What is the best way to share large files
I see a lot of file hosting recommendations lately for files that are larger than 1 Gigabyte and I was always wondering why the writers thought that this was the best way to share those files. Uploading large files to a file hoster has several advantages - but also disadvantages - which I would like to outline in the following paragraphs.
The advantages can be described in the following way: The user who is sending the file only needs to upload it once and makes it available to all other users that receive the download link that points to the file on the hoster's website (if that is supported of course). Downloads may be faster for users depending on how the file hoster handles that. Some limit traffic to free users, while others may limit the number of downloads in a certain period of time, or have no restrictions at all in this regard.
Disadvantages however outweigh the advantages in my opinion. First of all there are privacy issues. I would not upload personal files to a third party website even if they are password protected. It happened in the past that file hosters took their websites down because they miscalculated the traffic costs and possible earnings which meant that all files hosted there were.. gone.
They usually have a time or download limit and remove files after that limit has been reached. Uploading a 1 Gigabyte movie of your latest holidays takes some time and it would not be nice if not all of the recipients where able to download the file in time. Nothings better than uploading the file again, eh? Wrong!
There are several ways to share large files that are more reliable. The first, and really the best way that I can think of, is to simply burn the files to CD or DVD and hand them to the person who wants them. This takes care of the middle-man and is the preferred method for that kind of things. Similar options exist if Flash drives or other removable media are available as they can be used for that purpose as well. The advantage of this method is that you do not have to upload or download files to share them.
Another option would be to upload the files to your own webspace. I have a dedicated server that has 320 Gigabytes of space and it would take a few seconds to create a new directory and a ftp account on that server. This would mean that you have to upload the file once but it would stay there for as long as you want and there would not be privacy concerns associated with it.
Offering the files as torrents is another possibility. This is a great method if you got a lot of recipients. Sharing takes longer however and you will upload more Gigabytes this way. Still, no privacy concerns and the possibility to stop and start seeding the torrent at will are positive arguments.
Still another possibility is to run a local ftp server or file sharing client such as HTTP File Server which enables you to share any files you select from your local PC. This means however that your PC needs to be up and running so that others can download the files.
My favorite way is to burn them on disk followed by my own upload spot on my dedicated server. I don't like using file hosts at all.
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