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Handy service helps send large files
Special to The Seattle Times
Now that broadband is practically ubiquitous, you don't have to ask permission to send a large document through e-mail. PowerPoint presentations, family pictures and Quicktime movies are all fair game.
The acceptable file size has crept upward to the point where one size does not fit everyone, but I know few people who will question sending any file smaller than 5 MB. This is unfortunate, because some people out there still use dial-up and others would rather not invite images of your summer vacation to their hard drive.
File sizes are destined to increase, along with our desire to send them to other people. So before we push the limits of patience and technology, it makes sense to take a look at YouSendIt, a service that transfers large files without bogging down standard e-mail channels (although you need to keep in mind that it's still not an option on dial-up connections).
The service uses the typical pricing structure, where the highest rate gets the fancy features and nonpaying users get the ads. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Many people will certainly sit though a few annoying messages in exchange for access to the software.
The targeted business users are people who have the need to swap big files — artists, designers and videographers — but who don't have an IT department and huge servers to manage data flow. To this end, the service has developed a ridiculously simple interface. You go to www.yousendit.com. You then enter an e-mail address, add a few lines of explanatory text and attach the file. You don't even need to register.
The recipient will receive a message with a link to the file, for immediate download. This is easy enough for anyone to understand and use — although there is a warning for those who send files larger than 100 MB. (The largest file size accommodated is 4 GB, though most users will send files between 10 MB and 100 MB, according to the company.)
No matter how well this may work, senders need to let recipients know what to expect. If you aren't clear about the origins, and your recipients get instructions to click a strange link from someone they have never heard of, they will certainly treat the message as spam.
This is actually not only easier than sending files through regular e-mail, but there is a sense that you are becoming more efficient. It doesn't create extra copies of the attachment in your sent-mail folder, and it gives your recipient a choice of downloading a large file or not.
Florian Brody, YouSendIt's senior director of marketing communications, said the service can be used by anyone who sends large files regularly and doesn't want to get bogged down by the software. This includes printing houses that make pictures for billboards and doctors looking for a second opinion about a certain set of X-rays.
"This is for people who may not be tech savvy," he said. "But they need a safe and secure way to send files reliably from one place to another. And it's accomplished without an additional client. All you need is a browser."
Not everyone will sense am immediate need for this service, as most of the files people send to their friends are within acceptable limits. But it makes sense to write down www.yousendit.com in a little glass case, to break when the need arises.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company