Secure, Easy Managed File Transfer (Maybe)

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2010-03-26

Secure, Easy Managed File Transfer (Maybe)

The idea behind YouSendIt's namesake technology is to make the chore of sending files, especially large or sensitive files, easier and safer than it would be just attaching the files to an e-mail. There are a lot of reasons for doing this, the most obvious is that many e-mail servers have limits on how large a file can be attached to an e-mail, so if what you're sending is too big, you're out of luck.

A less obvious reason is that e-mail attachments aren't really very secure. Anyone with access to the e-mail server can open your attachment and examine it. This might be OK if the attachment is a photo of your Great Dane, Twinkie. But it's less OK if the attachment is a patient medical record or credit card information.

For images of YouSendIt in action, click here.

The reason YouSendIt exists is to provide a way to get large, numerous or sensitive files from one place to another securely and easily. It's designed to avoid both the pain of using an FTP client and server for large files and the security issues of all file transfers by managing the process in a way that's intuitive, encrypted and reasonably fast.

And YouSendIt proved to be a great solution for companies that need to send files securely, especially large files. But if you are running Windows 7, especially the 64-bit version, beware: You'll probably have to be satisfied with the Web interface. The available applications and plug-ins won't necessarily work for you in Windows 7, especially in the 64-bit version, although a company representative did say that an update is in the works.

I tested the corporate version of YouSendIt (there are also versions for small and midsize businesses, and for individuals, including a "Lite" version that's free). The corporate version, designed for enterprise use, allows you to give employees in your organization access to the file transfer capabilities of YouSendIt. You can also appoint other administrators and track the usage levels of individual users or groups of users. With YouSendIt, you can create groups of users in whatever manner you wish, such as by job function, location or some other criterion. (Each group will need a group e-mail address.)

The corporate version also includes a drop box feature that lets those outside your organization send material to you in the same way you'd send material, but without having access to your YouSendIt account.

Pricing for the corporate suite for five users is $16.99 per month per user or $999.99 per year; for 10 users, $12.50 per month per user or $1,499.99 per year; for 15 users, $11.00 per month per user or $1,999.99 per year; for 20 users, $10.00 per month per user or $2,499.99 per year; and for 25 users, $9.99 per month per user or $2,999.99 per year. Larger licenses are negotiated individually.

In its most basic mode, YouSendIt is a Website that includes a form on which you can add the e-mail addresses of your intended recipients, a subject line and any comments, in addition to an upload function that lets you choose the files on your computer (or an attached server) to be sent. It also gives you the option of receiving a return receipt, and using a password and automatic tracking. A simple click on "Send" and the file is on its way. Your recipients will get a link to the file, which they can download to their computer. If you chose to be notified of delivery, you'll receive an e-mail message confirming the files you sent made it to their destination.

Because of its store-and-forward nature, the YouSendIt process adds to your convenience by not requiring that recipients be around to receive the file. They can go to the site within the time limit you set and get the file at their convenience.

YouSendIt Express


If YouSendIt ended there, it would be a nice, but unremarkable means of managing file transfer. But there's more. A series of applications are available for download that enable you to install YouSendIt Express. The Express version resides on your computer and, in addition to having the same functions (with nearly the same interface) as the Website, it allows you to attach entire folders. Plus, there are plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop and for Microsoft Office and Outlook, as well as other ones that I didn't test.

Depending on the plug-in, these features are more or less useful. With the Outlook 2007 plug-in, for example, you're asked every time you send an e-mail with attachments if you want to use YouSendIt for those attachments. With Microsoft Word 2007, YouSendIt shows up in the "Send" menu choice.

It's not entirely clear how it works in Photoshop, although I did find that in the case of the 64-bit version, it doesn't work at all. The instructions say that it converts some file types before sending. This means that if you're taking photos using one of the RAW digital camera files used by the pros, you'll find yourself having to choose between formats such as TIFF and JPEG. I tried sending the Nikon form of that file type, called an NEF file, and YouSendIt insisted on the conversion. Since this file type is used because it's not modified or compressed, this means of file transmission may not be suitable for such an application. However, repeated attempts to install the Photoshop plug-in into the 64-bit version of Photoshop were unsuccessful, so that limitation wasn't a problem.

YouSendIt Express also occasionally failed to send files with the 64-bit version of Windows 7. When this happened, shutting the application down and restarting it sometimes solved the problem. I did not notice these problems with the 32-bit version of Windows 7.

On its Website, the company is silent on its support for Windows 7, although discussions with a company representative revealed that YouSendIt is still working on full support. Unfortunately, that is not the only thing the company is silent about. For example, if you want YouSendIt to perform document tracking, your recipient will need to have a YouSendIt account. This information, however, is buried deep within the tech support information. Unless you research these issues, you're going to be disappointed.

Overall, YouSendIt works well in its most basic form. However, be aware that to use some of its more specialized features, you either need to be running an older version of Windows or be willing to wait until the company updates its software to be compatible with current versions.

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