Clemson University Filedrop Service unlocked

About the Filedrop...

Email messages with large attachments can wreak havoc on email servers and end-users' computers. Downloading such email message can take hours on a slow Internet connection and block any sending or receiving of messages through the duration. In some cases, the download will fail repeatedly, breaking the recipient's ability to receive mail at all. Also, Internet email clients add considerably to the size of the file being sent. For example, saving an Outlook Express message with an attachment adds up to 40% to the file's size. To share files larger than 1MB, use the Clemson University Filedrop Service to temporarily make a file (or files) available to another user across the Internet, in a secure and efficient manner.

There are two distinct kinds of users that will be accessing the Filedrop system: inside users, who are associated with the organization running the service, and outside users, which encompasses the rest of the Internet.

An inside user is allowed to create a drop-off that is to be delivered to anyone, whether he or she be an inside or outside user. An outside user is only allowed to create a drop-off that is to be delivered to an inside user. That prompts the question: what is a drop-off?
drop-off: one or more files uploaded to the Filedrop as a single entity for delivery to a user
There are two ways in which a user can dropoff multiple files at once: Creating a Drop-off
When a user creates a drop-off, he or she enters some identifying information about himself or herself (name, organization, and email address); identifying information about the recipient (name and email address); and chooses what files should be uploaded to the Dropbox. If the files are successfully uploaded, an email is sent to the recipient explaining that a drop-off has been made. This email also provides a link to access the drop-off, as well as the 16-character passcode that the user must enter to gain access. Other information (the Internet address and/or hostname from which the drop-off was created, for example) is retained, so that the recipient can verify the identity of the sender.

Making a Pick-up
There are two ways to pick-up files that have been dropped-off:
  • All users can use the claim ID and passcode provided in the notification email message to access a specific drop-off.
  • An inside user, once logged-in to the system, can display a list of all drop-offs waiting for him or her in the Dropbox. Once logged-in, an inside user is able to access drop-offs without the need for the passcode.
When viewing a drop-off, the user will see quite a few things:
  • The sender and recipient information that the sender entered when the drop-off was created
  • The Internet hostname and/or address from which the drop-off was created
  • The list of files that were uploaded
  • A list of pick-ups that have been made
The recipient has 5 days to pick-up the files. Each night, drop-offs that are older than 5 days are purged from the system.

Please note that the uploaded files are scanned for viruses, but the recipient should still exercise as much caution in downloading and opening them as is appropriate. This can be as easy as verifying with the sender mentioned in the notification email that he or she indeed made the drop-off. One can also check the Internet hostname/address that was logged when the drop-off was created, to be sure that it is appropriate to the sender's Internet domain; IP addresses can be faked, though, so the former identity verification is really the most failsafe.

Resumable Downloading of Files

Some web browsers support resumable downloads. Imagine this scenario: you're sitting at your local coffee shop, downloading a 50MB PDF that a student uploaded to Filedrop for you. Suddenly, someone a few tables away starts watching the latest HD movie trailer (well, attempting to, anyway) and your wireless connection drops — you were 45MB into the download, and now you have to start over! Not so, if your browser supports resumable downloads; in which case, the browser requests only the remaining 5MB of the file.

Dropbox 2 features support for the server-side components of resumable download technology under the HTTP 1.1 standard. If you're a Safari, Opera, or OmniWeb user then rest assured, you can resume interrupted downloads, we've tested it!

Size Limitations on Uploads

The Dropbox software itself has limits on the amount of data that can be uploaded in a single dropoff. Even for browsers that support uploads larger than 2 GB, dropoffs may not exceed 2.0 GB per file, or 293.0 GB total for the entire dropoff.

If you are having the following issues when dropping-off or picking-up a large file: then you are most likely connected to the Internet via a connection too slow to move the amount of data in a timely fashion. Your computer has approximately 10 minutes to fully send or receive a dropoff.

Using the Filedrop as a Web-form-processing Agent

The Clemson University Filedrop service is based on the Dropbox2 software written by Jeff Frey at the University of Delaware. The Dropbox software has a feature called the Dropbox Referral Service (or DRS) that allows you to point a web form containing file upload controls to Filedrop , rather than to the usual email-based delivery CGIs you may be using. The uploaded files are augmented by one more file (XML, text, or HTML content) containing the additional form data from your page. The usual notification mechanisms in the Filedrop service allow the recipient(s) of the form to be notified by email with pickup information and the sender to be emailed when the dropoff is picked-up. See the documentation page for Dropbox2 at the University of Delaware for more details on this feature.

[php5] Based upon the original Perl UD Dropbox software written by Doke Scott. Version 2.0 has been rewritten in PHP5 with an extended feature set by Jeff Frey.

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