The problems we outlined with sending large files remains. Despite some web based email services increasing the file size of email attachments, it still isn’t enough. It used to be people sent large PowerPoint presentations to business colleagues. Now, people send videos, podcasts and large graphic files. These file attachments aren’t exactly welcomed by your email provider or system administrator.
Web Based File Delivery Solutions
To get around these file size limitations, web based file delivery systems have been developed. These systems allow you fill out a web form with fields for the sender and recipient and upload a file using your browser. The recipient gets an email with a link to that file. The screen snap below shows the YouSendIt Send File form.
As you can see, the form is simple in design. There are some “gotchas” you should be aware of to make the process even smoother if you plan to use the free account. Many of these file transfer services have tiered programs, but YouSendIt has more of a hybrid approach. You can opt to subscribe to a monthly plan or pay to send a larger file.
YouSendIt Account Plans
The company has four monthly plans. These range in cost from free (Lite plan) to $29.99 (Business Plus) per month. The plans differ based on:
- File size
- File retention
- Monthly bandwidth consumption
- Number of files you can send per transmission
- Ad suppression
- Password protection
- Corporate branding
Even if you have a free account, you can pay to use features on a one-off basis. As example, you can pay $2.99 for authenticated file delivery with tracking. You could also send up to 2 GB per file for $5.99. While $5.99 may sound expensive, consider the cost of a delivery service or the time it would take to teach someone how to use FTP with a web browser.
Creating an Account
You may notice on the Send File form above that there is no field for my name, just my email address. However, if I select a checkbox, the company wants me to create an account. The same is true if you send a file between 20MB and 100MB. After you fill the form and click SEND IT, you get the error message below.
I realize the company isn’t going to know the size of my file until I start uploading, but it would be nice if they put some informational text on the Send File page to alert users of the added fees and size limits. Once you create your free account, the fees do show for these optional features.
To create a YouSendIt account, I needed to provide:
- First name
- Last name
- Email address
- Age range
You should get an activation email within 15 minutes. In my case, it took 4 minutes for that email to arrive. If the email doesn’t arrive, there is a link on the website’s support page to resend it.
Sending Your File
Although the system didn’t retain my previous form values, it did remember that I requested secure transmission. This link appears on the bottom of the Send File form. When I came back, I could see the HTTPS designation in my browser address bar and the padlock.
Once you click the SEND IT button, an upload screen appears showing your progress and file name. The estimated time continually adjusts based on network factors. Your times may also differ based on whether you’re using secure transmission since it adds some overhead. I was glad to see they reminded users not to close the page or use the browser’s Back button. The initial estimate for this 50 MB pod cast was roughly 5 minutes, but quickly corrected itself to the truer transmission time of 15 minutes.
In reading the company blog, I noticed a tip that is worth mentioning. It’s always better to know these items before a problem arises.
… if you experience problems and need to contact customer support: jot down the number of the file server (it shows up under the browser window on most browsers, usually as FTF- and a 3-digit number, such as FTF-100) and include it in your message. This helps tracking down your issues.
You can see an example of this FTF number in my Firefox status bar.
I was delighted to find that when I clicked the link to request support, much of my form was pre-filled such as my browser, OS and the last file I sent. YouSendIt also provided an alternate email address if the web form didn’t work. I wish other companies would do this.
As expected my file transfer was smooth. Once the file was uploaded, I got the following notice in my browser. The intentionally blurred line was the file name. The company also reminds you of your account permissions.
Since this is a free account, the sender and recipient will see an ad. I thought the ad was fine and I even clicked to get the Post-It Flags samples. 3M isn’t as fast on their delivery times though as they take 6-8 weeks. My guess is 18 year old males won’t get this ad, but I a different one.
Shortly after your file is uploaded, you get a notice from YouSendIt indicating your file has been sent. You also get a link to the file. The recipient gets a similar email with a link to the file’s location. It also states the name of the file and who sent it. Based on your account type, the recipient may see an ad.
The file size also plays a role for the recipient. Specifically, if I have a free account and send a file over 20 MB, the recipient must open an account with YouSendIt. If the file was under 20 MB, this restriction doesn’t apply. The tip here is either get a paid account or make sure the recipient is comfortable with opening an account. Unless I’m mistaken, I didn’t see this point documented.
One reason I liked this service was that the company is extending their platform by creating partnerships and plug-ins for various software products. These add-ons are designed to work with popular graphic packages from Adobe and Corel. They also have one in beta for Outlook 2003, but I wasn’t able to test it since I use Outlook 2007. Although the service will work for occasional use, it is clear the company is catering to heavy users and trying to make the file transfer process easier.
I was pleased with the YouSendIt service. I would prefer they add more details so senders knew about some of the limitations of free accounts beforehand. It would also be nice if they fixed the formatting of their Terms of Services page. It seems they have extra
HTML tags. However, these items are nits compared to what they offer. The service offers a great solution and value for people needing to securely send large files to others. Moreover, YouSendIt is a heck of a lot easier than FTP.
Update 07/12/2007 YouSendIt added a new desktop application. This allows you to send files to YouSendIt without using your browser. The software can also handle items such as broken communications and can resume file transfer. The current version just works with Windows XP SP2.
Additional Information:URL: http://www.yousendit.com/
Cost: Free to $29.99 per month
Related Articles:Sending Email to Groups in Microsoft Outlook
Last Updated (Saturday, 19 June 2010 09:18)