Like many people I know, I am completely unwilling to pay as much for storage space on Dropbox as I do for my internet, so a free app that has no file cap was a huge draw for me. I have used peer to peer torrents to share larger files with friends before, but an app that made it easier and more direct––not to mention mobile––sounded phenomenal in my book. Check out zeZebra.
zeZebra App Review
zeZebra was easy enough to use, I linked it to my Facebook profile and convinced some of my other friends to try it, too. This was the first issue I had with the app. Since convincing other people to use the app is necessary to its function, I couldn’t really see any difference between that and spamming referrals for extra space on Dropbox. It is not an open peer to peer network that packetizes files and can reconstruct them downloaded in any order, from any number like torrents. What zeZebra really does is broker a one on one connection for downloads. This also means that you cannot share a file to provide multiple people full access, like you can with Cloud storage like Google Drive and Dropbox.
I went back to using my Google Drive for most of my file transfer needs, clogged though it is by seven years of stored writings. Compared to zeZebra, using it was time-consuming and restrictive. That’s when I realized the downsides of Cloud storage. My files were getting lost in the noise of a hundred others, which prompted me to organize, sort, and otherwise manage my Drive. This was more than I wanted to do to share a simple file with my friend.
It also seemed to take longer to complete file transfers. As with most things, I found there was a reason for this. Since zeZebra essentially cuts out the middle man, transfers are approximately twice as fast. Instead of uploading to a server then downloading to a friend zeZebra was uploading the file directly to that friend, as fast as our respective internet connections would allow. I could give that song to my friend immediately with this app, in the middle of a conversation about it.
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Compared to the time-consuming process of doing the same thing with my Drive, it felt like simply handing a physical file for my friend to peruse. With Drive and other Cloud storage sharing media always seemed to stall and redirect the conversation we were having about a movie, song, or file as we huddled around a computer screen waiting for the upload. With zeZebra’s spartan interface and better mobile capabilities, it allowed us to keep doing what we were doing.
Then I realized I could use zeZebra to transfer whole folders of .pdf’s at a time from my computer to my iPhone, even use the ‘Open with another App’ feature of zeZebra to move them all into my iBook reader, and it sealed the deal for me. zeZebra has its limitations in scope due to the nature of its peer to peer connections, but it was so streamlined and easy that it forced me to reconsider. Though Cloud storage is still the answer for a lot of things that zeZebra can’t do well, zeZebra is a reminder that there are better ways to do some things that many people––including myself––had resigned to use the Cloud for the rest of their lives.