cc-licensed photo by J. Star
For the 60×60 Buzz Compilation I was looking for a place where I could host pretty large files, and also host them without having to worry about bandwidth problems if it would end up getting downloaded a few thousand times. There are always a bunch of options but choosing Archive.org to host this project was definitely a good thing to do.
So what’s so good about it? How about starting with the things that are no so good, so we can keep the good news for last.
- The website doesn’t look fancy. If that’s what you are looking for you will be disappointing. No neat web 2.0 style gradients or shiny surfaces there. Just plain oldskool solid HTML. But look further for a way to fix that.
- If you’re not a geek, you might find it hard to manage your content. The easiest way IMO is uploading files using FTP. You can use the web interface for single files, or for smaller files, but you need to use FTP when your files are over 100 MB. There’s also a nice Creative Commons Publisher tool as an alternative to FTP that looks pretty easy to upload content with. I didn’t use it because I wanted more control over the uploading process (bandwidth throttling mainly).
And now, on to the good stuff!
- Free bandwidth. They host your files, and you don’t have to pay a cent for it.
- Free web space. You can upload a huge amount of files, with a huge size, and it’s all free free free.
- Embed your files on your own site or blog. So you can make it as fancy as you want, without spending a single byte on bandwidth. They even have a flash applet you can use. You can also link to the links they provide for streaming. No problem.
- After uploading a FLAC of WAV file, the system automatically encodes your files into a variety of commonly used audio formats such as mp3 and ogg, at several bit rates. That way, people with low bandwidth can choose to tune in to the 64kbps stream, or download only the lower bit rate versions. Others can opt for the high quality original FLAC file, but no matter what you don’t have to bother with doing these tedious conversions yourself. In case of video, we’re talking conversions to DivX, MPEG and QuickTime format. You can also opt not to do this, if you like.
- Feedback: people can leave comments, and apply a rating. You get an email when someone leaves a comment, so you don’t need to check yourself. But you probably will anyway. I do.
- Your downloads are counted. Stats!!! I love em.
- Artwork, CD covers, text, whatever you feel should be published as extras, it’s up to you.
- Work out your own concept. Want to publish a single file, an EP or a full blown album? No problem. You can even set up a net label .
- Your stuff is indexed in the archive.org search engine, making your findable not only on their own site, but it’s quickly indexed in Google as well. Oh, and probably in those other search engines as well, but who’s using those right?
- You content is updateable. Now this one is really handy. Whatever you put up there, you can update it afterwards, add new files, or delete files. Nothing is permanent, so whatever screw up is in there, it doesn’t have to be in there forever.
- Which brings us to the next point. It’s there forever! Well, that’s the idea behind the whole archive anyway. You put stuff up there for future generations, and they make sure it doesn’t get lost. Like a big internet library.
- The Internet Archive isn’t controlled by a commercial company either. It’s a non profit organisation working on donations, so you don’t have to fear that sudden policy changes will require you to cough up cash to keep your files hosted. You’re free to donate however, in case you have some money lying around.
Most of these above points also work for other formats such as video and even text, as they are quite flexible over at archive.org you know. But since I don’t have any experience with those, I focused on audio in this post.
As you can see, Archive.org has a lot more to offer than most other free file hosts. You have to own the content you publish of course, and be prepared to license it under a Creative Commons license. But then again, if you are thinking about publishing something on the internet, it makes sense to use some sort of CC license.