Colby Dropbox Service 

About the Dropbox...

Email messages with large attachments can wreak havoc on email servers and end-users' computers. Downloading such email message can take hours on a slow Internet connection and block any sending or receiving of messages through the duration. In some cases, the download will fail repeatedly, breaking the recipient's ability to receive mail at all. Also, Internet email clients add considerably to the size of the file being sent. For example, saving an Outlook Express message with an attachment adds up to 40% to the file's size. To share files larger than 1MB, use the Colby Dropbox Service to temporarily make a file (or files) available to another user across the Internet, in a secure and efficient manner.

There are two distinct kinds of users that will be accessing the Dropbox system: inside users, who are associated with the organization running the service, and outside users, which encompasses the rest of the Internet.

An inside user is allowed to create a drop-off that is to be delivered to anyone, whether he or she be an inside or outside user. An outside user is only allowed to create a drop-off that is to be delivered to an inside user. That prompts the question: what is a drop-off?
drop-off: one or more files uploaded to the Dropbox as a single entity for delivery to a user
Creating a Drop-off
When a user creates a drop-off, he or she enters some identifying information about himself or herself (name, organization, and email address); identifying information about the recipient (name and email address); and chooses what files should be uploaded to the Dropbox. If the files are successfully uploaded, an email is sent to the recipient explaining that a drop-off has been made. This email also provides a link to access the drop-off, as well as the 16-character passcode that the user must enter to gain access. Other information (the Internet address and/or hostname from which the drop-off was created, for example) is retained, so that the recipient can verify the identity of the sender.

Making a Pick-up
There are two ways to pick-up files that have been dropped-off:
  • All users can use the claim ID and passcode provided in the notification email message to access a specific drop-off.
  • An inside user, once logged-in to the system, can display a list of all drop-offs waiting for him or her in the Dropbox. Once logged-in, an inside user is able to access drop-offs without the need for the passcode.
When viewing a drop-off, the user will see quite a few things:
  • The sender and recipient information that the sender entered when the drop-off was created
  • The Internet hostname and/or address from which the drop-off was created
  • The list of files that were uploaded
  • A list of pick-ups that have been made
The recipient has 7 days to pick-up the files. Each night, drop-offs that are older than 7 days are purged from the system.

Please note that the uploaded files are not scanned for viruses, so the recipient should exercise as much caution in downloading and opening them as is appropriate. This can be as easy as verifying with the sender mentioned in the notification email that he or she indeed made the drop-off. One can also check the Internet hostname/address that was logged when the drop-off was created, to be sure that it is appropriate to the sender's Internet domain; IP addresses can be faked, though, so the former identity verification is really the most failsafe.

 The default lifetime for dropoffs is 7 days, but the system administrator can easily change this in the Dropbox's preferences.

Size Limitations on Uploads

Being able to upload files larger than 2 GB depends on the browser being used. The following major browsers have been tested:
 BrowserUploads > 2 GB?
Safari 2.0 YES
OmniWeb 5.5 YES
Firefox 1.5 NO
Firefox 2.0 NO
Internet Explorer 7 NO
Firefox 2.0 NO
Opera 9 YES

The Dropbox software itself has limits on the amount of data that can be uploaded in a single dropoff. Even for browsers that support uploads larger than 2 GB, dropoffs may not exceed 1000.0 MB per file, or 1.0 GB total for the entire dropoff.

Based upon the original Perl UD Dropbox software written by Doke Scott. Version 2.0 has been rewritten in PHP5 with an extended feature set by Jeff Frey.

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