Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a client wants you to transfer a project, including your intact file structure, remotely over the internet. FTP is an easy solution, right? If you have the space, and if your client is web-savvy enough to know what an FTP client is and how to use it.
If, on the other hand, your client hasn’t used FTP before and isn’t the most tech-oriented person in the world, transferring project folders with complicated file structures can quickly become an ordeal for all parties involved.
Zapr attempts to bypass the messy stuff and make it easy for you and your client or business partner to connect and share. The application allows you to share files quickly and easily, and installation is required on the original sharer’s PC only. It allows you to generate web links that direct others to files or folders stored locally on your computer.
You can specify whether the content is public, or private (which requires a password), but in both cases users can access the information by following a unique, randomly generated url based on your user name. You can email this link to people you want to share content with, or use the link in any HTML-capable environment, like in webpages or on blogs.
Any content you share as public will be available from your personal Zapr address, which is always http://username.zapr.com. Here’s an example of what a shared folder looks like (it’ll be active as long as my computer is on, which is almost always): http://etherin.zapr.com/9919221a90cdf718
Zapr does not restrict file type or size at all, which means that pretty much anyone who wants to share any kind of information might find some use for the service.
For instance, embedding a link to a directory in a PDF is a great way to provide ready access to appendices if you’re putting together an internal company manual or guidebook. Document size and clutter can be reduced in any given application by sharing non-essential components through Zapr rather than including them as attachments. Give clients the option to see more behind the curtain by including a link to a drafts folder with your final mock-up.
A number of functions allow you to easily integrate Zapr into your existing network. You can add contacts, either manually or through bulk imports from Outlook and webmail clients (Live Mail and Gmail). Distribution lists allow you to quickly grant access to muliple people at once, so you can easily control access across multiple project teams.
Of course, there are always catches. Zapr is only available for Windows 2000 and above, meaning no Mac support. Mac users can still use Zapr links and access shared files, though, so in that sense the application is somewhat cross-platform.
Also, the PC hosting the shared files and folders must be on in order for the link to work, since Zapr does not actually host any of the shared files. Finally, in order to do what I described at the beginning of this article, you have to zip or otherwise archive the folder, since folders themselves cannot be downloaded via Zapr uncompressed.
Despite its shortcomings, if you’re a PC user with a frequent need for quick, painless remote sharing that just works, Zapr is the tool for you. Get it free at zapr.com.