It is safe to assume that everyone familiar with the usage of a computer system should have an idea of what file-sharing is about, according to Wikipedia, file-sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images, video), documents or electronic books. A huge percentage of computer users will agree to have at some time had the need to share files with their friends, colleagues or acquaintances that were too large to be sent over e-mails, especially in our present day and time where effective collaboration strives on sharing of information of various sizes and formats.
As a result of this, different file-sharing services/applications were created to enable people to share large files through the internet, store them in the cloud and synchronize them across multiple devices. When talking about file sharing applications, the most common example likely to come to mind is the Google Drive, then maybe Dropbox and One Drive, among others, with each having it's uniqueness and benefits in terms of security, storage capacity and privacy.
However, as we all know, whatever was enabled through the internet can be made better with the blockchain and this is where The Envelop app file sharing service comes to play. The Envelop app is a file-sharing service built on Stack Blockchain by Blockstack Decentralized Computing Network. What does all this even mean? Let me break it down.
Most of the file-sharing services we are familiar with have few things in common, they are centralized, they claim to have high security and offer users privacy, but really do they?
THE NEED FOR DIS-CENTRALIZATION
Ever since the inception of Computers, Tech companies had always found ways to monetize their products to users, people who needed computing resources had to pay for space on IBM's mainframe computers at that time, but as development went on, people began to assemble hardware components themselves. Microsoft became the go to supplier of the software needed to power the hardware's built. Users had to pay for software licenses.
After a while, another advancement emerged to replace the former system of paying for software, it offered users access to software infrastructures and applications for "free" with Tech companies like Google spearheading the development, offering cloud services such that it has become the "order of the day". From a personal perspective, 95% of my data rotates around one centralized company, Google, for other's, Apple.inc, how about your's?
Tech companies like Google and Facebook offer users these services for free but in exchange, users offer them their data, everyday, every second of usage, from our location on the face of the earth, to the last thought saved in our notes, and what do they do with it? Control it. According to a little research I did, it's been made evident that users are not in total control of their data as we've been made to think.
From 2016 when Yahoo! admitted to losing information for 500 million people, to today where Facebook allowed for the sale of 87 million users’ data to an external strategy firm, there have been numerous wake-up calls that users can’t trust large corporations to secure their data or to keep it private. Source.
Now let us imagine that Blockstack's Blockchain is Microsoft for a second, but not just Microsoft, decentralized Microsoft, where users have full access to Microsoft's applications, but as decentralized alternatives. Blockstack's blockchain is an open source platform that allows developers to build decentralized alternative computing applications that already exists on Microsoft. The Envelop app is one of the results of such infrastructures and is available on the web interface and as an android application that can be downloaded from The Google Playstore.
The Envelop app is powered by an infrastructure that puts users in control of their data, talk about privacy.
HOW TO USE
In all sincerity, if my grandmother was to be alive at this moment, she would testify to how easy it is to use the Envelop file-sharing service just to emphasize how simple the user interface is. On the web interface, every action needed to be done all begin with one click. 'Sign in'.
To have access to the applications built on Blockstack platform, you need to create an account i.e ID that links your email to the platform. This ID grants you access to all the service the platform offers.
After clicking the sign in button, a prompt appears asking you to select your ID, if you don't have one, it instantly creates one for you right there, as it did for me, in less than 4 steps that doesn't take you away from that page, till you're logged in.
To share a file, all you have to do is click on upload, select the file you want to share and watch the magic happen. Once the file is uploaded, click on "Copy link" which generates a link that contains the access to the files and can then be shared, the recipient receives the link, enters it into a browser and downloads the file. Simple and straightforward. Also, to delete, you can click on the file, an option will pop out to delete and once clicked, the file is gone.
For the Envelop mobile app..,
The steps are quite the same once the app has been downloaded and installed from the Google Play store. The only difference is that for the mobile app you have to sign in with the secret key sent to the email upon sign up.
PROS, CONS AND CONCLUSION
There is a new wave in the advancement of technology. It puts users in control of their data and ensures a higher level of privacy and security than the existing system. We are in the era of decentralization, and with ecosystems such as the Blockstack blockchain, we are beginning to see how users can truly be in control of their data and privacy even in services such as File-sharing, with Envelop app, users can share files seamlessly and totally privately.
During the usage of the app, I realized that I couldn't cancel an already sending file. Some people have very quick fingers, faster than the mind. So sometimes, a user can mistakenly upload a file and need to cancel it. For instance, there are two files with similar names in my document, one is 5mb, and the other is 20gig, if I intend to send just the 5mb file, but mistakenly clicked on the 20gig file, I can't cancel it. This can turn out to be rather unpleasant.
Also, I noticed that multiple files cannot be sent at once, each file has to be sent with a different link each time. For instance, I intend to send 5 files, I have to generate a link for each rather than have all 5 files under one link. Although this is not much of an issue, but if made better, could enhance user experience.
Welcome to the world of Decentralization. I hope you're gearing up yourself for the advanced future, will you like Envelop to be your choice for sharing files? Kindly let me know in the comment section.
Finally, Envelop app is completely free and contains no ads and for this I rate it a 5 star app.
Thanks for reading, all images are from my usage of the application. Others are duly specified.
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