The Summit by BombDog on Flickr
Have you ever tried to send someone audio files via email? Or worse still, video files? Working in the music & multimedia education field I find myself frequently needing to send or receive recordings of songs, photos, videos and presentations to a range of people that include students, attendees of my training sessions, clients and colleagues. These sorts of files are simply too big for email and if you’re like me, you’ll do anything to avoid resorting to burning a disk, finding a padded envelope and making the long trek to the Post Office.
The easy solution is to use a file sharing website: you upload files from your computer to the site and provide the location details to your recipient or group of recipients. They can then visit the site and download the files they need. It’s a digital “locker”, if you like.
My own use of these sites includes:
- Distributing session notes to attendees of my training sessions or conference presentations. Many are happy to have an electronic copy and we save a few trees in the process
- Sharing collections of loops, sound effects and videos for film scoring workshops
- Receiving audio recordings and MIDI files for transcribing or arranging jobs I’m working on
- Receiving large scores for orchestral copying work
File-sharing sites are also particularly useful for itinerant music teachers without a permanent office or computer. They can store their own schedules, student lists and other working documents which are then accessible from any computer in any school. I know of one teacher that uploads backing tracks so that his students can download them at home for practice purposes and another that uses a file-sharing site for student assignment submissions.The Basics
If you’ve never used a file-sharing site before, here’s how it works:
- You go to the file-sharing website (see options below)
- Sign-in (if applicable)
- Click the upload button
- Select the files you want to send and then wait while the files upload
- When the upload process is finished there will be a link (web address) you can email to your friend. When they click on the link, they’ll see your file/s and be able to download them to their own computer.
Most sites offer a free service for files (a single file or combination of files) up to a 100MB in size and there are a few that offer uploads of 200MB, 500MB, or even more. There’s also a paid option if you need more space.
To give you an idea of file sizes, consider the following rough guide:
- PDFs or Word documents are usually small enough to be measured in kilobytes and are suitable to email
- A single photo at high resolution can be 5-10MB or more
- A 3-minute pop song in MP3 format (compressed) can be around 5MB
- A 3-minute pop song in WAV format can be around 50MB
- A 7-minute cartoon might be 70MB
My two favourite file-sharing websites have been drop.io and Mediafire, but there are plenty of other choices out there, like Soundcloud which was designed specifically for sharing audio files.
Drop.io is simple to use, you don’t need to sign up to use it and it includes lots of extras like the voice memo feature. You can password-protect your “drop” and you can even opt to receive notifcations when files are downloaded from – or added to – your drop.
MediaFire is also straightforward to use, allows uploads up to 100MB and if you choose to set up a user name you can access extra features like the ability to organise your collections of files into folders.
Soundcloud is a recent discovery, but looks like a great solution for audio files. Soundcloud supports AIFF, WAV, FLAC, OGG, MP3 and AAC files and you can choose to make your uploaded files public (for anyone to access) or private (accessible only by those you grant access). You do need to sign up for this service, but one huge benefit is that there’s no file-size limit.
If you’re interested in reading about some of the other file-sharing options, there’s a useful comparison chart here.