Large firms – particularly those involved in construction and design – must constantly send and receive a wide variety of documents such as blueprints. In the old days, when only physical documents were available, this had to be done with the use of couriers or delivery services. But in the digital age documents are created, sent and received electronically using online file transfer.
Delivery services such as the U.S. Postal Service are still used; however, when blueprints must be sent to distant locations overnight (as happens frequently), the cost can be prohibitive. Private delivery services such as UPS and FedEx also charge a premium for overnight service. In the corporate culture, there are often complex procedures for sending and receiving physical documents, which can further delay the time required to transfer large files physically.
This of course does not take into account the cost of printing blueprints, which often requires specialized printers and may even have to be outsourced to a professional printer at considerable cost.
With the advent of the Internet, it has become much easier and faster to transfer files online. Even this has limitations when one must transfer large files, however. With small text documents and simple graphic files such as jpegs, it’s a small matter to send these as attachments to an email. But this procedure becomes highly impractical when it comes to large, complex files such as digitized blueprints or CAD engineering files. Such documents can run into several hundred megabytes, far larger than the maximum attachment sized allowed by email programs.
In the past, this has required the use of file transfer protocol, better known as FTP file transfer. Most FTP programs are only moderately reliable, especially since there is typically no confirmation that a file has been sent or received, and this method of online file transfer can be cumbersome when dealing with a large volume of files.
Online FTP upload and download of large documents can take several minutes, or even an hour or more. Furthermore, the usual FTP methods require that one use specialized software, which must be downloaded and installed on one’s computer. There are several different kinds of online file transfer applications, few of which are particularly user-friendly – and fewer of which offer any real security.
Recently, a few companies have attempted to address this problem by offering online file transfer alternatives that are easier to use and offer tighter security. By doing a quick online search, the top firms that specialize in this type of service are easy to locate, and fees are nominal – especially when compared to the cost of printing and shipping physical documents.