UPDATE 18-Nov-08: I missed this one; not sure what changed -- Google Docs DOES NOT allow sharing of PDFs. Of course a single user can store and view a PDF; you just cannot share it.I looked into free file hosting, to see if I could find a place to store a few PDFs for this blog. The real need came from my current host, Blogger, not providing this service when I last checked in August. It is free, so I can't really complain, yet it is part of Google that gives me 10 GBs free for using their Gmail and Picasa services -- that are also free. Of course I could use Google Docs, but then that forces me to format my documents to fit their tool."Please note, at this time you can only share PDFs from the Docs list, not the PDF itself. Publishing a PDF so that anyone can view has not yet been implemented."I guess I am back to finding an alternative.
STOP - I spoke too soon, Google Docs now supports PDFs; I can host any PDF up to 10 MB in size (and I can always purchase more space). This is great news, as it helps tie together one more piece in having an integrated blogging solution.
While I'm here though, I thought I'd share a little about what I learned about some free hosting services. I started on a free hosting list page, which had a number of possibilities -- most looking too good to be true. Here's the three that I clicked through to look at more closely.
- DataFileHost.com: This is the first site I look at. 25 MB of free space. No file management; just an upload screen on the home page with a 4-character captia. I'm returned with a download link and a delete link. When you click on the file link, you get a couple Google Content Ads -- a reasonable trade. The one caveat to the service is the file has to be downloaded at least once every 30 days. I want a more permanent solution that will persist after the newness wears off. Time to move on.
- FileAve.com: They offer 50 MB of free storage, and will hold your files as long as you login at least once every 30 days. I actually signed up for this one, as they made it rather easy. I was immediately able to upload files, which I stored in a subfolder I labeled PDFs. Upon completion, I realized I had a newer version of a file, and attempted to upload it. I say attempted, because I was returned an out of server space message. I tried deleting the older one, still no luck -- out of space. I figure it's temporary, so no problem, "What do you expect for free?" I then realized I made a typo in my username (lower instead of uppercase), but FileAve doesn't allow me to change it. Time to move on.
- FastFiles: Promises a whopping 100 MB of free storage. this site is not quite clear on what it wants to do. There's no way to register or manage files, yet the FAQs claims to have my email address and that it can limit my usage. Nevertheless, once I do upload and then look at the download experience, its not what I want to share with my users. The download page is covered with a dark shading, and you cannot view the file until you click through an ad or take a survey. This is served by cpalead.com ("Leading Advertising Solutions"), and if you have a script blocker such as NoScript, you can actually avoid this mess. Not something for more users; time to move on.
- GoogleDocs. This is where I realize I either need to get a different hosting solution (which will eventually happen anyway) or give up on the idea. I decide to give GoogleDocs a look, again, to see if I can squeeze something into their format -- and here I find my solution.
Google Docs File Upload Specs:
Documents (up to 500KB)
- HTML files and plain text (.txt).
- Microsoft Word (.doc), Rich Text (.rtf), OpenDocument Text (.odt) and StarOffice (.sxw).
- Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pps).
- Comma Separated Value (.csv).
- Microsoft Excel (.xls) files and OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods).
- Trackable using Google Analytics
- Several RSS feed options
- Offline access using Gears