Compared to today, the internet of yesteryear was a very different experience. Back in the old days (read: 1995-ish and before), getting on the internet meant having your computer connect over the phone lines, dialing a number with its 28.8Kbps or 56Kbps modem. You’d wait patiently for the computer on the other end to answer, and then it would start warbling back and forth with your modem. Once online, most tasks were basic: email, simple web browsing, and, possibly, some small downloads. Even for tiny files like MP3s, downloads were painfully slow by today’s standards.
These days, files are often much larger than what we downloaded from FTP servers decades ago. Feature-length mezzanine HD video today is usually around 150GB +, with UHD and 4K video around 650GB+. Luckily, we have faster, more stable connections than dial-up, but some people still rely on those old FTP and HTTP protocols to transfer huge files. That’s like upgrading the engine in your old car, but not fixing holes rusting in the floor, or a broken windshield. Services using these protocols include Google Drive, DropBox, WeTransfer, etc. Don’t get us wrong, these services are great for many things, but large file transfer is not one of them.
What’s the worst that could happen?
As compared to smaller files (like images or text documents), larger files require more consideration. Put simply, large files, like video files for example, have more data and are more complex. That means there are many more possibilities for things to go wrong during a transfer:
- Corruption – Put simply, this happens when the data sent is not the same as the data received on the other end of a transfer. Corruptions can show up as digital hits in both audio and video. These hits might range from a quick tick in audio to picture break up. In a worst-case scenario, a file might be rendered totally unusable. Complicating things, corruptions are sometimes hidden, not presenting themselves until a post house or distributor begins working with the file (like during Blu-ray authoring or VOD transcoding).
- Dropped Connections – This is when a file transfer is interrupted and must be restarted. On slower connections, this could mean hours or days were wasted. Some FTP apps allow interrupted transfers to be resumed, but resuming a file transfer this way is not reliable and can often lead to corruption (see above).
- Speed – FTP and HTTP are relatively inefficient when it comes to utilizing today’s faster internet connections. This means slower transfers and longer wait times.
- Security – These older file transfer protocols were created before internet security was a major concern. As a result, sending any sort of sensitive data using standard FTP or HTTP can open you up to spying eyes and piracy. This is less of a concern these days with sFTP and HTTPS (more secure versions of the original protocols), but still a major consideration.
Your important large files call for specialized technology
So how should we be sending our important, large files? The answer is simple – File Acceleration Technology (sometimes called File Transfer Acceleration or Advanced Transport Technology). Companies and services providing this tech include IBM Aspera (ex: Faspex), Signiant (ex: Media Shuttle), and File Catalyst.
Let’s touch on how this technology deals with the pinch points I detailed above:
- Corruption – File acceleration services employ technology that prevents any type of corruption. With these services, the file sent is always identical to the file received, byte for byte.
- Dropped Connections – These services allow dropped transfers to restart after an interrupted transfer, from the point of failure, without losing data. Many of these services even offer automatic resumes, meaning you can start a transfer and walk away from your computer, confident the transfer will complete on its own.
- Speed – These services move data up to 100x faster than FTP or HTTP.
- Security – These services use cutting-edge technology to ensure the safety and security of your files as they travel across the internet. Their security measures are often reviewed and re-evaluated to make sure all possible modern-day threats are accounted for.
Long story short
FTP and HTTP (like DropBox and Google Drive) may be cheap or free, but large audio and video files should always be sent using File Acceleration technology, like Signiant Media Shuttle or Aspera Faspex. After all the time and money you spent on your film, the last thing you want is an issue with the last mile of its journey!