When it comes to file transfer systems, most people figure that e-mail is good enough. And why not? E-mail is quick, everybody already has it, and in many cases, attaching a file is a simple process with few steps that sends a file at incredible speeds until it reaches its target. Just send it and forget it, as the infomercials like to say. But for larger files, and for larger groups of files, having a file transfer system in place can be a much better alternative, and the kind of thing that can prove very valuable.
E-mail is the weapon of choice for many firms when it comes to sending files. In 2008, an Osterman Research survey found that a third of e-mails contain attachments, and those attachments comprise 95 percent of the information going through a company's e-mail systems. While it's very simple to use e-mail as a file transfer system--much in the same way it's simple to use a flathead screwdriver to open a gallon of paint--it was never intended to be used in such a fashion.
Using e-mail systems for file transfers, while easy, have several unintended consequences that can do some serious damage to a company's overall operations. Perhaps the biggest problem is that it can bog down an e-mail server, which in turn leads to slower mail delivery, higher storage costs, more time spent backing up systems and even a possibility of losing some mail entirely. Then there are issues of encryption and security; e-mail commonly doesn't have the best as far as these two points go, which means files are suddenly protected at e-mail level, which isn't the kind of security many would want in place.
This is why you need an intelligent file transfer solution. Not only are the issues of using e-mail addressed in a file transfer system--security improves greatly and the burden is taken off a more easily overloaded e-mail server--but it also allows for completely new options like message retraction and an audit trail that offers greater accountability in terms of both sending and receiving messages.
File transfer systems can readily incorporate into user directories as well, and don't place limitations on file sizes to be transferred, which can be the case with e-mail. There is also a level of flexibility involved in the deployment of file transfer systems, allowing the process to be rolled out at different levels to keep costs more effectively managed.
It's really, more than anything, a matter of the right tool for the right job. Yes, that screwdriver can open paint lids or break a coconut or even be used as a particularly long chisel in a pinch, but using it in a way besides its intended use--loosening and tightening screws--makes it less effective at its primary use in the long term. So too the differences between file transfer and e-mail systems; yes, a file can be sent by e-mail, but sending too many for too long can break the system. That's why it's important for businesses--especially those that depend on their e-mail systems--to use the right tool for the right job, a file transfer system.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman