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Methods for Network File Transfer Between PCs

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You can transfer files from PC to PC over a network using any of several different software packages and methods. This process is often called "file sharing" or "file swapping." Of course, bypassing your computer network and moving files using USB keys is also an option (sometimes called "sneakernet").

1. Shared Folders in Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows operating systems allow you to designate one or more file folders on your hard drive for sharing on the network. With your permission, others can connect to your share and copy files from it.

2. Instant Messaging File Transfer

Instant Messaging software like AIM and MSN Messenger support sending file attachments to your buddies. IM programs often enforce a limit on the size of files that can be transfered. Do not accept files sent by strangers as these may carry destructive computer viruses.

3. Web-Based File Sharing Services

Various companies offer free and/or paid services for sharing files over the Internet via Web-based interfaces for uploading and downloading. Some of these services, like Dropbox, utilize <a href="/od/internetaccessbestuses/f/cloud-computing.htm">cloud computing</a> technology to better support a large number of customers. Individuals who run their own public Web sites can also <a href="/od/p2ppeertopeer/g/filesharing.htm">host files</a> online.

4. FTP Software

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is one of the oldest technologies for transferring files across the Internet. To use FTP, files must first be posted on a server computer. Then, others can obtain a copy of the files using a software application called an FTP client.

5. P2P Software

So-called P2P (Peer 2 Peer) software applications allow files to be sent and received across the Internet. P2P systems like BitTorrent are designed to handle very large files such as music and videos efficiently.

6. Remote Access Software

Remote access software applications are designed to support remote login from one of your computers to another across the Internet. Many of these applications like RealVNC include a file transfer function allowing you to copy files between the two computers as needed.

7. Email

Email applications are designed to transfer messages between two parties. Most modern email systems allow the ability to attach files to a message. These attachments can be emailed from one computer to a central email server, where they can be downloaded unto another computer. Email was designed for smaller amounts of data; many email systems place a limit on the size of individual files that can be transferred. Compressing files before emailing them can help workaround these limits.
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