5 Secure Online Services To Transfer Large Files To People

As email services stubbornly cling to their Web 1.0 25MB attachment size limits, users meanwhile are needing ways to transfer larger and larger files.

Of course, if security is not an issue, there is always cloud storage or leaving files temporarily on your web domain. But if you need a secure way to transfer files across the Interwebs, you need something a bit safer.

The following are five secure file transfer options, which
are also free.

WeTransfer

As usual, we start with my favourite which was recommended to me two years ago. I love WeTransfer not only for its utter simplicity but also because of the fast uploading and downloading speed. I love things which “just work” and WeTransfer is always zippy and kicking butt.

There is a free option and a paid option. The free option
allows file transfers of up to 2GB without the need to register for an account.
Just upload the file, then add your own email and personalized message.

You can either send the download link by email or be given a
unique encrypted link for copying and pasting in chat messages for example.

The paid pro plan ($12 a month or $120 a year) offers a few
more features such as 20GB file transfers, 100GB file storage space, passwords
and expiry dates on your file transfers, and even set up and design your own
WeTransfer page and URL. But unless you are transferring large video and audio
files, your files are never likely to exceed 2GB. So the paid plan will
suffice.

Firefox Send

Firefox Send is another one I have been experimenting with lately. Brought to you by the same people who do the popular web browser, Firefox Send gives WeTransfer a serious run for its money. Plus it obviously benefits from the higher name recognition.

Firefox Send ups the ante on WeTransfer by making file
transfers 1GB without registration and 2.5GB if you register a free account.
Once the person at the other end downloads the file, the link automatically
expires so you don’t have to worry about links being passed around and your
documents being re-downloaded. But if you use a Firefox account to send 2.5GB,
you can keep those links active for up to a week and share the link with more
people.

Files can be password-protected free of charge and once the
file is uploaded, you are given your encrypted link.

RiseUp

Compared to the others, RiseUp does not offer so much in the way of features. Plus the file size limit is capped at a measly 50MB. But I have used RiseUp in the past to great success and is handy for smaller files.

You just need to drag your file into the window and an
encrypted link will be generated which will last for one week. Or if the other
person has already told you they have the file, you can go in and delete the
file yourself right away.

RiseUp also has a pasted text section, similar to PasteBin. So you can copy and paste plain text into the site and have an encrypted link generated to send that text to another person.

Onionshare

I have previously talked about Onionshare, so I am not going to delve too deeply into it here. But I would be remiss not to include it in an article about file sharing apps.

Onionshare is starting to gain my affections because unlike the others, your file is not stored on any central server waiting for someone to download it. Instead, the other person needs the Tor Browser and when both are open, an encrypted connection is formed. Then the file goes from your computer to theirs automatically.

This is called Peer to Peer (p2p) and is probably the most
secure form of transfer there is.

An equivalent P2P platform is Resilio which I am about to try out.

Signal

I am going to end this article by mentioning my favorite chat program – Signal. Signal is an extremely secure messaging app – some say the most secure ever. So theoretically sending files over Signal would also be extremely secure and safe.

On the smartphone app, tap on the contact you want to send
the file to. Obviously this means they need the Signal app too. Then tap the
“+” icon on the left.

This will bring up a list of things that can be sent via
Signal. Tap on “Document” in this case.

Where you are taken next for your document will depend on
whether you are on iOS or Android. On iOS, it will be iCloud Drive so make sure
your file is there first then simply navigate to it on your phone. Signal will
then send it to your contact.

If you have an Android phone, I am not sure where your file
would need to be as I haven’t had an Android for eight years now. But I would
imagine whatever the default filing system is on your phone.

The Basics Of Creating Your First YouTube Channel

With the existence of the Internet, there has never been a
better time to be a video star. And when those videos of you start to stack up
and gain viral popularity, they need a home. So where better than your own
branded YouTube channel?

Making one is rather straightforward and totally free. Today
we’ll be taking a look at mine, showing you all of the different elements that
go into making a YouTube channel page.

Setting Up a Page For The First Time

When setting up a page for the first time, you need to be signed into your Google account on YouTube. When you have signed in, look to the top right and drop down the menu. Choose “Your Channel”.

You will now be asked what name you want the channel to be
under. This can be changed later if you want, so don’t worry if you get the
name wrong the first time around. The photo can also be changed in a moment as
well.

After entering the name of the channel, click “Create Channel”.

Above is what you will see next. Basically a barebones channel page which now needs to be built up. So click “Customize Channel” and let’s start tuning things to the way you want them.

Starting from the top and working down…..

Profile Photo

If you want to change the photo, hover it and a small pencil icon will come up. Click on it and click the blue edit button that comes up. The photo is the one on your Google account so you will be redirected to https://aboutme.google.com/u/1/#profile_photo where you can choose an already-existing photo or upload a new one.

Channel Art

This is the banner which appears at the top of the channel
page. For example, here is Stephen Colbert’s one.

At the top of your page, you will see the upload button for
yours.

This is the one thing that really irritates the hell out of
me because I can never get it right. The official size for channel art is 2560
x 1440 pixels, but you have got to get it to fit on the desktop view, YouTube
TV view, and mobile view. And it just doesn’t work very well for me. So this is
something you need to work on repeatedly until you get it right.

The best website for making channel art is Canva, where you can make templates to the exact measurements, and drag and drop artwork and text onto it.

Channel Description

Next is the channel description, which is very important to
get right for SEO reasons. This is how people will potentially find you,
especially if your channel will be about a niche subject. However, there is a
character limit so don’t go crazy and start writing like Leo Tolstoy or
anything.

Channel Settings

This is accessible via the small cog next to the red
subscribe button. Here you will find various settings which you can either
switch on or off depending on your preferences.

The only one I would personally change is the “Keep all my saved playlists private” (uncheck it). You will want your visitors to view your playlists as that is what keeps people binge-watching your videos.

Unless you know a foreign language, don’t touch the
“translate info” section.

Customize the layout of your channel” is an important one. This section allows you to :

  • Set
    the country your channel is based in.
  • Set
    the SEO keywords so people can find your channel.
  • Link
    your Adwords account to your YouTube channel to promote videos.
  • Link
    your Google Analytics account to your YouTube channel
  • Display
    or not display subscriber counts on your channel page.

If you now go to this page, you will see more features to enable or disable.

If it says “not enabled” or “ineligible” then it means you can’t use that feature right now. Even though the Monetization tab says “enabled”, you actually are not eligible until you have a minimum 1,000 subscribers and various other factors. If something you want is not yet offered, click on the “Learn More” link to find out what you need to do to qualify for it.

Uploads

Going back to the main channel page now, it’s time to look at how your videos will be presented when you start uploading them. So click on “Add a section” but bear in mind some of these sections will not actually appear on your page until you have videos uploaded.

You will get two menu boxes. The one on the left is for the
different types of content you can display on your page.

And the one on the right is for the type of positioning you
want the content to be in – either vertical or horizontal.

So on my channel page, this is what the playlists section looks like in horizontal view.

But if I was to flip it around to vertical view, it would now
look like this.

So you need to decide what looks good for your page.

Another good section to have is the introductory video for
non-subscribers and a video for people who are already subscribers. The
introductory video for non-subscribers could be just you saying hello briefly and
describing the benefits of the person subscribing to your channel. I instead
chose a self-made promotional video for my books.

Featured Channels

On the right-hand side, you can link to channels which you
feel might add some benefit to your visitors. Maybe channels similar to what
you talk about, ones you just personally enjoy, or channels belonging to your
work, friends, family, and so on.

On mine, I link to writing and book-related channels.

Now Upload Some Videos!

Your channel page will always really be a work-in-progress
with new album art being uploaded, the channel description constantly being
tweaked, and so on. So the next best piece of advice is just to start uploading
some videos! Pretty soon, your channel will fill up and the subscribers will
hopefully start pouring in!

How To Download Offline Google Maps For When You Have No Internet

I’m going to let you into a little secret which may
shock you. Not everywhere in the world has Internet coverage. I know, shocking
right? Sometimes when you are out in the armpit of beyond, admiring the sheep
and the cows, you look at your phone and realise with shock that your mobile
phone provider’s Internet doesn’t stretch that far.

This is why, when you are going on a journey, you need
to be prepared just like the Boy Scouts. For example, if you need a map then
you need to download it to your phone beforehand when you are still in Internet
Civilization.

With Google Maps, that process is very easy. Here is how to do it on an iPhone but the Android method is more or less the same. As far as I can see, you can’t do it on the desktop.

Download Your Google Maps For Offline Access

After logging into Google Maps, search for your
destination. For this article, I just entered “Berlin”.

Now tap the hamburger icon on the left-hand side.

This slides open a menu. What you are looking for is
“Offline Maps”. Tap on that.

This area gives you all of your saved offline maps. To
make a new one, click “Custom Map”.

A square will now appear over the area you just
searched for. Move the square around to get the area you want to download. But
depending on how large the area is, you may have to download more than one map.

Google Maps will show you how much space you have on
your phone, and how much space the map will take up when downloaded. When you
have the area you want, click “Download” at the bottom.

Choose whether you want to be notified when the
download is finished. If you are on a tight timetable to get out of the door on
your trip, you may want to switch this on.

You will now see your download starting. You can stop
the process at any time by clicking “Delete”. You can also name your map by
clicking the pencil icon next to the title at the top.

Assuming you have a decent Internet connection, the
map downloads are quite fast. However, you need to keep the Maps app open to
make it go as fast as possible.

If you close the Maps app, while it is downloading
your map, you will see this.

When the map has finished downloading, you will now
see it listed in your “Offline maps” section.

As you can see, the map doesn’t stick around forever.
It has an expiry date of one year. But when you tap on the map you just made,
you will see an “update” button. So if you are going to the same destination
every year, you can update the map and reset the expiry date to another year.

On the other hand, if you decide you are not going
there anymore, you can delete the map early by hitting the “Delete” button.

To use the map when you go offline, just open Google
Maps and use it as you normally would. However, because you won’t have the
Internet at that moment, the only part of the Maps app that will work will be
the part you previously downloaded.

4 Ways To Make Facebook Messenger a Standalone App

There’s a big misconception that if you want to use
Facebook Messenger, you must be signed into Facebook itself and access the chat
interface from the Facebook website or the mobile version. Nothing could be
further from the truth. In fact you don’t even need a Facebook account anymore
to use Messenger.

Even if you do have a Facebook account, it is
perfectly possible to use Messenger without going anywhere near facebook.com or
even having the Facebook smartphone app installed. I should know. I’ve had
Facebook uninstalled from my iPhone for months but I still use Messenger.

Use The Messenger Smartphone App

If you’re a heavy smartphone user, it makes sense in this case to just use the Messenger app for your phone. It is a very sleek, well-built app and I have had no issues with it whatsoever. It even has games on it where you can play basketball with a phone contact! The iPhone version is here and the Android version is here.

I particularly like “Dark Mode” as well as the
self-destructing messages (which I will be discussing in another article soon).

Use The Standalone Messenger Website

You may or may not know that Messenger actually has its own standalone website at messenger.com, made by Facebook themselves. Here you can log into your Messenger account and use it without going anywhere near your Facebook timeline or any other time-sucking distractions.

Being browser-based, you can set notifications in your
browser for new messages and generally it works and looks exactly the same way
as the smartphone app. The only difference is that there doesn’t seem to be any
dark mode, self-destructing messages, and a few other bells and whistles
normally offered on Messenger such as Facebook Stories.

However if all that doesn’t bother you, messenger.com
is an ideal solution if you want to monitor your messages without constantly
getting drawn into the Facebook timeline black hole.

Mac Users Can Use Messenger For Mac

Mac users have a really nice software possibility with a really original name – “Messenger for Mac”. This is NOT made by Facebook, as made clear by the website which states that it is a “free and open-source project made by fans of Messenger”. But I have used this on my Mac for a very long time and it works wonderfully.

Again there doesn’t seem to be any Dark Mode or other
features normally offered by Facebook Messenger. This is just a stripped down
bare-bones version of Messenger you can run on your Mac and have pinned to your
Dock. But not everybody wants the latest shiny object.

Use An All-In-One Solution

There used to be a time when you had individual chat
clients such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk…..then the
trend moved to combining those services into one platform, so we had Trillian,
Pidgin, Adium, and so on.

Even though a lot of these individual chat services have now shut down, we still have things like Messenger, Slack, Skype, Signal, Telegram, and so on. So the “next generation” of one-stop chat platforms might be what you need. Two which I have used and recommend are Franz and Rambox.

The downsides are that they only give you your
messages, nothing else (obviously you can reply too, but what I mean is don’t
expect any cute stickers or anything).

Second, there is no mobile phone version so these are
purely desktop only. But there are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it
is enormously helpful to have everything in the same place if all you need are
your messages.

How To Encrypt Your Windows Hard-Drive With VeraCrypt

In this final part of a three part series, we are now going to look at how to encrypt your Windows hard-drive using VeraCrypt. In part one, we showed how to make an ordinary encrypted folder and in part two, how to make a hidden folder within an encrypted folder.

But now we’re going to up the ante and encrypt the
hard-drive. After a few stiff drinks to build up the courage, it’s time to get
this show on the road.

How To Encrypt Your Windows Hard-Drive To Keep Out Snoopers

This is actually not too difficult to do. Just follow these steps in order and hopefully your computer won’t explode in your face. I’m assuming you already have VeraCrypt installed but if not, you can get it here.

First, open up VeraCrypt and click on “Create Volume”.

You will then see three options. We have already done the first two in previous articles. Today we are going for option number three – “Encrypt the system partition or entire system drive.

Click “Next” to proceed.

In this case, we are going for a normal encryption, not a “hidden operating system”. So choose the first option and click “Next” to move on.

I personally feel (although you may disagree) that you
only need to encrypt the part of the hard drive with the Windows operating
system on it.

Keeping it simple (which is always a mantra of mine),
I went for option one – “Encrypt the Windows system partition.” You may decide
to choose the second option but if you do, you will get lots of warnings about
the consequences if it all goes wrong.

If you only have Windows on your computer then you
have a single-boot system. If you have multiple operating systems (say Windows
and Linux for example) on your computer, then it’s a multi-boot system. So
choose which one you have.

It will now ask you which encryption option you want.
But as I have indicated in the previous articles, unless you have a particular
reason why, you should leave the encryption protocols on the defaults. This is
the AES standard used by governments to encrypt secret documents. Also leave
the hash-algorithm as it is.

Click “Next”.

After specifying your desired password, it is time to
generate your encryption keys. To make them as strong as possible, you need to
move your mouse or trackpad around the VeraCrypt window in a “random order”.

As you do so, the bar at the bottom will go from red
to yellow to finally green. When the green bar is fully at the far right-hand
end of the screen, click “Next”.

Since you are now encrypting a hard-drive (or part of
one), you need to take an extra cautionary step in case you lock yourself out
of your hard-drive. This is called the VeraCrypt Rescue Disk (VRD) which will
repair any damage to the VeraCrypt boot loader or to Windows, allowing you to
(hopefully) log in.

However, it is not
a security risk having this rescue disk as you will still need the encryption
password for it to work.

VeraCrypt will select an area for your rescue disk to
be placed once it is created. But you can easily move it to another location if
you want, by clicking the “Browse” button. Do NOT deselect “Skip Rescue Disk
verification” – that is essential.

Click “Next”.

This next step opens up the Windows Disc Image Burner.
You will see that the rescue disk is an ISO file and you need to choose the
disc burner on your hard-drive. A normal 700MB CD disc is sufficient. Select
“Verify disc after burning.”

Once the disc is in your burner drive, click “Burn” to
start the process.

When the process has been finished, the disc burner
will open its tray in the hard-drive. Close the tray again, let the disc run,
so Disc Image Burner can verify the disc to make sure everything worked OK.

Hopefully, you will eventually see this.

It’s now time for VeraCrypt to do some pre-testing
before it starts encrypting your hard-drive or partition (depending on what you
chose).

As the next screenshot says, your Windows system will
restart, the boot loader will be installed and assuming all went well, the
system will begin encrypting. Click “Test” to begin that process.

When the computer restarts – before Windows loads –
you will now see the following screen.

Enter your password in the space provided. You
probably didn’t specify a PIM in the password settings (I didn’t) so in that
case, leave it blank when it asks you for a PIM and hit enter.

Now wait for your system to log in. If it’s the first
time you’re doing this, the log in process might be slightly delayed.

Once your password has been successfully verified,
your system will begin encrypting. As you can see it takes a long time to encrypt
the system, depending on how big it is, so this might be one of those times
when you need to leave the computer on overnight in order for it to do its
thing.

Once it’s done, your computer is a lot more secure.
Now cackle with satisfaction when your nosy roommates futilely try to break
into your computer to read your love letters to your unrequited love.