Have you ever tried to send someone an e-mail with an attachment that you wanted to share, something you were passionate about, only to discover it has been rejected by the server?
Even if you don't know what a server is or why it rejects attachments, it happens.
Servers are the computers that filter, store and forward communications at both your ISP and the recipients'. Some will reject files larger than 5 MB, while others allow up to 20 MB. Even if yours will allow a large file to be sent, it may be blocked at the other end. There is though, a way around this obstacle.
Short of attaching your video, song or string of images to an e-mail, you can upload it to a file-sharing Web site. Each works somewhat differently, but is basically the same. Most have free plans that allow you to share your files with your buddies. File size may be limited, but is still 10 times or more than what your ISP would allow.
Your files are viewed by invitation, encrypted for security and optionally password protected should you want a heightened defense.
Some allow only one file at a time, some have time limits; how long the file could stay at the site. Others limit the amount of times the file may be accessed, still usually at least 100 times though.
Let's begin with dropbox.com. After you download and install a small applet, you have a program that will sync the files on all of your computers and will also let you share files with others.
At sendthisfile.com, it's all done from their site. After registration, you can send any size file, but it will only remain available for three days and with the free plan, you can send to only three recipients.
With ofile.com, you have 3GB of free storage space with their provisional plan. It's good for two months.
Wetransfer.com offers 2GB of free storage and there is no registration required, making it extremely easy to use. From their site, enter the files to share, your e-mail address and those of your recipients along with an optional message. Hit transfer and that's it. Your files can be shared with up to 20 others and will be there for two weeks.
Filedropper.com, also easy to use, allows 5 GB of free storage and as long as the file is being downloaded, it is kept on their servers. After you upload a file, you copy a link and send to your friends to download it.
At yousendit.com, their Lite account is free for a gigabyte of storage and transfer. You can only send one file at a time, but it can be up to 100 MB.
None of these file-sharing sites slam you with ads or banners promoting some other cause. At wetransfer, the background is an ad, but more like a screensaver and is more pleasant than annoying.
These sites offer free plans with the hopes you'll want you to buy into one of their pay plans. There is no waiting while you watch an advertisement. You get a link to a file and that's it.
Obviously, the paid plans on all of the sites are enhanced. They have faster speeds; allow larger files, more recipients and options such as tracking, express delivery and resumable uploads or downloads should a connection be interrupted.
You'll also have the option of keeping a file private, so only you can see it (for backup purposes).
Yousendit for example, installs a plug-in that becomes integrated to Outlook. When you attempt to send a file, it asks if you want to attach it to an e-mail or use their service instead.
Keep in mind there is more to these services than simple file sharing with others. It is also a good way use the cloud to back up your important files. Duplicate the ones you don't want to chance losing. Send up copies of best photos, your tax documents and your resume.
The primary purpose of these sites and of this column though, is to stress the ease at which one can share files with others. To give you an idea how easy this can be, I'll share a file with you. Go to this link: http://www.filedropper.com/arthur-image and get my byline photo. It may not be a keepsake, but you'll get an idea how easy the process is.
It took 20 seconds to upload it and should take just as long to download. Normally, someone would have e-mailed the link to you.
Go to the Web sites listed above and give them a try. You'll see the differences between them, and with all, how easy file-sharing can be. Perhaps initially, send yourself a file to test the process. Use the file I sent you if you want.
Forget about worrying whether your file is too large an attachment for you to e-mail. Try sharing instead of attaching.
Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly. Arthur welcomes your computer questions and ideas for future columns.