I strongly recommend using them for an easy backup. Bear in mind, this service (like most) is best used with a broadband Internet connection such as cable, wireless, or even DSL.

Please give Dropbox a shot and let me know what you think.