In my last post, There Has Got to be a Better Way to Share Big Files, I asked for ideas to help me improve my workflow for transferring big files across the internet. A ton of good suggestions were posted in the comments section, and I’ve tried out many of them today. Here’s how my favorites shook out.
I used a 12.5 MB zipped file as my test subject and moved it around using four of the methods suggested in the comments discussion: regular iDisk from my .Mac account via the Finder, iDisk using the Transmit FTP client, a free DropSend account, and a free YouSendIt account. I tested these methods using my sluggish home DSL connection and the super fast O’Reilly T3 connection. The results were interesting.
Of the four methods via DSL, I had the fastest upload using YouSendIt — about 6 minutes. Upload to my iDisk via the Finder was next at about 7 minutes, followed by Transmit to iDisk at 8 minutes, and DropSend at 9 minutes.
I really liked the user interfaces for DropSend and Transmit. Not only were they attractive, but they displayed lots of information such as time remaining, percent complete, upload speed, and file size. Part of my problem in the past using the Finder to upload to my iDisk was the lack of information during the upload. As a result, I had given it a bad performance rap when indeed that method was just as good as the others, sometimes better. Some readers suggested this in their comments, and they were dead-on right.
Many readers cited that bandwidth had everything to do with upload/download times, and for the most part, they were right. I had to use a stopwatch for these tests.
For uploading, Transmit to my iDisk and Finder to the iDisk reigned supreme — 18 seconds for that very same 12.5 MB file. But YouSendIt lagged behind at 1:10, and DropSend fell off the map at 9 minutes, the same time it took on my DSL test. It was only averaging 22.5 KB per second despite having a 45 megabit bandwidth pipe. I tested this again to make sure, and the results were the same. So better bandwidth certainly helped with iDisk transfer, and improved YouSendIt, but not DropSend.
What’s really weird, is that when I downloaded the files from the various servers, DropSend was screaming at 11.5 seconds (1.2 MB per second). It’s interesting to me there’s such a disparity between upload and download performance. It smokes when you’re grabbing the file off their server, but is a dog putting it on the server. They should rename the service DropReceive.
The other three performed as expected: iDisk via Transmit (17 seconds), iDisk via the Finder (17 seconds), and YouSendIt (1:20).
My Personal Winner
First, I have to say that Apple’s iDisk has been completely exonerated. I gave it a bad rap because I was using it in the Finder and hating the stupid status display that was meaningless to me. My bad. From now on, I’m using the Transmit client with the iDisk server. I get good performance and a much improved user experience with this combination.
And thanks to all of you for your help. I now know that I’m using the best method for me. And if it’s taking too long, I’m either impatient, or too cheap to buy more bandwidth.