Friday, May 9, 2008

Three Free Alternatives to Email for Large Files

If your school district's network is anything like mine, you're probably not given nearly as much space in your email box as you can get with a commercial email account. This is especially troublesome for teachers who either email large files regularly or collect a lot of student work electronically. One solution would be to create a commercial email account (Hotmail provides 1gb of storage), but unfortunately a lot of commercial email services are blocked by many school districts. Today, I'd like to share three file sharing and hosting services that I've used in the last year to work around this problem. All three of these file sharing and hosting services are very quick and easy to use.

Drop.io first caught my attention last fall when it launched with a very simple and clean user interface. Drop.io allows you to upload large files to the web and assign your "drop" or bundle of files a unique url. The feature of drop.io I like best is that once you've established a drop you can add or delete files from the drop at a later time. If you would like you can allow other people to add files or notes to your drop. Drop.io offers four methods of adding files to a drop, web, email, fax, or phone. Drop.io also offers an upload widget for your drop that you can embed into a blog or website. Back in March I started using the upload widget on my classroom blog and students quickly started using that to submit assignments rather than emailing me attachments.

File Dropper is a very simple file sharing system. There are only two steps to using File Dropper, upload your file then share your personal url with others. File Dropper is fast and it works, I used it a couple times this year for large files, but it is not nearly as feature rich as Drop.io. You cannot edit your uploaded files from your url and you cannot have other add files or notes to your url. The advantage of File Dropper over similar services is its large, 5GB, capacity.

Rapid Share
is a file sharing and hosting service that is very similar to File Dropper. Rapid Share claims to have some of the fastest upload times on the web. I uploaded some files to Rapid Share and it was a very quick upload, my large (1.1mb) pictured uploaded in 5-7 seconds. Using Rapid Share is a two step process just like the one File Dropper uses.