Low-Bandwidth file sharing

From KM4Dev Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search


What are tools one can use to share files, particularly large ones, over a limited bandwidth.


Bandwidth, file sharing, connectivity, low-bandwidth.

Detailed Description

This thread took place on the list in in January 2010 and started off with the simple question (by ) to find alternative solutions to intranets for file sharing. Peter Bury added a specific request about receiving a 6-page newsletter that cannot be scanned and the discussion also tackled the issue of optical character recognition, although it was really mainly focused on low bandwidth file sharing options.

KM4Dev Discussions

The discussion has rather been a listing of useful tools to share information over low bandwidth. This list is compiled here:

Matt Moore recommended using Riverbed (http://www.riverbed.com) for bandwidth optimisation). And to answer Peter's request, Gabriele suggested using an optical character recognition sofware - although this would imply further editing and Alfons Acuna recommended particularly Adobe online PDF creator (https://createpdf.adobe.com/).

Related FAQs

Low-Bandwidth Design

Further Information

N/A at this stage. Leads anyone?

Original Author and Subsequent Contributors of this FAQ

Discussion participants: Ole Dahl Rasmussen, Matt Moore, Peter Bury, Hapee de Groot, Chahira Nouira, Beatrice Murray, George Mu'ammar, Gabriele Sani, Alfonso Acuna, Patricia Mantey, Romolo Tassone, Paul Mundy, Barbara Schelkle, Darren Lancaster.

FAQ author: Ewen Le Borgne

Dates of First Creation and Further Revisions

14 January 2010

FAQ KM4Dev Source Materials

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.




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


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.

Anyone? Peter


Hi Ole,

there are some new initiatives in this respect, commercial one with a free just not enough space, like https://one.ubuntu.com/

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,



Hi Peter, Hi all, Would Dropbox be a solution? http://www.dropbox.com/ Chahira


Hi Peter,

Uploading might be slow if the bandwidth is poor but another useful site for sharing documents is www.yousendit.com/<http://www.yousendit.com/> (free trial version and different file sizes possible).



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.

(George Mu'Ammar)



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!!


(following message also by Gabriele) 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...


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!!!

(George Mu'ammar)


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


Alfonso Acuna


Dear Ole,

While we work with a much smaller group of people, we have used Filesanywhere.com 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.

Patricia Mantey


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


(next message also from Peter) 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.

Anyone? Peter


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).


Regards Romolo


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



Try www.drop.io <http://www.drop.io/> – it’s free.

Best wishes



Personally, I find drop.io a bit confusing to use, but this article might help: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-ways-to-make-use-of-dropio/

Cheers, Barbara


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


Regards (Romolo Tassone)


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.

Best, Darren