I have a web space. The one you are currently visiting. I also use it to hand out files to other people. Usually, I upload them to a directory with deactivated file listing and just hand over a link to that file. Unfortunately this practive leads to problems with people being unable to "use" the file.

The situation

Given the following scenario: I recorded something and want to provide it to someone else. So I render a file, say a thunderstorm.mp3 and upload it to, say, http://things.ad001.de/a thunderstorm.mp3. Then I send this link to the recipient using email. Later he answers that he cannot use the link and that I shall attach the file and transmit it via mail.

The problems I encountered so far

So there are many things that can go wrong when sending a direct link to a media file. This is why I stopped sending these and doing something else.

Use directories

It's suprisingly easy to circumvent all the problems mentioned above.
Instead of uploading the file to http://things.ad001.de/, create a subdirectory and upload the file to e.g. http://things.ad001.de/upload1 and hand over this link. Do not put spaces in it. In this case, the link shall be short and bets a good that it will make it to the browser without confusion. The browser will show a file listing. He may even override the web server's default -- whatever. What counts is that the link to the actual file is presented within the browser -- the visible name being a thunderstorm.mp3 the link pointing to a%23thunderstorm.mp3. The user can click it -- and maybe a plugin will be activated. But the user can also use the context menu of almost every browser (I really cannot recall a browser not offering this action) and download the linked content. Voila.

Hints for practical usage

You should not start numbering up directories. If I receive a link to http://files.some.dom/0021/, I will of course also try http://files.some.dom/0020 and may find files not intended to be seen by me. To avoid this, I use a barcode reader and just use the bar code of something on my desk as directory name. Candy. Office supplies. Water bottles. Barcodes are everywhere. Of course, they can be guessed, too.
Also do not forget, this is by no means secure. If you want to be sure that files are only viewn by those pairs of eyes intended to see them, use encryption and http authentication! Even better, hand them personally on a USB key, if you do not want to trust the web server's integrity.

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