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The Pitfalls of Online File Sharing and Sending Services for the Media & Entertainment Industry

Why IT finds them challenging and why you may be putting your business at risk by using them

Easy-to-use, readily-accessible, and consumer-oriented, online file sharing platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive are, to end users, a pleasant replacement to older file transfer methods such as FTP. FTP is complex to use and requires IT intervention to make almost any change. The pain associated with FTP, which was developed in the 1970s, is one of the factors that opened the door for the rise of online file sharing services in the workplace.

Along with file sharing, for the sending large files, a series of consumer-focused tools have emerged such as WeTransfer to navigate around the size limitations of most email systems. Given the consumer-adoption of such tools, it’s no wonder so many business users are willing to circumvent internal IT systems and use file sending services when they need to send a large file to co-workers, partners or customers.

These trends, of course, make IT managers nervous (especially every time major online file sharing data breaches get publicized). Because now that users are self-migrating from FTP or internal email systems to unsanctioned, public platforms, leaving IT out of the loop – they open their companies to risks and challenges that companies can’t afford to take.

In some cases, EFSS (Enterprise File Sync and Share) systems including Box and Dropbox for Business are options for IT organizations to consider. These typically take a consumer-like offering and add additional management controls and, in some cases, more sophisticated security. EFSS solutions are widely deployed, and they are often considered a good choice for business documents. However, when it comes to sending and sharing mission-critical content or massive video files, such EFSS systems aren’t the best solution either.

“We were using a range of other products like WeTransfer, Dropbox and Box. We had so many different ones that were either client specified or just set up for specific reasons that it was very difficult to manage or help people if they had an issue.” – Michael Ball, Post-Production Supervisor, Accord Productions

Online file sharing and sending (OFSS) services are great for consumers and even for some simple business use cases – there’s no denying that. But when it comes to mission-critical content and the complex workflows of modern M&E companies, these services just aren’t up to the challenge.

 

Seven pitfalls of OFSS services for M&E companies

1. No Acceleration

For all the promises of ease, access and user-friendliness of OFSS services, they fail to address the biggest bottleneck of all in moving large video files to other users: the transfer speed.

While employees might think they’re circumventing the annoying FTP process, they’re still left waiting for transfers to complete. Why? Because OFSS services still rely on traditional TCP transfers that don’t maximize network bandwidth. They are just as slow as FTP, but with a friendlier face.

2. Flawed Security Models

Even if a company advertises that files are encrypted in storage, you have no assurance whether your OFSS provider is following secure design principles. And, let’s say you get the information and your OFSS service is following secure design principles, is your company’s intellectual property and PII (Personally Identifiable Information) data now sitting in someone else’s storage?

Just by using an OFSS service, you could be violating your company’s security policies with respect to PII. Freemium versions of the majority of these products seldom support critical security controls.

3. Storage Lock-in

You can’t choose where you want your assets stored. OFSS services use their own storage – and that could be anywhere. This means your IT department has no control over the actual server where assets are stored.

4. Closed Storage System

Additionally, because you have no control of where the content is stored, you cannot access this storage via other mechanisms. It may be impossible for you to directly interact with your stored files or move your files through an automated workflow that is outside or adjacent to your OFSS storage.

5. File Size Limits

As of July 2017, Dropbox has a file size limit of 20GB per file. That may seem like a lot but with today’s 4K cameras, you could exceed that limit quickly depending on FPS (frames per second), bitrate and codec.

6. Poor Control and Visibility

Without direct ownership of or access to the storage and server management, using an OFSS service introduces a dangerous barrier to corporate visibility. Being able to restrict access and assign granular permissions to files ensures that only the right people have access to the content. And, being able to view, track and audit activities means that if a breach occurs you can pinpoint its source.

7. No Robust Transfer Mechanisms

Even if you decide that OFS meets all your needs, you can’t afford to waste time starting at the beginning. With large files, a Checkpoint Restart function becomes very important. If a file transfer is interrupted due to internet connectivity or other network challenges, having to manually restart or worse having to start the transfer over from the beginning can be a nightmare in meeting deadlines – especially when there’s no file acceleration.

A solution

The answer is to make the move to a next-generation file transfer solution like Signiant Media Shuttle. Media Shuttle is an easy and highly reliable way to transfer large files fast. More than 25,000 companies of all sizes use the solution and enjoy the enterprise security features and flexibility and control of choosing their own storage.

 

About Signiant

Signiant Media Shuttle is the fastest, easiest, and most reliable way for users to send and share large files. Used by hundreds of thousands of media professionals around the world, this cloud-native SaaS solution employs Signiant’s patented acceleration technology to dramatically speed up transfers over public and private IP networks. Authorized users can log in to Media Shuttle’s branded portals from any Web browser, gaining secure access to content via a super-simple user interface. Behind the scenes, the system can be configured to work with either local storage or cloud storage. Sold by subscription to businesses large and small, Media Shuttle is the de facto standard for person-initiated transfer of large files. For more information, please visit www.signiant.com/media-shuttle.


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J Christy
J Christy

Correction: Dropbox file size limit is 50GB, unless you’re using their API, then it’s 350GB per file.
https://www.dropbox.com/help/space/upload-limitations
Also, Dropbox doesn’t restart large file uploads or downloads if interrupted, it picks up where it left off. Reliably. Same with Box.
It is true than none of the cloud drives seem to use TCP or any other acceleration, unlike video-specific companies like Frame.io and the one mentioned above.