Sending big files overseas.
June 29, 2011 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Help me send large files to a friend.

I have some large files (totaling 4 or 5 GB) that I want to send to friends in Germany (I'm in the United States.) I've been considering a few different possibilities. The ability to resume download/upload would be a very useful thing in any case. I'm Windows, they're Mac. Also, due to some of the content, this may not be entirely in accordance with copyright law (yarrr).

Snail Mail: This is a good last resort, I guess. But there has to be a faster, cheaper internet way to do it, right?

FTP: I don't think my friends are too FTP-savvy. My upload rate is pretty low, so a direct FTP transfer would probably only work well overnight. If there's a good Mac FTP client that supports download resuming and is easy to configure, this might be a good solution.

Dropbox: Only supports up to 2GB for free. Though, we could use two shared 2GB accounts. Or I could wait for the first half to transfer, then delete it and upload the rest. With Dropbox though, it doesn't tell you how long it will take to sync the files, does it? I mean, on either side, we might be waiting for hours without knowing when it will finish transferring.

HTTP: I suppose I could upload everything to my web host and send them a link to it. Aren't most web hosts generally averse to you using their servers as file sharing space, though? In particular, I have a HostGator shared server.

Torrent: I have never made a torrent file. Can I host it myself? Is this inefficient if it's only one seeder to one downloader?

Other: Got any ideas?
posted by MrFTBN to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
you could break them up into .rar files and send them .rar files.
posted by TheBones at 1:12 PM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

What sort of file is it? Maybe you can compress it.
posted by catwash at 1:14 PM on June 29, 2011

Best answer: Dropbox does have a progress indicator, you just need to click on the icon.
posted by halogen at 1:17 PM on June 29, 2011

If there is only one seeder there's no advantage to Bittorrent over direct FTP. I'd probably go with compress+encrypt, upload to your webserver into a password-protected directory, and let them download at your leisure.
posted by lantius at 1:19 PM on June 29, 2011

Response by poster: It's a folder containing a bunch of different file types. Most of them are already zipped. Sending a bunch of small(ish) .rar or .zip files is another solution, I guess. But unzipping/unrar'ing them and putting it back together might be a bit of a hassle on their end.

halogen: Ah, ok. Good to know.
posted by MrFTBN at 1:19 PM on June 29, 2011

If you both have Macs, iChat (comes for free on Macs) makes this SUPER EASY. Just drag a file in and it sends it. Lotsa people don't realize you can do this.
posted by Murray M at 1:20 PM on June 29, 2011

TheBones is right, rar would be great to use here. Why?

What if your upload craps out halfway, unless you have a program that allows resuming transfers you will have to re-upload the entire file. By sending a bunch of smaller rar files you can just reupload the ones that weren't transferred. Same on the download side.

If either of you have usage caps then you can use one ISP for transferring until the cap is hit and then transfer the rest on a different ISP.

If you create some par files with the rars then in the case where every rar file isn't able to be transferred for some reason, or some get corrupted, your friends will still be able to extract the file.

Uploading 4-5 gigs may take some time. By sending in smaller chunks you can stop transferring if you or other people need to use the internet and then resume when no one else is using it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:23 PM on June 29, 2011

I prefer 7zip these days to rar. If you set it to maximum compression it'll take a bit on your side for it to all compress, but it's not a big deal.

You might split it between Dropbox and YouSendIt or similar.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2011

No matter how you do it, you'll be hindered by your upload speed. The only difference is what your friends perceive, and if they can resume downloads.

FTP: If you can set one up, it would be as simple as sending them some links, as browsers have been treating FTP sites like websites for a while. You can send them a link to your own server with a login and password if you're worried about security. But browsing this way (vs using a client) may be weird for a lot of files.

Dropbox: activities are go on behind the scenes, and it appears more straightforward

Webhost: case-by-case. HostGator claims to offer unlimited storage space, so a one-time upload and download (or even multiple downloads) may not be terrible. You many want to contact them directly, just to avoid surprises.

Torrent: if they haven't used it before, it could be a bit tricky. And I'm not sure how to set up a tracker, though you could play with trackerless torrents.

Sharing through chat programs: the depends on how the chat programs handle queued sending and file resuming, but there are a lot of options with this.

I'd suggest you splitrar the whole directory, and get a program to verify checksums, ensuring the files are all complete and correct before trying to unpack. If a few files are corrupted, you can re-send individual files, like others have said.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2011

You can use a number of instant messaging programs to do this. Skype can stream files, for instance.
posted by bonehead at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2011

The Opera browser has a built in web server / sharing function. They could download it directly from your PC. It might take all night though.
posted by COD at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

And 7-zip is nice, but I think it's a Windows-only program.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2011

Check out Dropbox.
posted by lobbyist at 1:32 PM on June 29, 2011

And 7-zip is nice, but I think it's a Windows-only program.

Which is why you can use Ez7z on Macs.
posted by birdherder at 1:32 PM on June 29, 2011

You could get a mediatemple gridservice web hosting account, upload the stuff to a folder and password protect it (pretty sure you can do that easily in their control panel). Any other web hosting account with enough space would work really.

This sort of thing is nice because it can be asynchronous and doesn't require them to install any special software (well, they may have to install 7zip if you use that).

Just keep the account open until all the files are transferred. you'd have space to have all the files available and have them in big downloadable compressed (rar, 7z) chunks.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 2:14 PM on June 29, 2011

Opera Unite.
posted by Obscure Reference at 2:34 PM on June 29, 2011

Response by poster: That Opera feature looks neat. If only everyone used Opera ... *dreams*

Turns out she already has a Dropbox account and that looks like it might be the easiest (although not the most efficient) way to do this. I'll try compressing files and uploading the first big chunk (between 1 and 2 GB) tonight and see how it goes.

Otherwise, uploading to my web server and letting her download the files with her browser sounds like the best way. But HostGator's TOS makes me think this is possibly not a good idea. I think they're mostly concerned with people hosting 'warez' sites on their servers that host illegal material and can attract a ton of traffic from random users, not hosting private files for one or two people. But within the content section of their TOS, this sentence alone was bolded: "Using a shared account as a backup/storage device is not permitted". If my previous bandwidth usage has been in the neighborhood of MB/month, I don't know if suddenly tranferring almost 10GB would be some sort of red flag, or hit my bandwidth cap (which I can't seem to find).
posted by MrFTBN at 3:07 PM on June 29, 2011

Use bittorrent. It's easy to make a .torrent file, add a free tracker, then just email the .torrent file to your friend. Then just leave your computer on all night. No need to upload it to a website.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:08 PM on June 29, 2011

Also try rapidshare, or Mega Upload (easier with a free account).

Definitely would let you do large volume RAR's if you want to break it up and compress everything. Or install Teamviewer( and use the file transfer utility so you can let it just run over night.
posted by psiwave at 8:44 PM on June 29, 2011

Burn a DVD, send it airmail and when it arrives you can, with a sense of relief, give up on sending the files electronically.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 11:47 PM on June 29, 2011

Best answer: I'd recommend using Amazon Web Services's Simple Storage Service (S3):
Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, secure, fast, inexpensive infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.
There are no setup fees or monthly fees. In fact, they just made uploads free, so sharing 5GB of content will cost about $1 for your friends to download once, assuming you delete the files again afterwards. Moreover, the maximum filesize is 5TB, however I'd suggest using a file compression application's volume support to split the files up into smaller pieces, as others have suggested here, to offset your poor upload speed and hence the risk of interruptions during your upload.

Unfortunately using Amazon S3 by itself may be a bit intimidating, depending on your technical skills and background. I find it ridiculously easy to use, but you may be more comfortable using a piece of software that does the uploading for you, such as:
  • S3Fox Organizer: The S3Fox Organizer(S3Fox) [is a Firefox extension that] offers the ability to upload or download files to and from Amazon S3. The interface, which opens in a Firefox browser tab, looks much like that of FTP clients with a dual-pane layout.
  • Dragon Disk: DragonDisk is a file-management system for the Amazon S3 Service.

posted by asymptotic at 4:33 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, I should probably be using Amazon S3 for this and several other things. Maybe not this week, but some time soon I ought to get an account. It seems like a great service.
posted by MrFTBN at 10:02 AM on July 1, 2011

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