Talk:Intranet and file sharing tools for low bandwidth

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See the original thread of this E-Discussion on D-Groups

Ole Dahl Rasmussen, 2010/01/06

Dear all,

In connection to the current discussions on SharePoint, I would like to hear any experiences with file sharing tools for low bandwitdth. My organization uses SharePoint, but is considering whether it is the most appropriate one given the fact that we have 11 country offices in developing countries.

The most common usage is fore simple file sharing, so suggestions on ways to do that efficient among 250 people around the globe are particularly welcome.


Programme Officer Denmark

Matt Moore, 2010/01/06

If you have narrow pipes / low bandwidth then you might want to consider using a bandwidth optimization technology such as riverbed.

Peter J. Bury, 2010/01/07

Good question.

Right now I'm trying to find out how a journalist based and working from Arua, West Nile region, with a yahoo and gmail address can send me a six page newsletter (black and white) compressed with an easily locally available and usable software tool. No scanner apparently, he would have to take high-resolution pictures of each page.


IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

Hapee de Groot, 2010/01/07

Hi Ole,

there are some new initiatives in this respect, commercial one with a free just not enough space, like But I also would break a leg for Dgroups again, maybe not userfriendly but there is filesharing space build within. I also know that with regards to the usability it will become better the coming month.

Kind regards,

Chahira Nouira, 2010/01/07

Hi Peter,

Hi all, Would Dropbox be a solution?

Beatrice Murray, 2010/01/07

Hi Peter,

Uploading might be slow if the bandwidth is poor but another useful site for sharing documents is (free trial version and different file sizes possible).

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development

George Mu'ammar, 2010/01/07

For low bandwidth we have found Skype to work suprisingly well for file transfer. Clearly this is a point 2 point connection so once it is sent to the fast side of the internet, then someone with broadband can post it on a server.

Geospatial Analyst VAM - Food Security Analysis Service World Food Programme of the United Nations

Gabriele Sani, 2010/01/07


If he has access to it, he can use an OCR software to convert the images to text... but the result will not be optimal. Some editing may be required, if you need to read everything. Good luck with that!!


Gabriele Sani, 2010/01/07

A good overall tool could be a peer2peer filesharing tool that allows the creation of private channels (if you are sharing sensitive information). A few years ago I was using DC++, I do not know if now there are better tools out there...

George Mu'ammar, 2010/01/07

If he can't find a scanner, can he find a fax machine ? you can receive the fax with a PC with a modem and windows fax software has OCR in it.Taking photos is very difficult he may have to mount a tripod over a desk and do many tests before the photos are readable. I used to do that to digitise maps and it's complicated.

Good Luck!!!

Alfonso Acuna, 2010/01/07

Hi Peter,

If your main interest is in the text of the newsletter you can use Adobe Online PDF creator, it uses OCR and therefore can catch the text embedded in the newsletter.

by the way, you don't need upload high definition pictures for OCR, fax quality (100p/i?) will do the trick.


Capacity Development Officer International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) Ecuador/Bolivia

Patricia Mantey, 2010/01/07

Dear Ole,

While we work with a much smaller group of people, we have used with our project staff in numerous countries in Africa as well as in Nepal, and they have been able to use this tool easily to upload and share/store files. Can create multiple folders for different activities, country teams. If offers more functionality than we use right now, including version control. We pay a small annual fee based on the amount of storage space available to us. Others have mentioned similar tools. You can try most out for free.

For Peter Bury--a free version of one of these tools might work for sending your newsletter. We use it routinely for files too large to send through e-mail.

AED, Hygiene Improvement Project

Peter J. Bury, 2010/01/07

Hapee, which dgroup would you recommend for non-specific use of low bandwidth correspondance? the km4dev-l ???

Peter J. Bury, 2010/01/07

Gabriele thanks

But as I'd like to assess the newsletter also on its readability - user friendliness - it's important to see it .pdf like, so in its original form.


Romolo Tassone, 2010/01/08

On your advice I just investigated and opened a Dropbox account for file portability.

A feature of Dropbox that could make it a great tool for people who are using poor Internet connections, is that you can set a bandwidth limit.The advantage of this is that you can keep a good chunk of bandwidth free so it doesn't affect your browsing experience and tie up your internet connection 100%.

It's free with 2GB storage or USD10/month for 50GB and USD20 for 100 GB.

If you'd like to investigate feel free to use this referral from my account (Dropbox gives an extra 250Mb free for every referral).


Peter J. Bury, 2010/01/12

Dear Romolo as the person has no penny to spend, i'm looking for something similar but as free ware.


Paul Mundy, 2010/01/12


Try ñ itís free.

Best wishes

Barbara Schelkle, 2010/01/12

Personally, I find a bit confusing to use, but this article might help:


Manager, UNDP, Office of Information and System Technology Slovak Republic

Ewen Le Borgne, 2010/01/12

Don't we love KM4DEV for these short pearls distilled here and there? Thank you all, keep it coming!

Romolo Tassone, 2010/01/13

Peter, DropBox only incurs a cost if you would like more than 5GB storage:

Darren Lancaster, 2010/01/13

Just to pile on to the dropbox bandwagon... Prior to Dropbox we we looked into some options to use storage on Amazon S3. At the time the options were limited and we chose a solution called "Bucket Explorer" which was a 1-time purchase. The upside of this S3 route was REALLY low storage costs. The huge downside is that the UI was awful so only got used by me and my finances consultant.

Now that we're on dropbox with two accounts, one free, and one for-fee at 50GB, everyone is using it and it's intuitive enough. So if it's a limited group that's sharing then check into S3 storage solution UI options, but if you want everyone to easily share then dropbox is the way to go IMO.


Gabriele Sani, 2010/01/14

Hi Peter,

Dropbox et simila are excellent if you need to share files above the limit of your email attachment. However, if your need is to use the low bandwidth in the most efficient way, I would recommend you to look into a torrent client. Torrents are designed to automatically adapt the file transfers to the available bandwidth, and if the connection is lost it will automatically restart the download as soon as possible without any loss of the previously downloaded data. In short, a torrent client is a pree2peer system to share files (of any size).

I have been using utorrent for years: it is easy to use, and allows you to securely share files with your friends/colleagues (you can find a not terribly well written howto here: I haven't looked much into competing technology, though. There are tons of clients, you could experiment with some to find out which one suits your needs (and please let us know your choice and the reasons behind it! ;) )


Ewen Le Borgne, 2010/01/14

Dear all,

Once again thank you for the great contributions made already on this discussion topic. I have summarised what you all shared on this KM4DEV wiki entry:

And since I'm not a very tech-focused person and I have no direct experience with some of these tools you mentioned, would some of you please review the (short) wiki entry and either update it yourselves or let me know how I can be more accurate?

Cheers and still keep it coming!

Cai Kjaer, 2010/01/14

Hi all,

At Optimice we have been using what used to be called It was subquently bought by Microsoft and is now called Windows Live Sync. Basically it is a free peer-to-peer file sync tool. We have used it for more than 2 years and we sync about 5gb of data between a number of PCs and laptops incl MACs. It works beautifully. The first sync is slow if you have lots of data, but after that it is pretty painless.

We have one main PC which is always on so the moment a user comes online any updated/new files are sync'ed.

Partner, Optimice