FTP be damned

New approaches to moving videos, photos across the Internet

The demand for dynamic content on websites, smartphone and tablet apps has put video on par with photography as a sought-after element in much of today’s outdoor media. Yet in most cases high-definition video is typically too large to attach to email and sometimes even to burn to disc.
File transfer protocol, commonly known as FTP, has been a common way to transfer large files, but it isn’t exactly user-friendly. It requires an FTP server, login names and passwords, sometimes an FTP app and most of all, patience to get big files moved. If you are the one doing the downloading, previewing what you’re getting isn’t often possible until the deed is done.
Yet the age of cloud computing is creating some much more streamlined ways to move monster files. Sites such as Senduit.com started this trend, allowing you to upload files up to 100 megabytes for free that can be downloaded by others using a simple emailed web-link. But I like another option even better that only requires you to drag files you look to share to a simple folder on your desktop.
Dropbox popularized this concept, placing a folder on your computer that was synchronized to their servers so your files were not only backed up but available on your other computers, smartphones, tablets — you name it. Then Dropbox took it a step further, though, allowing you to create public folders with an emailable web-link so you could share files instantly.
Once you share a folder, Dropbox creates instant galleries of images and now video as well, complete with thumbnails, lowresolution previews and a full-resolution download link. Eyeing Dropbox’s 50 million users, Microsoft has created a potent competitor called Skydrive with much the same functionality, but offering 7 GB of space to users. Dropbox responded by giving another 3 GB of space for photos and video uploaded directly from your camera. Google is also getting in the game with Google Drive, but so far I haven’t been as impressed with it, nor Apple’s iCloud, when it comes to sharing photos and video. All of them allow you to purchase additional storage space.
Another compelling option is Vimeo, a top competitor to YouTube, but cleaner and more professional looking. Vimeo doesn’t limit your storage space, only how much video you upload per week — 500 MB for free. If you’re willing to shell out $60 per year that leaps to 5 GB per week and allows you to share a download link to your source video. That means you can take a very large video, upload it and create a private link that doesn’t show up in Vimeo’s search, Google or elsewhere if you’re not looking to offer your video to the free world. Only those editors with whom you choose to share a link can preview your videos in gorgeous streaming HD, with the option of downloading the master file, if you choose to allow it. Very handy indeed.
If history is any indication, the storage space offered by these sites should only increase in the future and their ease-of-use should only grow easier. And with any luck, the term FTP will dissolve into the alphabet soup of bygone techno-headaches. ◊
Paul Queneau grew up in Colorado hunting, fishing and backpacking. He started with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Bugle magazine as an intern and is currently the conservation editor. Contact him at pqueneau@RMEF. org.

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