Web storage can surmount e-mail limits


April 09, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I have large files (2 to 6 megabytes) that I want to e-mail as attachments, but most e-mail sites seem to have a limit of about 1 to 1.5 MB. Is there anything I can do? Even if I Zip files, they are not small enough.

I have heard of a Web site that uploads and downloads files to specific directories on your appointed hard drive and allows you 50 MB of memory for free. This would get around the e-mail limitations. Any ideas?

I have covered in recent columns the exact ground you need explained, but even more coverage is in order since this whole business of sharing huge files has exploded.

This is because of the arrival of multimegabyte MP3 music files, and the rush by families to get digital cameras that routinely save photos in mammoth TIFF formats that can reach 4 MB.

Whether it's a 3-minute song ripped from a Nanci Griffith album and sent to a relative or an 11-by-14 color photo of the family picnic, either file will push the 3 MB range, and even with Zip compression they will not get much thinner.

The hands-down best way to share such files is, just as you ask, to find a free Web file storage service and use a Web browser to upload your files to the site host's server computers. Friends and family can go to that Web site and download stuff free of the e-mail filtering policies that are required to prevent e-mail traffic from going into gridlock.

I usually mention www.mydocsonline.com as the easiest site for consumers to use, although it is possible to store files in many other places, including www.yahoo.com, www.freedrive.com and even America Online. AOL users can upload stuff for sharing with friends and associates by using the keyword "My FTP Space."

Finally, you should know how to split those big files into smaller sizes that can evade the e-mail size police at your Internet service provider, because Internet service providers commonly refuse to send or accept attachments above the size of a single floppy disk or 1.4 megabytes. The solution is to use a file-splitting program like Splitz to cut big files into a series of smaller ones so that each can slip under the size filter. Splitz can be downloaded at www.zdnet.com/downloads/powertools.

Not to flog a dead horse, but PKZIP has an option that allows a compressed file to span multiple floppies. When the floppy set is unzipped, the program prompts for the last disk in the set and then prompts for disks 1 to n.

It is me, not thee, flogging expired equines today. Your point about the disk-spanning feature of PKZIP is most relevant to this ever-growing problem about how to deal with the huge files that are the curse as well as the blessing of multimedia computing.

Your letter says it all. The disk-spanning feature of the widely used PKZIP file compression software can chop up huge compressed files and automatically move them back and forth between the hard drive and a stack of floppies.

In my opinion, however, it is far easier to just use Splitz rather than to mess around with all the compressing and uncompressing required by the PKZIP spanning feature. Details are at www.pkware.com.

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