PipeBytes: Direct Online File Sending

There are a lot of ways to send large files online. One my favorites is Senduit from Davidville (the Tumblr guys), which I wrote about in April. I like its simplicity and how easy it is to use. Unfortunately, Senduit, which is built on the back of Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, has a 100mb file limit and though speedy on the download, requires that the file first be fully uploaded before downloading can begin.

PipeBytes is a new service that cuts out the middle man. The service has no file size limits and lets recipients begin downloading before the file is finished uploading — in fact, that file doesn’t begin to upload until someone starts downloading on the other end. While files are being transferred, a YouTube video plays in the browser window to keep you occupied, and an animated status indicator shows you the progress of your transfer.

I was able to successfully send an 80mb MP3 file to Marshall Kirkpatrick via the service. Though we were both shown different videos, they seems uncannily matched content-wise to the file I was sending — which was a DJ mix, and I was shown a video of a turntable routine. I’m not sure if PipeBytes read the file note I left, which mentioned what type of music the MP3 was, and tried to match up a like video or if it was a coincidence (I think I’d lean toward the latter).

It’s not clear how PipeBytes works, but my guess is that the site is establishes a direct connection between the uploader and downloader. There are a few reasons I think this: 1. Your file doesn’t start uploading until someone is downloading, 2. It can only send to one person at a time, 3. Their FAQ says files “are sent directly to your peer.”

If that’s the case, PipeBytes should be spending virtually nothing on bandwidth. Though it does raise some questions about the usefulness of the service. If all it is doing is establishing a direct connection, what is the advantage over doing the same thing via instant messenger, Skype, or IRC (DCC Send)? The advantage of file sending sites like Senduit is that they allow the downloader to get quicker speeds on their end as a result of getting the files through a faster pipe. Also, they are asynchronous, so uploader and downloader don’t have to be online at the same time. When both of those advantages are removed, why not just use IM?

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