February 17, 2012
Computer networks enable users to share media files and documents with numerous people, friends, family, colleagues, business partners, etc. This concept of file sharing has been in use since times immemorial, and even before the Internet and modern file sharing techniques became popular, people had various means to share digital information. Floppy disks were in high demand then, and then came the era of CD and DVD-ROMs, to be followed by USBs and portable hard drives. Network solutions, however, are the most flexible of all options.
Network file sharing refers to the process of replicating or transferring data from one computer system to another with the aid of a live network connection. The article here explains in brief the various technologies and methods now in use for easy sharing of files.
Sharing files with MS Windows
Operating systems used in personal computers, such as MS Windows, feature their own set of software for sharing files. For example, if you are using Windows, you can choose to exchange or send files using the LAN (local area network) feature, or through drive mapping and use of Explorer. Most modern systems also enable users to create security restrictions for controlling access to these files.
FTP is the abbreviation used for File Transfer Protocol, and is amongst the popular traditional methods used for sharing files. All files are stored on a central computer, also referred to as FTP server, and remote computers that have FTP software installed enter the server to download copies of these files.
Now, almost all OSs consist of FTP features, and advanced versions of some browsers, such as Internet Explorer, even has capabilities that can be further configured to make it work like an FTP client. Nevertheless, users can also download free FTP programs for use from the internet. Similar to files sharing in Oss, some FTP servers may also employ security features to restrict anonymous access to downloadable files.
The P2P, or Peer to Peer, is actually among the most widely used file sharing service. This method of sharing files is especially used for downloading music, videos and pictures, thus involving large amount of data. In contrast to FTP, P2P does not involve the concept of a central server. Instead, all computers connected to the network are made to function as server and client simultaneously. The internet now houses several free P2P applications that have their loyal customer bases.
Email has been in use for decades now, and is rated as among the most favorite way of communicating on the internet. Just like the FTP model, email systems also function as per client/server model. Moreover, the recipient’s precise email address must be known to the sender of a message; however, the system allows both the parties involved in the communication to make use of different platforms. A limitation here is that files of small size can only be transferred, and that is usually limited by the email service provider.
Community file sharing has now become an essential part of the web, and millions of users now upload files for other members of the community to download. Although some services are free (they may involve advertising), there are others who charge a fixed monthly or annual subscription fee.