It was something my boss mentioned that triggered this whole hair pulling experience.
He wanted to know if we could utilize a professional looking section in our website that looked like yousendit.com which provided our affiliates and clients with a section in our website for them to download their files from. Being a little more tech savvy than the average individual I went and researched the issue and came up with two solutions.
- You get a membership with a website like yousendit.com and maybe spend an average of $3,000 per year because we’ll need multiple users on the system
- Purchase a php script for around $200 and install it on our servers and have our clients download the files from us directly instead of paying yousendit.com to host our files.
I was definitely pro the second option since that meant that I would save our company money and we don’t often have to use this website based application so it wont be too big a burden on our measly middle eastern internet bandwidth and we don’t have to abide by any company’s storage limit since it will be hosted on our servers.
Then it struck me that it would be a great thing for my voice over business website to have a nice professional looking download area for my clients. I mean I am sure they would appreciate a professional looking site that was:
1. easy to use
2. professional looking
With a budget of 0$ and close to no knowledge of how to install a php website I started looking for free php scripts (I stumbled on the fact that that was what I needed to run my file download section).
For the past 2 or 3 days now I’ve been testing this and finally came across a free script called W2box.
here is a demo of what your download section will look like if you install it on your server:
That specific page allows for anonymous users to upload files. With a little tweaking in the php I was able to make it so only I can upload and the section only provides my clients with just a nice looking download area. (apparently modifying it isn’t a problem because they tell you what to do but coming up with the code is close to impossible with my lack of programming knowledge)
I am still not happy with what I’ve found… I’d love to have a more customized look and feel to the page… but compared to what I had before … which is only a link that was impersonal and might not even work due to a possible typo … its a bit better.
Installing the script is actually quite easy if you are able to log onto your site using ftp. You will need to put it in a folder in your root directory (public_html) I would suggest you call that folder (downloads) or (uploads) and with the w2box script its as easy as just placing the files into that folder (not the root … rather the new download file) … when you point your browser to that section … lets say www.yoursitename.com slash downloads then you will see the folder system that can be seen in the url I mentioned above for the w2box demo.
Here is my question to you guys…
how do you present your audio files to your clients? Do you:
a. Email them large files
b. Upload the files to their servers?
c. Use websites like yousendit.com?
d. Upload the files to your website server? and if so do you use a web based application to make your download section look professional?
This article might seem a little techy so if you have any questions or want me to simplify any part of it for you please don’t hesitate to ask.
Also… yes I left out the URL for the download section on my website on purpose… its for my clients only.
I’m in the process of redesigning my Ozvox Audio website using a very flexible WordPress theme called Thesis. I think it is actually looking better than before.
At present I just use a simple download area on the websites server which presents the files in a very basic way.
I’ll have a go at using W2box and see what results I get.
I’d be interested for you to send me the tweaked code to allow only you to upload.
Keep on doing what you’re doing. Very informative and well worth a 5 minute break to peruse your latest missive.
How have you been, my smarter Canadian brother? By smarter, I mean living in warmer climate. It’s August and about 12C here. My wife had to wear gloves on our walk tonight!!!
To your point, I have a download area on my website. My clients are provided with a user name (typically ddclient1, etc.) and a password. I upload the files through my hosting account. They can go my website and under “Log In” navigation tab, log onto access their files.
As an example of how it helps my clients, I had a narration file that was 12MB ready for my client today. He emailed saying his email account couldn’t handle more than 8 MB, but he would one of his folks set up an FTP folder for me on Monday. He was delighted that I could give him access to his file today, hassle and cost free.
I’d love to say I’m techy, but I had it built in when I had the website built (again, by someone much smarter than me).
A short while ago, I finished my fourth audio book, a five and a half hour project. I used FireZilla to upload the files to my clients’ account, and it took about 45 minutes for him to receive every single file. It was easy, it was painless and it was free. I’ve used the same method for one of my clients in Spain.
Having said that, I’m a big fan of YouSendIt. The free service allows you to attach and send one file per email, and the program is neatly integrated into my Outlook account. Once the email has been sent, the client receives an email with a link to your file, and has ten days to retrieve it.
http://www.coffeecup.com is another option. Apart from a lot of other small business software, they offer a drag-and-drop FTP client that’s supposedly “intuitive and easy”.
I believe it sells for $39, but there’s a free trial version available.
Hope this helps!
Even techies have a very difficult time keeping up, since technology changes from minute to minute. Any technology that streamlines the services we offer, that makes us more competitive in the marketplace, that gives us that extra edge, is well worth the time and effort.
I’ve used FTP delivery methods, e-mail, and most of the free upload services like YouSendIt.com and TrahsferBigFiles.com with varying degrees of success. As with most things technological, each has it’s pros and cons.
As most of you know, I’m one of the executive producers of the VOICE conference coming up in LA next June. We needed an efficient way to handle registrations and deliver files to a wide variety of International clients (our attendees) and none of the traditional methods would do the job quite the way we wanted. I also wanted a system that was completely under my control. So I spent about a month researching different options and came up with the idea of using a member site to handle everything.
As it turns out, a member site not only gives us a great way to selectively delivery files, but is also works as a marketing system to schedule e-mail delivery to our clients, and has a whole bunch of features that take client file delivery to an entirely new level.
It won’t be for everyone as it does require some minimal technical savvy, but a member site might be worth looking into. I’ve just posted a blog on our site that explains what we’re doing in much greater detail: http://voiceacting.com/blog/?p=435
Thanks, Taji for keeping the interesting topics coming.
While I applaud your initiative, I think you’ve got rocks in your head installing a free script onto your server for professional purposes. There are just too many vulnerabilities in php scripts and file download implementations in general to expose yourself and your clients to that sort of risk.
My company releases several dozen new security alerts every day for vulnerabilities, malcode, botnets, worms and trojans every day. It’s too much for the pros to keep track of…much less folks with unrelated responsibilities.
I’ve been using Dropbox with good success and will take a look at yousendit.
Thanks for the article, it has been on my mind lately.
Well you know what they call me around here… Mahmoud “rocks in his head” Taji.
Like I mentioned in the article I am still looking for a better method of delivering my files to my clients in an efficient, secure and professional looking way.
Since you are well immersed in the tech field… would you be able to explain further if all php code is problematic or can we use variations of it… also what other alternatives are there.
Thanks for dropping by … and I hope you can provide us with a little more info and alternative solutions.
My company, a computer security company, has a global IT staff to watch what’s happening 24×7 in NOCs around the globe. We dumped FTP more than 10 years ago and now use SharePoint servers (which have their own problems).
All code a person is unqualified to audit for security concerns is problematic. Sure there are some good scripts, but how do you know? I have databases to use for research, but even with those resources I won’t use freebies.
I strongly recommend that you pay for the professionally run services that you need. Even if you hire the services of a professional developer to install a proper utility, they may be security illiterates; or worse, a massive vulnerability in the script they install is announced the day after they’ve done the job.
The only problem with using a service provider is in branding your product. Some service providers allow you to re-brand there sites (although I haven’t looked for that feature in the V/O industry yet).
If this doesn’t satisfy you, then have your site regularly pen tested to certify that it is secure.
Quite frankly, I’ve run into more malicious/suspect websites exploring the voice actor, voice coaching, voice agent online community than when I was visiting black hat sites for work. The most recently flagged site (flagged by google) was a site dedicated to helping talent build effective websites to promote their businesses. I always report these problems to the business involved figuring they won’t know…and so far they haven’t had a clue.
For those who have a Me.com account (formerly Dot Mac) there are several options for sharing files, including password protection and links that time out. About $99/yr for an account.
On WordPress there are several Shopping Cart options that not only will monitor downloads but also collect before giving access if this is desired. In a higher volume operation configuring the files etc could be onerous. Free & up.
The process I have used for the past couple of years has served me well: I just ftp the file(s) after zipping them and provide a download link via email. For example, I would send you an email indicating your file is available at http://www.voicetalentproductions.com/taji.zip. Quick and dirty but effective and, I believe, professional. This also comes in handy when working with new clients who you may not have full trust in. I let them know that once I receive a notification from PayPal that payment has been sent I immediately provide the link.
A few folks like to use YouSendIt to send me large files (ftp would be preferable, but whatever) and a few of them send the link to themselves first and then forward the email they receive to me. It cuts down on a few steps and doesn’t require the end user to have an account.
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