How to Upload Faster From a Browser (Send and Receive Large Files Quickly)
Have you ever tried to send or receive large files from your browser window? For example, downloading a ZIP file with video assets from Google Drive? If the answer is yes, you have experienced slow file transfers first-hand.
Why is it that browsers—the entry point to the internet—struggle to execute big file transfers? Most cloud services (Dropbox, Slack, etc.) have a desktop app that is better at sharing/downloading data than their browser counterpart.
Are browsers only good for search? Should complex functions be left to a dedicated app?
Browsers have inherent limitations but they are capable of sending large files over the internet. At MASV, we successfully send large files (TB+) to destinations around the world using a browser window. This post will explore:
- How browsers send packages of data?
- What causes latency?
- How to upload faster?
- The MASV approach to file sharing
Why use a browser in the first place?
Anyone well-versed in file sharing will tell you to avoid a browser and use a dedicated app, if possible. The transfer will be faster and more reliable. While this is true, browsers don’t have any barriers to entry. They are accessible and don’t require downloads or IT permissions. They can work on any device with little to no effort.
The question isn’t whether we should choose between a browser or an app. Rather, it’s how can we improve browser performance to make a popular, easy-to-use option even more valuable?
How browsers send packages of data?
Aside from a few use cases, browsers send packages in a ‘single request’. If you want to send 10 GB worth of files to your client for review, the browser will take all those bytes and send it in one shot, as one big file.
The time it takes for the package to reach the server at its final destination—AKA latency—is the cause for frustration. If you are sending a huge file from the West coast in the States all the way to a server in South-East Asia, it will naturally take longer than if you sent the file to Canada.
The further the distance and heavier the file, the longer it will take.
If I use the tried-and-true metaphor of the internet as a super highway; your 10 GB transfer is a large truck carrying a delivery. The truck will reach its destination but due to the size of its load and the distance, it will take longer than usual.
Latency is determined by:
- The size of the package
- The distance between servers
- The reliability of one’s network and machine
With this in mind, how can one reduce latency to make transfers over a browser faster?
How to Upload Faster?
Use a wired connection
Connecting your device to your network source via an ethernet cable will instantly improve transfer speeds. This is good practice for any task that requires serious processing power.
Reduce the number of devices connected to the internet
The more devices on a single network, the slower the bandwidth. If your file transfer is competing with your partner streaming on Twitch in the next room, you’re in for a slow night. By reducing the number of devices connected to one network, you will have a stronger connection to work off.
This has become a notable pain this past year with people working remotely in the same household. It makes the need for a stable and reliable file sharing service that works over a browser all the more important.
Do not switch tabs
When sharing a file, do not navigate away from the main transmission tab. Your machine balances CPU usage by the number of tabs you have open and which one is in use. Sending a file and switching over to another tab tells your machine the new tab is now the primary focus. This takes power away from your transfer tab which can increase latency.
Send from a local disk
Sharing files from a local disk—a machine’s hard drive—is faster than using a folder synced to a cloud storage. For a browser to access a file from the cloud, it has to ping the right server, retrieve the package, and then queue it for transfer. Local disk uploads are exclusive to the machine. They don’t require additional requests.
Send smaller files
Splitting up the main 10 GB file into smaller chunks reduces the strain on your network. You are sending additional files but they are more manageable and hence, easier to transmit.
A Note About ZIP Files
We’ve discussed how to send large files over the internet but how about receiving them? Specifically, receiving and extracting files from a ZIP folder.
ZIP folders are prone to file corruption.
Because OSes have slightly different protocols for ZIP file formats. A set of files zipped in MacOS might not open on a Windows machine. The files themselves are not the issue. The way individual platforms analyze the data in ZIP files can be incompatible. This leads to corruption.
It’s hard to gauge what causes incompatibility. From our experience, we have noticed a 4 GB threshold between Apple and PC devices. Anything above 4 GB results in an error message when extracting data.
The irony is, there is no way around this. Browsers can only download one file at a time. They don’t have the ability to read file structures and download multiple files as a folder to your machine. You can send loose files to avoid compatibility issues but a browser will always download a set of files as ‘one file’ through zipping.
The MASV approach
When we set out to create a fast, easy, and trusted file sharing service, we knew the browser would be essential. Browsers are accessible and understood by all levels of competency. In order to make browsers reliable, we applied our understanding of latency to improve the transfer experience.
MASV automatically splits files down to smaller pieces using logic. It then sends multiple small requests rather than one large single request—an action known as multi-threaded file transfer. Going back to the highway analogy; MASV is a dispatch that offloads 10 GB from one truck to smaller vehicles. This reduces latency and helps in the event of a network crash. If three out of the five vehicles make it to the destination before the crash, MASV only has to resume travel for the remaining two cars. Not an entire truck.
- Locates the closest server between you and your destination so bytes have a shorter distance to travel.
- Optimizes for max transfer speeds. No throttling.
- Maintains file structures to avoid zipping files prior to sharing.
- Downloads ZIP formats to work with a machine’s built-in archive tool.
We are confident that MASV’s browser capabilities can handle large file transfers. For the times it can’t, due to native limitations of a browser, we have the MASV App for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Your own dedicated highway running on Amazon’s AWS infrastructure.
- Triple your speed and send terabytes of data quickly.
- Pause and resume downloads at your leisure.
- Avoid the hassle of dealing with ZIP files with our direct-to-file system structure.
- Set up automations for mundane tasks.
- Pick back up where you left off after a network crash.
“We test drove a bunch of different file transfer platforms, and MASV was the only one that always worked without fail” – Jordan Maltby, Editor and CEO of Shadow Magic Studios
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