Last week, SugarSync (an online backup, remote access, and file-sharing solution) — to which I am a paid subscriber — sent me news of a feature that has since been made publicly available. Called Public Links, the feature basically allows files stored in one's SugarSync cloud-hosted account to be publicly shared via nothing more than a URL. (See my earlier post introducing SugarSync services.)
I placed the news on the back burner for a few days, and only just now did I give it a spin. I must say that Public Links really surprised me in terms of its usability. All I had to do was browse to the relevant file using the client-side SugarSync Manager utility. Right-clicking on a desired file gave me the option to "Get Public Link," which automatically creates a unique URL like the one shown below.
https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D668734_701120_675323 (Link has been scrambled)
Simply paste the URL into a Web browser and hit Enter in order to download the file. The steps are similar for its Web-based UI.
Several uses of this feature immediately come to my mind.
Complement your Web hosting
One possible use for Public Links is using it to complement your company's Web hosting plan. Of course, some might argue that hosting bandwidth is far cheaper than buying a corresponding SugarSync subscription. While this might be true in the U.S., it is not necessarily the case for hosting in other geographical locations. Where I live in Singapore, SugarSync is significantly cheaper in terms of monthly allowable traffic.
Even within the U.S., there is also the possibility that you do not want to overly tax or exceed your Web host's bandwidth limit on a popular file. In such instances, Public Links can be used as a download source without negatively affecting your hosting plan. This makes sense since standard hosting plans do not allow any configuring of bandwidth limits.
To this end, SugarSync offers a free 2GB account that allows users to share files up to 5MB. Subscribers are allowed to share files up to 2GB each.
The other possible use that comes to mind is a replacement for FTP. While Public Links is different in the sense that there is no login, its very simplicity means that contractors will find it trivial to download large files using URLs sent to them.
Having worked in organizations that require large files to be transferred on a near daily basis, I can recall the headaches of having to help non-IT personnel from both vendors and customers to download requisite work files for artwork or design of products. For greater security, all files shared by Public Links can be disabled at the end of the workday or when the files are downloaded.
Another benefit of Public Links is that the account owner is able to see the number of file downloads. As mentioned earlier, a download link can also be disabled at any time by the account owner, allowing complete visibility and control over a file's activity.
Are there any innovative, yet easy-to-use cloud solutions that you have encountered? Share them with us here.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.