How many times does a meeting begin with everyone scrambling to get the same file on their computer? The first 5-10 minutes can easily be eaten away trying to transfer the right documents to all attendees. If people are in the same room there’s the usual ceremony of passing around flash drives. Sometimes Yahoo or Skype are employed to make the transfer. A variety of online solutions exist as well that allow you to upload a file to a central location and then send out a link where people can download it. The two I’ve worked with are Yousendit and LeapFile. The trouble with these solutions is that they send files through various servers leaving (literal) bits of it along the way. Files Over Miles is a new solution which offers to transfer files directly from one computer to another. As per it’s tagline, it sends it from browser to browser.
From a user standpoint I found Files Over Miles very easy to use. All you do is browse to the file and it returns a link. That link can be sent to others who can then download the file to their computer. As with many of these services, it’s encrypted before transfer. Of note and great admiration, they resisted the urge to make users register or leave personal information in order to use their service. Just navigate to the home page and you’re ready to go.
My first experience using FOM was a stark failure. I was behind a University firewall and it blocked the P2P connection. The FAQ points out that large organizations typically block P2P file transfer. A later trial at home worked as expected.
The feature I’d like to see is to share folders as well as single files. I find that often enough I need to transfer a series of files. If you can’t share a folder these either need to be zipped or sent one by one, which can be tedious.
One sticky spot is that FOM requires Flash 10. Based upon previous experience supporting a product that required Flash, I anticipate this being the biggest reason people have an issue. In fact, number one topic on FOM’s FAQ should say, upgrade Flash and clear the browser cache. (The other cure all is to check the firewall.) As it stands, Flash is very handy and commonplace, but I can feel another 10-15 minutes of meeting time slipping away resolving the upgrade issue. The current version of Flash also limits the maximum file size to the amount of available RAM on the computer. This probably wouldn’t be a huge limitation excepting massive files, such as a 2 hr video.
The most obvious limitation is that both computers must be on to transfer. Say you send a meeting invite with a FOM link for a file to be downloaded prior to the meeting. Then you pack up the laptop and go home. That won’t work out so well. This is a vote in the direction of using one of the other services since they store the file on a remote server.
All told, I enjoyed using FOM. What I like is the simplicity and ease of use. The name itself is as good as one can hope to find, though I have to admit it slightly annoys me. I can’t quite place what’s wrong with it but I can’t bring myself to type it too often either. Maybe it sounds too much like one of those make millions in a day schemes. Regardless, for me, simplicity will win out. This is probably the easiest way to shoot a file over to people in the shortest amount of time.