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Zip It

Every so often someone complains about not being able to send a file across the Internet to someone else who really needs it. Some firewall, spam blocker or other dumb blankety-blank security device that is trying to stop hackers blocks the file.

But, hey, you're not a hacker and the file needs to go where it needs to go.

An almost always fool-proof way to pass files is simply to change the file extension (.doc, .rtf, .docx or whatever) to ‘.zip’. If you do this a Windows machine will give you an ominous warning, "If you change a file name extension, the file might become unusable. Are you sure you want to change it?"  The file WILL become unusable, but if you tell the person on the receiving end to simply change that file extension back to the original (and you have to let them know what that is), you will probably accomplish your task unencumbered. Blocking mechanisms tend to ignore .zip.

In normal-speak here’s an example:  Say you want to send a file named myniceprogram.exe. Executable files like the .exe extension cause firewalls to shudder in fear and clamp up tight. Rename that file and away you go sending it off.  You tell your friend receiving the file to change it back to .exe and that’s that.

Another way to go about it:  If you have access to a web server online you can upload the file there and then send the web address to the person needing the file. Just for fun let's say you have uploaded the file to this place on the web:

In their browser they'll be asked if the file is to be opened or saved. Saved is the answer. Once saved, the file will be available for renaming from .zip to .exe - the new name would be myniceprogram.exe. and now your friend can use it.

Or attach the file named .zip to an email and if the email program allows attached files (that aren't too huge) away it will go with filled with grace.

Yes, it is getting harder to move files around the Internet as the hacking generally becomes more intense but there are tricks to use to make it easier and without having to become a complete geek, like some people I know. I wish us all good luck.

Other, more complicated hints:

If you don't already know how to zip or compress files you might find that being able to actually shrink file size and have them zipped is a GREAT tool. Not only does it create a smaller file to send it packages it as an actual .zip file. I won't go into detail about file compression, tools, how to use them, but you can start by Googling around.

(Pssst) If you remember the name "gzip" and follow that hint while Googling you may be able to equip yourself, for free, with the necessary tool to actually, officially compress files and send a shrunken file across the Internet-void without problems, more quickly.

(Double Pssst) If you place the gzip.exe program icon on your desktop all you have to do is drag and drop files to that icon and zzzap, your files are compressed and ready to go. You'll find the compressed file with a .gz file extension bearing your original file name in the same folder that you got the uncrompressed file from.

That .gz file will pass across the Internet just like a .zip file does. Only thing is, your recipient will need software to unzip the file. Lots of people already have that capacity. Otherwise you might suggest [pssst] that they also think about adding the gzip program to their computer toolbox.