Best Way To Send Lots of Large Images?
February 24, 2009 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Easiest way to send 5,000 hi-res images? Over the internet? Using hard drives and mailing them?

I have to send my client about 5,000 hi-res images currently stored on external hard drives. What is the best way to do this that takes the least amount of time? Would dropbox work? Or should my client just buy and send me a bunch of external hard drives for me to copy the files to?
posted by citystalk to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Without giving us an estimate of how many Gigabytes of data this is, it's going to be difficult to determine the best (fastest) way to send the images.

FWIW, sending "over the Internet" is dependent on many variables, most of which you have no control over--your own ISP's connection speed, the receiver's ISP speed, switching and routing factors in between, etc. The time to upload this much data for the receiver to downod is probably prohibitive.

Some have determined that, depending on the amount of data, FedEx is often faster to transfer data than over any kind of Internet connection. We can't make that kind of determination for you without an estimated data size.
posted by at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2009

Best answer: Your client should just provide you with drives and have them shipped out. It's the easiest way to do this and it gives them a hard backup.
posted by scarello at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

See if your client has a ftp server, upload them in batches, get him the ones he needs most first.

If you do go the drive route, might want to ship two different drives a day apart for redundancy (especially if against a deadline).

How far away is the client?

Do they have to have the images in hi-res? Reducing dpi/size and then sending the full size of the ones they need might be an option.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2009

I would never bother making a client download more than 100-200 MB of files over the Internet. Mail a CD when it's under 750 MB, a DVD when it's under 4.7 GB. I would hope that you and your client have better things to do than wait for more than 4.6 GB to upload and then download.

But you're talking about 5,000 high-res images. Let's say they're 5 MB each. That comes out to about 25 GB. For that, get a 32 GB USB flash drive, copy all the files onto it, and send it Fedex to the client. If they're willing to pay for it, bill them the $65 for the flash drive, otherwise ask them to send it back.
posted by junesix at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

And if it's more than 32 GB total, then yeah, use external hard drives.

At our firm, 32 GB is the magic number for flash drives vs hard drives. 64 GB USB flash drives cost too much while under 32 GB, the lower cost of external hard drives is offset by the increased Fedex shipping cost.
posted by junesix at 10:43 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would say no to Dropbox after recently restoring files from Mozy. FTP, rsync, and DVD's can work but as mrbarrett mentions the receiving end can have a limited connection (I worked for a company that had to send GB's of images and other data from Canada to Poland, and the Poland internet infrastructure was not good), but if you're talking hard drives worth of data, it really is faster for both you and the client to send it courier by hard drive(s), in terms of both you and the client copying the files.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 10:43 AM on February 24, 2009

Send the hard drive (after backing it up, of course). The potential problems with uploads/downloads aren't worth the hassle. The time you save will pay for the hard drive.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2009

Another option not mentioned above is to send blu-ray discs. Currently there are both 25GB and 50GB writable blu-ray discs on the market.
posted by ripple at 11:06 AM on February 24, 2009

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway."
-- Andy Tanenbaum
Unless you both have crazy bandwidth, load them onto a drive and ship it overnight.

FWIW, 'crazy bandwidth' does exist out there - say, if you're both at academic institutions connected via internet2. I downloaded a 700MB Ubuntu distro to Houston from MIT in around 20 seconds the other day.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have some experience with commercial companies that ship images libraries like this. They use a hard drive in a FedEx box.
posted by GuyZero at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2009

I recently did this for a museum that wanted a few thousand high-res images. They FedExed me a hard drive, I loaded the images onto it and and FedExed it back.
posted by ourobouros at 11:44 AM on February 24, 2009

I consider 3-4 gigabytes the largest piece of data Im willing to transfer over the internet to a client. It usually takes all night and can be retried in the morning if there's a problem. Im hesistant to do it unless I know the recipient knows what he or she is doing, has the bandwidth, and is using a tool that can resume downloads.

Lets say each photo is 10 megabytes that means youre trying to send out 50 gigabytes. For your own sanity buy a drive and just mail it out.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:11 PM on February 24, 2009

The shipping for 5-10 DVDs wouldn't be that much more than a thumb drive, and the production cost would be a hell of a lot lower.

I downloaded a 700MB Ubuntu distro to Houston from MIT in around 20 seconds the other day.

I just realized that reading that actually made me lick my lips hungrily. I really need to stop getting visceral physical responses from tech specs and the like...
posted by FatherDagon at 12:31 PM on February 24, 2009

We often ship data from 200m to 100GB.

For us <5>
Any larger or in "not savvy" group we use a courier with a USB hard drive.

We like using breaking the upload into a few archives around 1GB in size, this means you can start using the materials as soon as they arrive in tranches.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:38 PM on February 24, 2009

Opps, looks like metafilter ate my comment after the angle bracket.

For us "less than" 5GB is the magic number for using ftp when "we need it by tomorrow", unless the client seems really small or not technically savvy.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:39 PM on February 24, 2009

Dual layer DVD-Rs are ~8.5GB and are cheap/disposable.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:47 PM on February 24, 2009

Also previously, where the same conclusion was reached: For sending lots of gigabytes, physical media trumps the Internet.
posted by exphysicist345 at 2:20 PM on February 24, 2009

Agreed. Anything over a couple gigs just isn't worth the time and hassle. If you've got a business going, the time invested in troubleshooting flaky connections fer outweighs the cost of a smallish drive.

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway. — Tanenbaum, Andrew S." (1996).
posted by verb at 8:48 PM on February 24, 2009

high res images = at least 10mb each, in my head.

That definitely means physically sending it over.
posted by carpyful at 9:02 PM on February 24, 2009

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