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YouSendIt is the only way to transfer files across the Internet -- review, and mammoth give-away

In today's day and age, transferring files is a pain in the ass. Sure, there's email or instant messenger if you want to transfer a single file from A to B -- but what if there's an attachment size limit on your email, or a firewall preventing you from sending files? What if you want to transfer whole directories? It's certainly possible but it's painful.

Then there's FTP, an ancient technology that can be secure and usually supports the resuming of transfers. But it still has some big issues -- can you imagine walking your grandmother through an FTP transfer? FTP dumps are rarely monitored or policed either. If multiple clients upload to the same FTP server, it's not uncommon for them to be able to access each other's files -- and those uploaded files are rarely cleaned up, sometimes lingering for years.

The thing is, while they're both 30 to 40 years old, email and FTP do work. But wouldn't it be great if there was a better solution? I've often wondered the same thing -- and now I can tell you there is.

Enter Web-based file transfer and sharing tools. RapidShare is one example, WeTransfer is another -- but leading the pack with ten times the features, better support and a plethora of awesome shiny bits is YouSendIt.

There's a full review after the break, and we're giving away 50 six-month Business Plus accounts (valued at $179.88). Even the most hardened email and FTP users are going to want a YouSendIt account after you read my review, trust me!
In its most basic, functional form, YouSendIt provides an email-like Web interface. You provide a recipient (or recipients), type a subject, attach a file (or a few)... and send!

Sure enough, if you click 'Send It', an email swiftly arrives in the inbox of the recipient(s) with a link to the attached file(s). That's all there is to it.

But the devil is in the details, or the check boxes in this case. Let's take a look at them individually:
  • File Expiration Options -- this is a key feature for business and enterprise users, or for anyone that's worried about the associated risks of transferring things digitally. You can see that I've limited the file to just one download too -- just like the tapes in Mission Impossible...
  • Password-Protected Secure Delivery -- this one speaks for itself. Even if an email inbox is compromised, the file transfer is still protected by a pre-arranged password (Incidentally, the file itself isn't passworded -- this isn't like a ZIP or RAR password.)
  • Certified Delivery with Tracking -- this is another layer of security and policing. There's a 'Tracking' tab that shows you all of the files you've ever sent with YouSendIt -- you can see how many times each file has been downloaded and when it's due to expire.
  • Return Receipt -- yes, you can create your own police state! This option makes it impossible for the recipient to download the file without generating an email receipt.
Pretty damn cool -- and that's just scratching the surface! To speed up the process, there's a desktop client for both Windows and Mac. There are also a ton of plug-ins for industry-standard applications like Final Cut Pro, Photoshop and CorelDRAW -- check out the complete list of tools and plug-ins.

Next, and perhaps most importantly for business and power-users, YouSendIt integrates fully with Outlook and Microsoft Office. It's configurable too: you can set it up so that small files are sent via email, while large files are automatically transmitted to YouSendIt -- as a result you can minimise bandwidth use and do away with bounced emails!

It's worth noting is that the offline clients and plug-ins support resumable upload -- if you've ever had an Internet 'blip' while uploading an email attachment, you'll know how annoying that can be! The offline tools also support sending of directories and folders, so there's no need to ZIP them -- and, of course, like the Web interface, you can set an expiry date, password and so on.

Now, because we're giving away Business Plus accounts, I should say a little about the 'enterprise' features of YouSendIt. Basically, you have full control over how your employees use the service. You can force every file that's sent to expire after one week, or ensure that every file requires a password before it's downloaded. There are also group policies for larger businesses -- you might want different default settings for power users, tech support staff, grunts, and so on.

For businesses that have a large stream of digital assets -- and let's face it, who doesn't nowadays? -- you also have access to a neat tool called SiteDrop. Rather than forcing clients to send you a physical disc, or upload via FTP, you can embed a YouSendIt SiteDrop on your website -- though, admittedly, I don't think such transfers are resumable (so maybe FTP still has SOME advantages!) The SiteDrop, and all other business-oriented features, can be branded with your own corporate artwork too.

Last but not least, YouSendIt is currently beta testing a service that I can only liken to Dropbox. Basically, you can dump files into your YouSendIt account from anywhere by simply visiting a URL. Unlike Dropbox those files can't be made public though -- so it's very much a convenience thing rather than a real feature.

Looking to the future, YouSendIt says it's working on local, LAN-attached solution for businesses. A lot of email is sent inside the local network, so sending files into the cloud is both slow and a big waste of bandwidth. They are also in talks with DRM specialists so that they can further secure the transfer and viewing of YouSendIt transmissions.

They strike me as a company that's comfortably on top of its game, and the fact that they have millions of paying customers really doesn't come as a surprise.

And now the give-away! Get your hands on 1 of 50 six-month Business Plus accounts valued at $179.88. Simply leave a comment to enter. Full rules and conditions follow:
  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, leave a comment below.
  • The comment must be left by Sunday, May 30 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Prize: YouSendIt Business Plus six-month subscription, retail value of $179.88 (includes two user accounts)
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.
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Tags: business, corporate, email, file sharing, file transfer, FileSharing, FileTransfer, ftp, policy, secure, send files, SendFiles, yousendit