Transfer Methods for Photography.
how best to get that file from point A to point B
There are a number of ways of getting your digital images to clients
or end users, and each have an upside as well as a downside.
shouldn't be the first choice
The one method people think of using most often--E-mail-- is probably
not the best method. If you are only including thumbnails or small
samples you'll probably be OK. However, I've had enough problems
delivering larger files that I only do this if the client specifically
requests it, and confirms with their IT (Information Technology)
folks or ISP (Internet Service Provider) that they can receive large
files and note the upper limit on file size. If they are on AOL
I refuse unless the files are under 800-900K. Many mail servers
at Internet Service Providers are set to reject larger attachments
as they slow down service for others, and could contain a computer
with e-mail attachments
The major problem with e-mail is that because most of the problems
occur once the files have left your hands, you often don't know
if the file got there or not. If the client's ISP blocks files over
a specific size your message with attached file may get killed.
You don't receive an error message or any indication that there
has been a problem, and the client never gets the image.
e-mail from multiple locations...a double whammy
In addition, if the receiver checks this same account from multiple
locations (like office and home), they may be a bit upset to receive
a 10mb attachment at both locations. If they happen to be traveling
and check their e-mail with their laptop on the road (like when
they are connected over a low bandwidth modem in their hotel room!)
they may be in for a shock. If they can't see all the headers before
reading the message (as they could with a webmail account), they
may have to wait for quite a while your attachment downloads. My
conclusion was it's best not to send unsolicited attachments to
an e-mail address.
If a client insists on a delivery via e-mail I first send a "pre-message"
before sending the file attachment. It's just a simple message that
says, "the file(s) you requested should follow in a second, separate
e-mail attachment. If you should only receive this message (and
not the second one with the attachment) contact me for alternate
delivery arrangements." If I expect to be out of the office during
this time, I may also post the file to a hidden or protected directory
on my website and include the URL for the file in the first message.
If the second message with attachment never arrives, they can go
to the site and download the file using a standard web browser.
By "protected" I mean providing security by establishing
a username and password for the hidden directory. If you don't have
this ability, be sure to ask the client to notify you when they
have successfully downloaded the file, that way you can delete the
files from the website.
compression to speed up transmission times
If you are sending several files, or concerned that the file header
might get stripped from the file or corrupted, you may want to use
a program such as Aladdin's "Stuffit" or the PC file compression
utility PKZIP to create a "wrapper"
for the package. Stuffit is cross platform, while ZIP is primarily
for windows computers (though newer versions of stuffit can open
these files). To avoid difficulties, it helps to know what computer
platform your recipient is using before sending the file. There
are ways to compress your files with these utilities that are "self-extracting"
but this feature creates a slightly larger file. If you know that
the client already has one or the other of these utilities, you
can simply used the standard compression format. If they are a client
that you will be exchanging files with on a regular basis you might
also wish to include in you delivery notice where they can download
the freeware utility to open the files, as this will keep the download
times to a minimum.
using your website instead
Making the file available via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or on
your website allows the client to download the files at their convenience,
when they choose to do so. Downloading the file via FTP is a more
secure and stable way to transfer files. However many clients may
think that this is a difficult procedure, or may be unfamiliar with
using FTP software. If so putting the file on your website in a
hidden directory, or in a password protected directory will provide
similar security, but the HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) transfer
may not be as stable. In either event you will only want to leave
the high resolution file on your webserver till the client has completed
the download. Even if you aren't limited by server space, you should
remove the files from the server directory for security purposes
if the directory is not password protected.
David Riecks, please do not distribute without permission from the
back to "digitalinfo"
This page last updated: 7-27-2003