Files Forever

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Files Forever


In October 2006, Dreamhost introduced its Files Forever feature. Files Forever provides a method for Dreamhost control panel account holders to upload and then pay a one time fee to store files (currently in beta, the final price for storage has not been settled on, but it will be based on file size with a minimum charge of 1c per file).

Any files you store you may then re-download as much as you'd like, loan to a friend for THEM to download as much as they'd like (until you retrieve it from them), give as a gift to anyone (i.e. you pay the one-time storage fee so THEY can own it forever), and/or SELL online for whatever price you'd like (DreamHost handles the credit card processing).

Here is a quick FAQ:

Can I search to see what other people have put up on File Forever?

Not yet, but we definitely plan to offer this feature, as well as a "marketplace", file tagging, popular files, related files, files your "friends" have, etc..

How do loans work?

We tried to make this match properly loaning a physical CD, especially a copyrighted CD as it would typically be loaned by a library: just like this real world example, you can only lend a file to one friend at a time, and you can only loan files you aren't borrowing yourself, as doing otherwise probably wouldn't be cool with the original owner!

You can "loan" a file to a friend either from the DreamHost web panel, or from the permanent URL to your file (something of the form You just supply their email address, and it sends them an email letting them know you've loaned them the file. It also creates a new permanent URL for the loaned file. When they visit this URL, they'll be able to download the file (over and over again), until you "retrieve" it from them (which you can also do from the panel or the permanent URL you have). Once retrieved, that new "loaned" URL will still work for your friend, but it won't allow re-downloading unless they decide to buy their own permanent copy, or you loan it to them again.

Note, your friends cannot loan a copy of your file to their friends without buying their own copy first. They actually can "loan" it, but the copy your friends friends get will already be retrieved, so for them to actually download it they'd need to buy their own copy.

Can I share my music, movie or TV show collection? How about software?

Probably not! This material is usually copyrighted by someone, and odds are good that they do not allow 3rd parties (such as yourself) to distribute it. If you've received permission from them and can document this, it's probably okay, but unless that is the case you may be engaging in copyright infringement (which may result in account disablement). So, please, always make sure to get permission from the copyright holder before you distribute their material.

Do you keep a register of people who've downloaded my files?

Yes, we keep records of all transactions: uploads, loans, sales, gifts, etc..

Can I see it?

Currently, you can only see it if money is involved. We will be adding a mailing list tie-in allowing you to send an announcement to anybody who's bought files from you.

How is the "pay once, download forever" model implemented?

To download a file, customers must provide their email address and a password to be used as their account for future purposes and for re-authenticating them in the future to re-download files. Also, when you loan a file to someone, an account is automatically created for them if they aren't already in the system, and a random password is assigned (and emailed to them along with the note about the file you just shared with them).

Payment: after taking your cut, how would you pay me (since I'm not a US citizen and don't use PayPal)?

Getting paid out works just like our current affiliate system.. you are paid out once per month via PayPal.

Can I change the price of an item (e.g. to match inflation)?

Yes, from the web panel.

How can I make certain items available/visible only to friends?

From the web panel you can set the "visibility" of all files to be either: Public: anybody can visits the URL of the file can see it. Friends: Only your "Friends" will see the file when they visit that URL. Me: Only YOU will see the file when you visit that URL. Hidden: Not even YOU can see the file.. the closest thing to deleting in files forever.

What do you mean by friends? Do I create/add to a register somewhere?

Anybody you've ever loaned, gifted, or offered (you can also just ask people if they're interested in buying a file without paying for it yourself or loaning it to them) a file to is considered your "friend" for now. In the future you will add an ability to view and remove email addresses from this list.

Are there screenshots of the system?

Not now, but here's a sample file for sale you can try out now!

Do people need to register to download the files?

Yes, although "registration" is just entering their email address and a password. People need to register because anytime you download a file you are then allowed to re-download it forever, and there has to be a way to track who has downloaded what files.

What will happen to my files if my hosting plan is suspended or canceled?

They will stay up forever and you will still be able to manage them as though you had an active hosting plan. However, you won't be able to upload any new files without an active hosting plan.

If someone buys a file from me, how many people can they share it with or give them the URL to access it?

Everytime somebody buys a file, it gives them a new URL of the form "" just for them. In fact, that link won't work unless the user is logged in. We also track downloads to look for anything that looks like possible account sharing.

Any user may "loan" any file to one person at a time. When loaned, that new user gets a new unique URL that works only while the file is loaned to them. They may not re-loan the file out to others without first buying their own full copy of the file, and if the original purchaser retrieves the file back from them they can no longer download it without buying their own as well.

Is there a way I can limit who can download it and for how long?

If you make a file publicly available for download, anybody can download it (after paying!) until you change it to not be public. At that point, only those who already downloaded the file will be able to re-download it (at their own unique URL), forever. They can still loan the file to friends too.

Can I remove files from "Files Forever"?

No.. it wouldn't be "Forever" then, would it! :) You can however, stop making a file public so no further new downloads will be allowed.

Can I refund somebody's money if they're unhappy with their purchase?

Yes, although currently to do this you have to contact support (there's no automated way to do it from our panel yet). When you refund the money, we'll take away their ability to permanently re-download the file forever, and you'll lose the money credited to your account. You will still be charged the $.50 portion of the transaction fee, but you won't be liable for the 5% portion.

What happens if somebody charges back their credit card for a file they bought from me?

This works pretty much the same way as if you decided to refund their money yourself. We'll automatically remove the money from your account, take away their ability to re-download the appropriate files, and you'll only be out the $.50 portion of the transaction fee.

How do I edit the file information and price ?

This is all controlled on the Files Forever/My Files section - Just click the little wrench logo under the file name. There you can set the cost/viewing status/edit description.

Can we use files we've already uploaded as "Files Forever" files, or would we have to re-upload it entirely ?

From the Files Forever info page in the panel: "Click a button and we copy the files from your regular web hosting account into our PERMANENT ONLINE FILE ARCHIVE."

Does the Files Forever server support the entire HTTP/1.1 protocol?

The Dreamhost team had to make some hacks to their usual Apache server in order to serve large files efficiently while still checking cookies, so some features (for instance HEAD requests and Range headers) are not supported. Since people are usually just downloading from the link via a web browser, however, this is unlikely to come up most of the time.

Unanswered questions

Please put any more questions here!

O: Can we get a "pay what it's worth to you" (PWIWTY) feature? I.E. Have a file that people can either download for free or pay as little or as much as they want? (a.k.a. the Radiohead album release model)

Q: Can I get an automated email every time someone buys/downloads one of my files?

Q: Can Files Forever be used in conjunction with a Zen Cart instance to sell files easily... or is it a nightmare... or impossible?

Q: So help me understand this (I may be a little dense on this one point), do I pay to upload the file, then I or someone who buys the file pays to download? Or do I pay nothing to "upload" but only to download for me or others?

Q: Can I skin the appearance of "Files Forever"?

Q: Is there anyway to use the amount earned from F.Forever to make payment to own account dues before cash out to Paypal?

Q: Can we upload files organized into folders or do they have to be files only?

Q: Is there a way to include directory names that have spaces in them, i.e., /home/username/"My Directory"/"My Sub Directory".

Q: Can the file scanning process be tweaked to include a sub-folder option? If I have a couple thousand files that are scattered across a couple hundred directories, I would hate to have to restart the scan for every individual sub-folder!

Q: Can Files Forever be manipulated via folder? If I have a dozen files in a directory, it would be nice to be able to download the whole directory at once rather than download each song individually.

Q: How are multiple downloads handled, eg. one price for multiple products? Does the buyer get, one email, one download link or do they get an email for each product/file?

Q: If I upload a file that's less than 1 GB, can I upload additional files up to the 1 GB limit for free? Or do I have to pay the $2.50 for each file regardless?

Q: Is it possible to update a file (i.e., to fix an encoding error or typo), or would I have to hide the old one and create a new file?

Q: For inexpensive files under a few dollars, the ā€œ5% + 50cā€ fee is too steep. A 99-cent item would mean a 55-cent fee. PayPal recently instituted an optional micropayments schedule which is 5% + $.05. The break-even point vs their regular fees (2.9% + $.30) is at a $12 item price:

Maybe DH would consider an alternative rate for selling small-ticket items?

Q: Can you retrieve a file in more than one way, ie am I able to offer somebody the ability to stream a video file whenever they want, or only download a file and workout how to deal with it themselves, as offering sreaming of a particular file forever would be useful.

Q: How secure is "Files Forever"? Can it be used to store data backups of confidential information? Are there any encryption options?

Q: Is it possible to obtain shipping information with Files Forever if there is an item to be shipped to the customer along with the digital download?

Q: What happens if a huge file (copyrights owned by me) becomes extremely popular and consumes gazilions of bytes a month. Would you suspend access to the file?

Q: Will you offer a forever storage solution with lower rates than "Files Forever" but with only a few downloads per month (for example, to use as a dump point for offsite backups)?

Q: What's the advantage of using FilesForever over regular hosting plans? It looks like, for 500GB of files, it's about the same price as buying 20 years of hosting at today's lowest Dreamhost price, $714/10yrs. I realize "Forever">20, but still, why is this a better deal than the more unlimited use of the same files available with regular hosting?

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