E-Mail or FTP Site: Which is for you?

Published: 13th August 2006
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The Internet is perhaps the easiest medium of transferring files, especially files that are large in size. This has been made possible by the system called File transfer Protocol that is more popularly known as FTP. The files you transfer could be anything from documents and designs to games and music. There are various providers of FTP Hosting services. All the services provided by the different providers are not identical. The features keep varying from service to service.

Sending files via email is another common way of transferring files. It depends on the individual user to decide which medium he/ she wants to opt for in order to transfer files. However, more than ones personal desire the decision would depend on his/ her requirement. For a proper understanding of this we need to take a look at the pros and cons on both FTP sites and email services.

Allowed file size

Firstly, the primary advantage of FTP over Email is that through FTP you can easily send files irrespective of their size. It is not reasonable to send a huge file through email. Certain email services allow certain file sizes. If the file crosses the size limit you will not be able to send it. However, if you do not need to send large files you do not need to invest in FTP services. An email service should suffice for your needs.

Reliability and Speed

Another advantage of FTP sites over email services is reliability. Even if email services allow large files there is no guarantee that the files will be transferred properly. The file you send and the file the recipient receives may not be exactly the same. The file may not reach the recipient at all. Hence it is more dependable to use a FTP site for sending files that are larger than 1 MB. The transfer and download facilitated by FTP sites are much faster too.

Access to files

When an FTP service creates an account for you, you are given a huge storage space. You can create various folders and upload your files as per your convenience. Through email you can send files to either an individual or the same set of files to all the people you want to. It is difficult to send different sets of files to different groups of people simultaneously. In case of FTP services you merely need to give the user name and passwords of the respective folders to the people you want to grant access of the files to.


When you send a set of files to a group of people via email you cannot restrict any individual's access to a few files. However, this is possible in case of FTP sites. Each folder that you create in your FTP account is guarded. In other words, you have a separate user name and password for each folder. Hence, people with the knowledge of a username and password will have access to that particular folder. Thus, we see that the provisions for security are better in case of FTP sites.

File Transfer

In case of email the transfer of files is only a one-way transfer while in case of a FTP site it facilitates two-way transfer of files. FTP allows files to be transferred to and fro between the FTP server and the FTP client. However, email allows the transfer of file in a one-way system only. The file is transferred and not downloaded. It is accessible only on the browser. This is another issue that needs to be considered while deciding whether an email service or FTP site is appropriate for you.

Encoding and Decoding

ASCII text is the only type of text that an email service is tailored for. It is not capable of handling files of any other type of text directly. In order to handle other types of file it has to be first converted to the binary code and then send via email but as an attachment. However, in case of FTP sites you do not need to worry about converting the text data and then later decoding it. All types of files can be managed with equal amount of ease. Nevertheless, if you do not require downloading or transferring files, besides the one with ASCII text, it is not necessary for you to use FTP sites. An email service will be sufficient for you.


Another factor that needs to be borne in mind, while debating on the issue of which service to choose, is the cost. If you do not really need the benefits offered by FTP sites then it is better to go for email services. FTP services come in exchange of a price. The costs of the services are different for different FTP hosting providers. Certain providers offer packages on a monthly rate while some other offer packages on an annual rate. There are some providers who offer free trials for a specific time period. However, once that period is over the normal charges apply. On the other hand taking a look at email services will show that most email services are free. The ones, which have monetary implications, come for an extremely reasonable charge. Nonetheless, considering all the merits of FTP it can be concluded that the cost involved is quite nominal and the service if cost effective.

Mike Jewson is a Network Engineer with "InstantFTPsites.com". You can learn more about "FTP Hosting" services online at http://www.InstantFTPsites.com

2006 InstantFTPsites http://www.InstantFTPsites.com You may reprint this article online and in print provided the links remain live and the content remains unaltered (including the "Author Biography").

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