Please don't send me large files via email

email If you’ve ever sent me a large file through email, you probably know how much I hate it. No one escapes a lecture! Just because GMail and other services give you gigabytes of storage, doesn’t mean that it’s okay to send really large attachments. I was happy to read that one my favorite blogs posted about the subject today. From the Microsoft Office Outlook Team Blog:

Putting any issues with your e-mail service provider’s limits on large messages aside, sending large attachments through e-mail is still a bad idea for a number of reasons.

In the post, Outlook Program Manager Ryan Gregg outlines a few of the reasons why you shouldn’t send large files via email – mail servers may reject large files, mailboxes may go over their quota, attachment bloat, attachments may be out of date, etc. He also outlines a number of alternatives, including SharePoint or a Shared File Server, Office Live, photo sharing sites like Flickr, and video sharing sites like YouTube.

When you use one of these alternative ways to share files with your friends, family, or colleagues you help them keep your mailbox and theirs clean, and you can be sure that your file will be available no matter what service or program your e-mail recipients are using.

I would add a couple more reasons to avoid sending large files: slow Internet connections and small devices. If I’m checking email on an unreliable connection, the last thing I want to do is wait for your images to download. If I’m checking email on my iPod touch or a cell phone, I might not be able to read the files anyway.

If you’re sending photos, why not stick them on Flickr and email a link? Same goes for video – use a site like YouTube. Some other alternatives include Box.net, Amazon S3, and SlideShare.

It doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to stick your file online somewhere first, so why not just do it? Send links to large files via email, not the files themselves!

7-Zip: My favorite file archive tool!

7-zip As a self-described geek, I often have friends and colleagues ask me for advice on what tools they should be using. For example, when someone sets up a new computer, they often need some sort of tool for working with zip files, because the tool built into Windows XP leaves much to be desired.

WinZip is probably the most popular file compression utility, and WinRAR is also really common. My favorite though, without a doubt, is an open-source tool called 7-Zip.

7-Zip does everything you’d expect it to and more! And it does it better than WinZip in most cases. Not only does 7-Zip allow you to work with it’s own compression format (7z) but also ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2, and TAR for both packing and unpacking, and RAR, CAB, ISO, and a whole bunch of others for unpacking only.

The install is really quick and painless (the setup file is a mere 840 KB). What you end up with is the 7-Zip File Manager, a command line interface, and most importantly – Windows Shell integration! I use 7-Zip exclusively through the Windows Shell. For instance, to add a file or files to a new archive, just right-click and go to the 7-Zip menu:

add

If you choose “Add to archive…” a little window pops up that lets you configure the type of archive, as well as compression settings. Usually though, it’s easier to just pick the “Add to filename.zip” option. It’ll create the zip file right in the same directory.

Unpacking archives is just as easy. Simply right-click on any archive file, and go to the 7-Zip menu:

extract

Again you have a bunch of options, with “Extract Here” and “Extract to folder” being the two most useful. As you can see, in most cases the only 7-Zip interface you see are these context menus.

That’s my favorite part about 7-Zip: it does one thing and it does it well. It’s fast, and mostly stays out of the way. If you are sick of WinZip or WinRAR, or if you *gasp* use the Windows XP zip functionality, I strongly urge to you download and install 7-Zip!

Here is the 7-Zip website, and you can get the latest download here. Developers – you may be interested in the LZMA SDK (so that you can take advantage of the 7z compression format in your own applications).