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Are there alternatives to zip files for downloading large files

Posted on 2011-02-21
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Last Modified: 2014-11-12
This is the background for my problem:

I have a commercial website in which I sell digital products. Recently I added a new series of products each one of which consist of: one digital PDF e-book, one SWF file, and 2 folders-each one of which contains approximately 200-300 images.

The way I had set it up was with one main zip file that contains everything above; and for each of the folders, I had a zip file of the folder. The real difficulties occur for the one product I have which is a "collection" of 5 separate products, each one consisting of the 4 components listed above (PDF, SWF, 2 folders).

When downloading the "collection," my customer would need to click on 5 download buttons, each one representing one complete product (all 4 components). I need to do it that way because the maximum file size for my server that hosts the products is 50 MBs.

For the last 2 months I have been running into a disproportionately high number of customers who experience problems both downloading and unzipping the files. That is in spite of the fact that I provide detailed instructions for doing both.

That is the background. I know that an alternative would be to mail a physical CD to everyone who purchases, but that kills the instant gratification of getting the product immediately and sets up a lot of manual work that right now I prefer not to add to my schedule.

Is there any alternative in which a large amount of material (200 MBs-300 MBs) can be hosted and downloaded by customers, OTHER THAN USING ZIP FILES? FTP services such as yousendit would not work for the initial download, because of a number of security issues involving multiple downloads by different people, from one purchase.

I don't know if anything exists that provides a workable alternative to the zip file approach in my case, but I figured that if anybody would know, it would be Expert Exchange.

Please feel free to propose alternate approaches I could use which I have not mentioned (and therefore have not thought of yet). Thank you very much for your assistance.
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Question by:photoman11
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Assisted Solution

by:woolnoir
woolnoir earned 100 total points
ID: 34945942
Have you thought about creating a installation package using something like WISE packager (assuming windows usage) - or are you looking at cross platform usage ?
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by:photoman11
ID: 34946787
I am completely unfamiliar with what WISE is. Most of the products can be sold to both Windows and Mac owners, while some are only for windows, if that has any bearing on this installation package thing you mentioned.

How does that work?
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Expert Comment

by:ddsh79
ID: 34961031
try uploading the files at amazon aws s3. it is the best one i have been using for all type of static content. many of the service providers are switching to this service and more of it it is very cheap.

http://aws.amazon.com/s3/
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Author Comment

by:photoman11
ID: 34964285
ddsh79,

I just finished visiting the link you supplied and I couldn't really tell if it was appropriate for my situation. I filled out a form requesting that somebody from their support department contact me, but based on previous experience, I have no idea what week that'll happen.

The impression I got from the little I understood was that it wasn't necessarily appropriate or practical for someone selling digital products. Do you know if that would be accurate or not?

In addition, while I'm waiting for them to respond, can you think of anything else which might be an alternate approach?

Thank you very much for your help on this.
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by:
ddsh79 earned 400 total points
ID: 34967306
you need not to wait for them to contact you. just create an account for s3 and it is on the fly. all you need is an s3 firefox plugin and you can do anything with it. just create a bucket(folder) and upload the files in it, set the permissions and it will be available for the world to download.

use the link in you website and that is it.

here is a link to do it step by step

http://css-tricks.com/how-to-set-up-and-host-a-publicly-accessible-file-on-amazon-s3-simple-storage-service/
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Author Comment

by:photoman11
ID: 34967374
ddsh79,

Thank you. This seems like a really good tool except I I'm not sure if it would work for what I am trying to do. Here's why ...

I sell an electronic product. Someone buys it, PayPal takes care of the financial transaction, and sends the buyer back to a webpage with a link to download what they bought.

I use DL Guard as my download security and customer management software. Basically, I set everything up in DL Guard as to where on a server I have everything to download. I give DL Guard the URL were my product is.

DL Guard makes sure that the link sent to the buyer is unique, has no relationship to where the product actually is, and has a set amount of times the buyer can download it; and a time frame for how long the link will remain active. This prevents one person buying the product and 25 people downloading it.

All that information is captured and maintained within DL Guard and that's where I have all my customer/sales history.

From what I briefly read in the link you sent me above, the "bucket" needs to be made public, and is a static URL. Before I go through and set everything up for a test run, I'm wondering if you think the following would work:

Right now, I have all my products hosted on a server, and each product is in a unique zip file that is connected to a URL. If I use Amazon's bucket URL instead of the current URL where my product is hosted, do you think that will work?

The other thing that is pretty much the main reason I'm doing this, is-can I place hundreds of MBs worth of information in a bucket WITHOUT HAVING ANY ZIP FILES?

Thank you very much.
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Expert Comment

by:ddsh79
ID: 34967462
ah! sorry for not understanding your question properly.

the files in bucket can be made private to users and i have not tested it completely. so not sure if this is going to server the purpose.

you can put any number or  type or size(at least not in gigs) of files in a bucket.

i do not have any idea on dl guard.
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