There was a time when moving large documents and files electronically was a real headache. The classic example was when a client had large images or documents that we needed to incorporate into the website. The two most commonly used solutions both had significant problems.
Email attachments are not efficient.
Although it seems easy, simply attaching the files we needed was problematic. All to often, we'd end up with an email that had attachments that were just to large to make it from one computer to another. More often than not, the messages with the attachments were rejected by the email systems at either end because of the size of the file. The standard email is a small file and adding 20 plus megabytes is a shock to system. Sometimes they simply get blocked, other times they bottleneck the system and lock up the email software.
The workaround solutions aren't as simple as they need to be. After a couple unsuccessful attempts, I've had clients send me multiple emails, each with one file attached. Yes that works, but the effort to create all of these emails, give them unique subjects lines and attach each one picture to it is time intensive. Alternatively, the more savvy clients use compression software and combine the files into one .ZIP file. As long as the compressed file isn't too big this can work, however, this isn't a solution that seems to work for the average person - the multiple step process makes it too complicated.
Flash drives, thumb drives, or compact discs are not efficient either.
If I have to get into a car and take it in person to someone, I'm using up time that could be better spent building the websites we've been contracted to do. Okay, if we load up a flash drive with a bunch of files at our initial meeting that works, but afterwards, it's a waste of our time and our clients.
FTP software is not easy for the average user.
I use FTP software all day everyday, it's an essential tool I need to work. I really like WinSCP and find it intuitive and efficient without a lot of excess bells and whistles. However, after setting up multiple FTP accounts and unique client directories, I've found the layman business owner finds it far too difficult and intimidating. More than one client has said "Are you sure I won't break something if I put stuff there?", but more often than not, even after a comprehensive demo and training session on using it, they just don't (or won't) use it.
To work we something that's both efficient and easy to use.
Dropbox is an efficient and easy-to-use solution.
Once we create a folder and share it with the client, the client can access Dropbox via easy to install software or an easy to access website. It takes only seconds to create and share the folder and it's each folder is completely private. Even though it's "in the cloud," only those we give access to can view the files it holds.
The desktop software is fantastic. Once I've installed it, when I open the app on my desktop, it opens up a folder view exactly like my Windows explorer. I can simply click and drag files right into the folder and they almost instantly become available for both of us to see.
The price is hard to beat. The basic account is free and starts with 2GB of storage space. There are more comprehensive solutions available for additional monthly costs which include additional storage space and more elaborate file and user management tools. More often than not, the basic account has been more than adequate for most of our clients.
Although, we generally don't use it as a tool to mass distribute files. We prefer certain documents only available through our or our clients websites as we can track viewing and access in a company branded interface.
Bottom line, we can't recommend it highly enough. It's an easy to use, efficient and cost effective alternative to email and FTP that seems to always work for our clients. Check it out today at http://www.dropbox.com