26 Oct 2016

Deciphering Large File Sharing, Sending, Storage (Part 1)

As many know, email is not naturally well suited for sending file attachments of more than ten megabytes. One can never be sure if the recipient’s system will accept very large attachment transmissions.

Sharing family photos? No problem. There are lots of tools to send these.

Sharing sensitive business files that are too large to send by normal email? Well, you might want to consider more specialized large file sharing services.

Certain large file sending and sharing tools have evolved that specialize in sharing large business or personal files – the leading tools address needs beyond basic “file sharing”, such as:

  1. Can you still “attach-and-send” from your email program? Most users enjoy the “attach-and-send” convenience of email; convenience that increases productivity.
  2. Are transferred files stored “forever” until manually deleted? Many become concerned with how to ensure that large files transferred with online cloud storage tools are not left online, forgotten after the urgent need for delivery has been met. Will you remember to clean up online storage?
  3. If files are stored in online file sharing systems, who else has access to these files? Who is the “administrator” of a user’s account or system – can other staff or your consultants go online and view all the documents ever shared?
  4. How can you send large files with one-time transmissions — and guarantee that links sent to external recipients are not bringing recipients back to your “master” online cloud file storage repository, potentially exposing your information? What if the link brings the user back to a higher level folder where they can see more than the documents intended for sharing?
  5. If a link is sent to the recipient by the email, they may forever have a “pending” status… how can you track successful delivery of the “invitation to download” email? You may want to know if, when the delivery status is “pending”, the recipient received the email invitation and simply did not download, or if he just did not get your email invitation to download.

Considering these and other potential issues, we will decipher the features that are today becoming essential to those sharing important files; features that you might want to look for in a large file sharing tool.

  1. “One-Time-Send” for Large File Sharing: Will you remember to clean up online storage? This feature is best suited for sending a large file, or a set of documents (many in number and/or large in aggregate size) where you would like to create aone-time online repository that the recipient or a group of recipients can access over a pre-set period of time (automatically deleting after the time period).
  2. “Auto-Purge” for Deletion of Online Storage after Sharing Period: This feature automatically purges the files after a set time period so that the sender does not have to worry about sensitive files remaining in various online storage locations.
  3. “Auto-Detect Optimized Sending Method” Simply attach files to Microsoft Outlook regardless of size, and the add-on tool determines if the aggregate size of the files is above a set size threshold, and if so, sends using the file transfer service versus normal email.
  4. “Send from Outlook” Send extra-large files from within the familiar Microsoft Outlook email compose interface, removing the need to visit and access third party websites to manage uploads, downloads, and logins.
  5. “Tracking Visibility” of successful delivery of invitation to download email: Without tracking visibility, you will see the “pending” status whether the invitation to download email goes missing (and they do!) or the recipient simply does not download. Which is it?
  6. “Certified Proof” of files transmitted: Many need a record to irrefutably prove the timestamp of when they sent the files, regardless of recipient actions, with an audit trail.
  7. “Secure Transmission” for downloads: One may have a requirement to ensure that files downloaded are done so through a secure Internet connection.
  8. “Encrypt” One may need a higher level of protection – to ensure only the intended recipient can access the files, and/or access the links to download the files.
  9. “Co-work on Same Document”: Some may view these services as not only large file sending and sharing tools, but also as collaboration tools. One should be aware, however, that some of these services may analyze and categorize document content and use key words in documents for further marketing to users.
  10. “Long-term” Storage Some may view these services as long term archive storage. One should consider if these are good places to store one’s sensitive documents, or client related documents, as again, some of these services may analyze documents for key words and use this information to generate profiles on users. Further, these same services might not be great for sharing one-time files for a variety of reasons. In particular, one might not want to provide a recipient access or awareness of the online file repository.

Business users are the most anxious about several elements when sending a large file: (a) files may be stored long after the intended duration, (b) not knowing if the recipient is being requested to sign up for an account to access files, (c) seeing the “pending” delivery status of an invitation email and not knowing if the invitation went missing or if the recipient simply did not or could not access the download link, and finally, (d) not knowing who might have “administrative access” to see shared files.

This may sound complicated. In Part 2 of this topic, we will provide a simple map so that you can see which service providers have considered these points and have addressed them with features. Continue to Part 2 of Deciphering Large File Sharing, Sending, Storage.