How to Transfer Large Files Faster

On the surface, “file transfer” sounds pretty simple. Maybe you transfer files as email attachments or make them available to others in your organization via a data synchronization application like DropBox or Google Drive.

But what about the really big files you might have to transfer? What if you have to send a large media file? Or what if your business model depends on transferring multi-gigabit data sets from one server to another?

What if you need those transfers to happen fast?

Transferring large files could take all afternoon (or longer) using a conventional solution. To speed along the process, you should choose a file transfer method that “fits” the kind of file you’re transferring. Here’s a quick primer on how to transfer large files faster by choosing the right solution for your specific files.

1. Evaluate file transfer methods.
What’s the best way to move a large file from Location A to Location B? There are the obvious methods – email attachments or data synchronization apps – and there are more business-friendly options like FTP or managed file transfer solutions.

Email and cloud services, while unarguably pervasive, have advantages and disadvantages:

• Email is universal and easy to use, but transfer speeds may depend on factors outside of individual users’ control. What’s more, even when your email client is capable of handling a large attachment, you may not know whether your recipient’s client can handle the same file until it’s too late.
• Data synchronization apps are available at little or no cost, but they often lack the security features necessary for transferring business data. While they may seem relatively fast, what you gain in transfer speed could come at a loss in overall data security.

Due to the security-related drawbacks of email and data synchronization services, many organizations have turned to FTP as an alternative file transfer solution. But in addition to being just marginally more secure than email and data sync, FTP’s inability to maximize available bandwidth can still mean interminably slow transfer speeds for the largest files.

When your file transfers need to take full advantage of network bandwidth, a managed file transfer (MFT) is often the best solution. MFTs offer faster delivery times and can provide a competitive advantage in a world where multi-gigabit file transfers usually imply a slow, cumbersome process.

2. Compress or otherwise “shrink” your file.
As soon as you determine which file transfer method meets your needs, it’s important to make your file as small as possible before performing the transfer. Yes, it’s often possible to reduce the size of your file without losing data – even for the largest files.

One common way to “shrink” your file is to compress it, usually with a third party application or by using the compression functionality inherent to your operating system. A compressed file will create an archive, frequently with the .zip extension, and occupy less hard drive space than the original file.

If you are sending several files, you can compress them all into a single .zip file for faster, easier transfers. And if you’re transferring a file at the folder level (i.e. there are multiple files within the folder), you may be able to increase transfer speeds just by removing extraneous folder items that your recipient doesn’t need.

File size reduction can boost transfer speeds whether you’re using email, data sync, FTP – it almost always helps! Modern MFT solutions will compress files automatically, so you don’t have perform the .zip conversion yourself or bother with third party applications.

3. Transfer the file using your chosen solution.
Figured out which file transfer solution meets your needs? Reduced your file size as much as possible? Then you’re ready to perform the transfer.

Ultimately, choosing the most appropriate file transfer method is often the most effective way to maximize speed as well. And if you can find a way to reduce your file size before performing the transfer, even better. All else being equal, a not-quite-so-large file will always transfer more quickly than a really large one.

Speed, of course, is just one factor you should consider upon evaluating file transfer solutions. But when moving data from one place to another is key to staying competitive, it could be the factor that matters most.

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