Peer to Peer
Share photos with others without uploading to the Internet
If you've read the other sections about sharing your photos, you've realized that there are a lot of ways to use the Internet and web sites to post your digital photographs.
Peer to peer sharing is a very different way of sharing your photos. It still requires an Internet connection, but typically involves less work.
What Does Peer to Peer Mean?
Peer to peer means that instead of sharing your digital photographs with the world (which would be the case with a public web page) you only share photos with a pre-determined list of friends and family: your "peers".
You create an address book of contacts, like you would if you were using an e-mail program. After you have moved your digital photos off of your camera and onto your computer, you can select which ones you want to share. Select the photos, select the recipients, and click "share". Each recipient is notified that you have shared photos with them.
The Benefits of Peer to Peer
There are several benefits of using a peer to peer sharing system, including privacy and ease-of-use.
The most obvious benefit for those who are privacy-minded is that you are only sharing the photos you want to share with people that you know.
Many online photo sharing services offer password protection for photos that you don't want to share with everyone, but the photos are still available on the Internet. Since peer to peer sharing programs just send files from computer to computer, there is less chance that some stranger on the Internet will discover your old high school yearbook photo.
Ease of Use
Peer to peer software programs all talk about how easy they are to use. If you have always had a hard time using e-mail to send photos, and can't fathom trying to use an Internet service, then peer to peer is ideal for you.
You download the software to your computer. You add photos to your collection and organize them as you see fit. You create a list of people you'd like to share photos with. Select the photos, select the recipients. Done.
The simplicity of this system makes it easy if you don't want to spend a lot of time uploading your files to a web site, or reducing their size so that you can e-mail them. The software takes care of everything.
The Drawbacks of Peer to Peer
And you thought I was just going to talk about how wonderful the peer to peer system works. Not today.
Your Peers Need The Software
This is the first catch of peer to peer photo sharing. It works most efficiently when the people you are sharing photos with ALSO have the software. This means that if you want to easily share photos with your grandparents, they will need to have enough computer know-how to download and install the software.
Some peer to peer services also create a web page with your photographs, for people who don't have the software. This is not a whole lot different from uploading your photos to an Internet gallery. The upload method may be easier, but the mechanism is the same.
An Open Computer Connection
Using a peer to peer system to share photos with others is like opening a window into your computer files. Some peer to peer softare literally lets you share everything with your contacts: music, files and photos.
While I have not read about any research that indicates any security risk of using peer to peer systems, it makes me nervous. Any time you have an open connection from your computer to another computer, it invites a hacker to try to figure out how to break in.
Some of the peer to peer systems are clear about their privacy and security settings, so make sure you read the fine print before you choose peer to peer for your photo sharing needs.
Peer To Peer Software
This is a list of some of the more prominent peer to peer options available to you today.