Big Files Don't Cry

Oct. 1, 2008
As I prepare columns and lectures, I often need to get files and images that are quite large in size.

by Paul Feuerstein, DMD

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: PowerPoint, FTP, file transfer protocol, system restore, Dr. Paul Feuerstein, installation.

As I prepare columns and lectures, I often need to get files and images that are quite large in size. Many times there are mountains of PDFs and PowerPoint images. Sending these large files via e-mail can present a few problems.

Several e-mail services bounce attachments that are larger than 8 MB. So, if I transmit something like this, I often get complaints that the recipient's e-mail bounced a large file.

There is something called FTP (File Transfer Protocol) that some companies and individuals have set up for this circumstance. To some noncomputer geeks, the thought of using this causes shudders since they have to go to a Web site, enter some codes — and in some situations — use a special program to download these files. But help is on the Internet, and in a number of cases, it is free.

A Google search for "e-mail large files" produces a remarkable list. I have used YouSendIt.com, SendLargeFiles.org and CuteSendIt.com. The list goes on. Most of these require you to sign up for a free account. You just log on, enter the e-mail address of the person whom you wish to receive the file, and then browse for it on your computer.

Hit "Send" and the recipient will get an e-mail with a link. The recipient just needs to click on the link, and the file will be downloaded. With the free accounts, there are limits to how long the file will be available, and how many times per month you can use it. For casual use, I recommend that you use the free ones and save some money.

Another interesting program can be found at Diino.com. This program allows you to easily "drag and drop" files from a computer to the company's site. Files are stored in various categories. If you want to share them with others, just "right click" and input the e-mail address or the intended recipient. This sends an e-mail with a link that the other person can use to access these files.

The trial account is free and has limited storage size. But paid accounts are still priced reasonably. There is also an option for an automatic backup of files. For those looking for an offsite Internet backup, this may be a solution.

Computer potpourri

More than a year ago, I reviewed a couple of products — gotomypc.com and logmein.com — that allow you to access a computer from just about anywhere. These programs enable you to work on a computer that has Internet access by putting the monitor view on your screen and then working on it with a keyboard and mouse as if you were there.

I find these products useful and have added another one to my arsenal, imintouch.com. This setup has an additional feature that allows you to turn on a computer remotely, although it does have some limitations. Still, I think it is a formidable competitor. Each has a 30-day free trial, and logmein has free "lite" versions, too.

Some new programs install applications that will run continuously. You will find small icons in the lower right corner of the screen that tend to build up after a while. These are programs that start when you launch Windows and then stay in your computer's memory. This slows down startup. If many of these programs are running, they can hog memory and slow other applications. Most allow you to manually close them, but if you are not using these programs continuously, why have them running at all?

During installation, many programs ask, "Do you want this to start with Windows?" For most, just say no and allow the program to leave an icon on the desktop or programs file. Occasionally, I have installed a new program that someone recommended, and find that I never use it or that it didn't work as planned. Uninstalling can be quite a chore. One program looked great but turned into a nuisance. I did everything I knew, and still could not delete it. Finally, I found help on the Internet from other frustrated users and followed directions to change the registry. Those of you who have been in this situation know that this is a nerve- wracking task. But it is a mysterious part of Windows. One error can reduce your computer to a useless ornament.

One possible preemptive attack is the use of "system restore." Windows allows you to lock in a spot in time in which the computer works fine before you make a change. Go to Start/Programs/Accessories/SystemTools/SystemRestore. In the menus provided, choose "create a restore point." Then choose a name like "before installation of new program." Windows will take a snapshot of the operating system, date, and time. After you install the program, if there is a disaster, you can go back to the previous time in space.

Dr. Paul Feuerstein installed one of dentistry's first computers in 1978. For more than 20 years, he has taught technology courses. A mainstay at technology sessions, Dr. Feuerstein is an ADA seminar series speaker. A general practitioner in North Billerica, Mass., since 1973, Dr. Feuerstein maintains a Web site (www.computersindentistry.com) and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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