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Minbox merges e-mail and the cloud for frictionless file sharing

Marco Tabini | May 23, 2013
Sharing files is often an exercise in patience, marred by slow upload speeds and complex workflows. Minbox, a newly-launched free service for OS X, aims to change all that.

With Minbox, files are automatically compressed (the app even supports lossy compression options for things like images, sound files, and videos), and then transferred securely to a central location. The recipients only receive a simple e-mail that directs them to a Web URL, where the data can be downloaded or viewed directly online in the form of slick HTML5-powered galleries--which, incidentally, can even handle images in RAW format.

Turning sharing upside down
Compared to its competitors, Minbox's genius is that it turns the sharing process upside down by allowing you to complete your entire sharing transaction in one go, and then taking care of the data transfer process in background while you're safely off doing something else.

While this doesn't speed up your Internet connection, it does help reduce the likelihood that you'll forget that you were waiting for the files to upload only to later find out that your intended recipients are still waiting for the data you promised them.

Minbox also has the added advantage of being totally free--in fact, you don't even need to use its e-mailing mechanism, and can instead opt to upload files directly and get a link to their cloud copies that you can share however you like.

Few limitations, and a great idea
The only limitation that Minbox imposes on its users is that the uploaded files expire after thirty days, at which point they're purged from storage and become unavailable. Otherwise, there are no restrictions either in the size of the files, or in the frequency of the sharing. The company plans to incorporate longer data retention periods, in addition to enhanced security features, in an upcoming "Pro" edition, although no pricing or availability have been announced.

In my tests, the app performed well, and its workflow definitely feels like an improvement over most other sharing mechanism. The makers of Minbox have focused on an interesting gap in the way today's sharing services work. By bridging the power of Dropbox with the convenience of e-mail, and throwing in an irresistible price point, they have created a product that definitely deserves a spot in your menu bar.


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