What is File Transfer?

data sharing

A file transfer is the exchange of data files between computer systems. According to Techopedia: “A file transfer is the process of copying or moving a file from one computer to another over a network or Internet connection. It makes it possible to share, transfer or transmit a file or a logical data object between different users and/or computers, locally and remotely.

Data files can be structured or unstructured, including documents, multimedia, graphics, text, and PDFs. They can be shared by downloading or uploading and transmitted inside or outside the company.

A free transfer 10 GB is typically governed by a communications protocol, a set of rules that define how information is transmitted between computers on a network. File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) are examples of common standards in use today.

file tranfer

Evolution of File Transfer

File transfer started in the 1970s when people started looking beyond floppy disks to distribute digital content. One of the first online file-sharing platforms was Usenet, an electronic bulletin board that allowed members of a community to post news. This feature allowed users to share data files with other chat group members.

In 1985, the first communication protocol, FTP, was established. The file transfer standard allowed users to transmit data between different computer systems using the same set of rules and syntax.

In the 1990s, the Internet opened up communications across the world, allowing people to share information over a massive network of computers. America Online (AOL) became one of the first Internet service providers. It offered a subscription-based email platform, with a range of web services, including file transfer.

The Napster music site was established in 1999, allowing users to share mp3 audio files with their peers. In the first year, 4 million songs were in circulation. 2 The site is widely regarded as the premier peer-to-peer file sharing service. It paved the way for other sharing networks such as Gnutella and Freenet in the early 2000s.

Today, many high-speed file transfer solutions are available to manage the flow of digital information. Cloud storage data sharingsystems, like Dropbox and iCloud, allow users to store digital files of all types (including photos and videos) offsite. Through this service, users can access files and transfer them from any device to any device.

Copyright and Security

The widespread transfer of files and sharing of digital content has posed ethical and legal issues over the years. According to Wikipedia, “File sharing raises copyright issues and has resulted in numerous lawsuits. For example, in one case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that creators of peer-to-peer networks can be held liable if their software is marketed as a copyright infringement tool.

File transfer security is also a key issue. A recent investigation by Digital Shadows found that 1.5 billion data files were exposed through misconfigured FTP, remote file and directory synchronization (Rsync), and other file transfer systems. “The vast data exposure includes documents spanning payroll data, tax filing information, medical records, credit card data, and intellectual property.

Data breaches and failed transfers can impact an organization’s bottom line and reputation. According to a study by IBM Security and the Poneman Institute (PDF, 1.6 MB)  , the average cost of a data breach in 2018 was $3.86 million. The estimated cost for each lost or stolen record is $148.