It’s my penultimate sarcastic article for this term, where today I’m looking at something very familiar to a lot of us. It’s very pertinent
Sharing Large Files without Killing your Inbox
I get this a lot, I am forever having to wander over to the IT support guys, cap in hand, with a tear in my eye to beg for a bit more inbox space because someone’s emailed me a 1.2Gb video file and now I can’t actually send or receive any other email. Now with most emailing this isn’t usually a problem, if you’re sending messages across the interwebs then you tend to get an error and you rethink your strategy. but when an email goes across an internal system – like most of us have – then we can end up with us using email as a file storage area.
Sending any file larger than a few megabytes via email. If it’s getting above 4Mb do please have a think if there’s an easier way to do it. This could be a video, a zip archive of all the work for Y11 or just a REALLY huge PowerPoint file. Regardless, it fills my inbox with files that I sort of need but also are ridiculously huge.
I’ve just finished recording a lesson observation with my iPad, I’ve saved the file to my computer and I want to send it to one of my colleagues for a critique. Great! Very forward thinking! But there’s one problem, how do I get this file to them? I suppose I could stick it on a memory stick and walk down but come on! We live in the 21st Century so I’m going to send it through the internet.
So how best to do this? Well all other files I send by attaching them to an email. That’ll work right? Yeah, there we go, it took a while to attach it but now I click send and… boom! Done!
The biggy is that you email dissapears into the ether, it’s far too big. Your recipient never sees it and sometimes doesn’t know they should be expecting it so you might as well not have bothered.
Or, you could be more unfortunate and you end up clogging up some poor person’s mailbox with your huge file sizes. This means that person’s having to scour their emails for the ones with the biggest attachments that they can delete lust so they can send and receive messages again.
These files take ages to upload and download again, fill up massses of bandwidth that we could be using for other things and sit, unloved, taking up space in our email for an age.
If you ever need to move email providers then copying over these huge files will be a massive problem! They may not even transfer over. (Guess what we’re doing on Friday?)
There’s also another issue in that people start relying on their email client as a place to store their large files. People often moan that they’ve run out of space on their email server but have several emails of a huge size that they ‘need to keep’. If it’s that important to you make sure you download the file and save it somewhere!
Okay a few choices here. First always check the size of the file you’re trying to attache before you click send, you can do this very easily in Windows. Right click on the file and go to properties, if the files is bigger than 3Mb then consider using one of the other methods.
If it’s a file you need to send then consider using one of the websites that deals with sending big files between people, a site such as www.wetransfer.com will let you upload your large file and get a link to it sent to the intended recipient. This is great because I still get it in email, but the file is just presented as a link. Fantastic!
There is a problem there too though, because as great as that is we can’t guarantee that emailing sensitive information is being done within our data protection regulations. One thing to look at would be in using your school’s Google drive account; you just log in with your school email and password and can upload and share a file. Even better here because we’re using our school’s own system so we should be on safer ground with transmitting sensitive data.
Have a good think about the format though, in our example the video would be sent just to be watched. We don’t particularly need the person to keep the video so where do we normally go to watch videos reliably online? YouTube is your answer here; you can upload and secure a youtube video in the same way you can a Google drive document, if you’re using your Google apps for schools login then this is even better as you can share it with people just on your domain. It won’t show up in searches, no one will accidentally stumble across it but you can share the file in an efficient and easy manner with your colleague.
Above is a real example of our department’s secure storage of recorded observations, shared only with the oberver and observee so they can be referred to if needed.
If you’re using your inbox as a storage area for coursework submission, important files or the like then make sure you move those things out of your inbox and onto your local folder as soon as you can! If you need to have a certain set of files available to you at all times you may need to look at a solution like Dropbox or OneDrive (i.e. SkyDrive) or even using the Google Drive sync application with your Google apps for schools log in. Just remember that if you are keeping files in the cloud that you should be careful about sensitive files and data going outside of your School’s data protection policies. Using their provided tech, like Skydrive or Google drive usually makes this a bit safer.
One of the worst things you can do is email huge files to people. It’s pretty much the same as, for a laugh, ordering a shed to be delivered to someone who lives in a flat because they once expressed an interest in gardens. It’s not neccesarily a bad thing to do. but it reeks of bad taste.
So please stop and think, if your attachement is taking a long time to attach then is it too big? Is there a better way to send your file?
There probably is. If not then you’re getting IT wrong, and you probably need my book…