FileFlow Offers Service for Quick File Delivery

FRAMINGHAM (06/26/2000) - A Norwegian company has developed a new service designed to speed the delivery of large files across the Internet.

Announced this week, FileFlow's new FastSend service can compress just about any file type at a ratio of 20:1 to 50:1, making it easier to transmit files across the Internet. FileFlow can even encrypt files using 2,048-bit encryption. Because the technology is developed in Norway, FileFlow can export the encryption to any country; here in the U.S. the maximum encryption key length that can be exported is 128 bits.

FastSend works similar to Microsoft Corp.'s free e-mail service, Hotmail, says Nils-Johan Pedersen, president and CEO of FileFlow. Users sign on through a Web page and download a small browser plug-in or Java applet that handles the compression and encryption. Using the applet, a user selects which files or folders to compress and the recipients. A proprietary algorithm encrypts and sends files in pieces, making it more palatable for slow connections.

Compressed files are then stored on FileFlow's servers and an e-mail with links is sent to the intended recipient. Like sender, the recipient also has to download a small applet or plug-in to decompress the file once it is received.

"This can be used as kind of soft VPN for those companies that don't want to purchase expensive hardware solutions," Pedersen says.

The company is also offering a storage service called FastStore for those companies that want to store high-quality digital images. Pedersen says the system uses the same compression technology to shrink file sizes. One benefit of the service is that using the same file, users can view different size versions of the image and even switch between RGB, CMYK and other formats. This allows a company to store one image and use it in different formats.

One drawback to the FastStore service is that it uses what is called "lossy" compression, meaning some bits are lost in the process. Pedersen claims there is a mathematical loss, but it is not visible to the naked eye.

FileFlow, which has its U.S headquarters in Milford, Massachusetts, and is partially owned by Fast Search & Transfer, is initially targeting the service at media and advertising agencies, which tend to have large image files transferred between multiple locations.

FastSend is priced at US$99 to $250 a month, with a per-megabyte charge that varies in price depending on the monthly fee. For FastStore, the company charges a fee of $500 per month. Users can buy the software and host it themselves for $20,000 and up, Pedersen says.

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