All of us are doing it. Some of us even do it daily! We still ask colleagues, friends, and customers to send us files in an email. But email attachments are a relic of the past, and we should all stop doing it … today!
Originally, email was intended as a new electronic system to exchange text messages, a replacement for snail mail. In the beginning, sending files was a hack only practiced by geeks. To send a file in an email, it was included in the text using an encoding.
It goes back to 1992 when email attachments were introduced in the MIME standard and the first actual email attachment — as we know it today — was sent. Since then nothing has changed much. We’re still stuck with a decades old technology which has its limitations.
So let’s look into the limitations and see how we can do better…
1. Size Limits
Most email providers allow a maximum of 5 or 10MB per email. Google’s Gmail went ahead and allows for up to 25MB per email. However, Google warns that emails to non-gmail addresses may never arrive or bounce.
“Why?” you may ask. Simply because SMTP, the protocol used to transfer email messages, and particularly the servers using the protocol just have not kept up with the pace. These servers need to store your attachments locally before they are forwarded to the next server. Along the transfer of an email, it may have passed many servers which all have to store your attachment temporarily.
“Servers are running fine. Promiz!”
Imagine the whole world’s email traffic. These servers restrict the size of an emails to make sure they do not get overwhelmed from all the data they need to receive, store, retrieve, and send out.
Due to the MIME-encoding of attachments in emails, typically a 33% overhead must be accounted for. Therefore, your 4MB attachment may just exceed your providers 5MB limit!
2. Inbox Quota
There is no free lunch! The same is true for email accounts. Every email provider enforces a quota of several MB or GB. Once you hit the capacity limit of your account, you won’t be able to receive any more emails. Regrettably, all emails from then on are lost!
“No more space!”
Should you plan to ask, for example, all your friends to send pictures from your last night out, ask guests from your weeding for their photos, or you plan to collect audio and video files as a host of a competition, you better leave it. The attachments in sum may exceed the inbox quota and the most recent emails are rejected.
You may, however, buy yourself out with a quota extension. Google, for example, offers additional storage space for your gmail account with yearly plans. But then again, remember the size limits.
3. “Save as …” Inconvenience
Imagine you just celebrated your wedding, birthday, or returned from the trip of you lifetime. You may ask your relatives and friends to send you pictures. The amount of email responses will soon stack up to 20, 50, or even 100.
Now you are confronted with a “Open and Save as …” torture. Open each and every email response, scroll to the attachments, and right-click to “Save as…” the files on your hard drive. That procedure repeats over and over may take you several days.
It can become even more frustrating, when your friends decide not to use attachments, e.g. when files are too large. Then, you have to follow the links in your email responses and got potentially through even more steps.
That whole process will make you go crazy!
Time for a change. There needs to be a simpler way to receive files from others.
4. Retrieval & History
Every email client offers a search feature. The best is imho google’s gmail search feature at mail.google.com. The desktop email clients such as Apple Mail and Outlook come in second, at best. Nonetheless, all of them are miserable for finding just the conversation and attachment you are looking for.
Often you only remember what the attachment was about. For instance, what was written in a document. Your email client, however, does typically not index the contents of the attachments due to the overhead and the need to understand a plethora of formats. Hence, the client won’t find the document you are looking for.
Once you saved the file to your hard drive, your operating system is much better at finding a document with “And the answer is 42.” (or other important stuff) in it.
You may instead remember who sent you the file. That makes finding an email much more likely. But still, the person may have sent you many emails in the past. There goes your lunch break while you are looking through email subjects and attachments.
5. SPAM Folder
Your inbox is pounded with so many emails every day. The senders mean it well and want to help you getting rich, hot wifes, or increased potency. Regardless of the intentions, we are happy to have NSFW and annoying emails put in a SPAM folder.
“Stop SPAM filter, stop!”
The problem is that filters applied to move annoying emails to the SPAM folder are producing false-positives. That is why websites, public services and online shops ask you to check your SPAM folder. Unfortunately, your friends, customers, and job interviewers don’t ask you to check the SPAM folder.
“Oh no! Where did that email go?”
Worst case scenarios:
- Public services send you an urgent document and the SPAM filter hides it from you.
- You just got the contract for the job offer of your life and you miss the email. Your SPAM filter just cost you a great job.
- The party of the year just happened without you. Well, the invitation still waits in your SPAM folder.
6. Virus Scanner
Email attachments are a source for viruses and US Homeland Security warns us. Who hasn’t heard those horrible hacker stories: “Employee opens email attachment and infects company servers”. Obviously, emails are not secure and attachments are a big factor.
Virus scanners aim at preventing you to open email attachments by scanning the files and warning you. Yet, the abundance of email clients for different operating systems makes catching up hard. Scanning emails and attachments imposes a hard task for virus scanners.
Unlike scanning emails, virus scanners and malware protection works great on a file and operating system basis. In the moment you place a new file, your virus protection will scan the file and quarantine it if necessary. Your computer nor you have a chance to open the file and infect the system or even a whole data center.
The open question is: “How to receive a file without an email?”
“Well, let me explain…”
Pro Tip Solution: CloudWok
Emails have been sticking with us quite reliably since the early 60s, and more prominently from the 70s/80s. Surely we owe you email, you delivered us so many good and bad news. But email attachments are broken and we need a better solution.
Today, many netizens and internauts embrace the cloud to store, backup, and sync files across devices. With leaders like Dropbox and Google Drive, storing and accessing files reliably has become simple. What was useful for early adopters has rapidly gained traction and is now proceeding towards a common utility.
Imagine you could use your reliable cloud service to exchange files instead of using email attachments. Files would be delivered right to your hard drive, available on all devices and backed up instantly. You virus scanner could easily detect defects and protect you. When you search for a file by example content (“And the answer is 42.”), your operating system can help you out. It will instantly show you the files with the content you are looking for.
Leaving email attachments behind leaves you with less problems and a clean solution! You benefit from:
- Happy virus scanner: files are directly on your hard drive or in the cloud.
- No missing out: files cannot end up in a SPAM folder.
- No endless searching: files & contents can be found instantly on your hard drive.
- No time wasting: there is no “Save as…” step! Files saved for you.
- No quota problems: cloud providers typically charge less and offer more quota.
- No rejected files: size limits are not present in the cloud.
To unlock the power of your cloud, just follow the instructions in the next section.
How To CloudWok: What you need to do
The tool you need to unlock your cloud as an inbox is CloudWok.com.
With CloudWok.com you can easily receive files with your cloud, and hence directly on your synced hard drive. Sharing and receiving files becomes simple, reliable, and more secure.
All you need to do is…
- Visit CloudWok.com and pick your cloud service (Dropbox, Google, Box.com, etc.).
- Grant CloudWok permission to forward files to your cloud.
- Pick a folder name and hit the “Create” button.
- Share the generated URL or email address with friends.
You have now two options to receive and collect files from peers:
- Upload page: share a link and others can drop files to you.
- Email address: share an email address and receive attachments in your cloud.
Whoever knows and visits the upload page can easily send files to your cloud and thereby to a folder on your hard drive. You can set a password as an additional protection and security layer. Besides, CloudWok.com allows you to customize the upload page and have it look just like you want it.
Sometimes it is easier for your peers to send you an email. If you still prefer to use emails, CloudWok also offers an upload email address – all attachments are extracted and placed in your cloud. There are no file size limitations nor inbox quota. Attachments are immediately placed in a folder on your hard drive and cloud.
So why wait? Start using your cloud as a more powerful inbox today!
Just visit CloudWok.com and follow the instructions.