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What is LIFTS?


LIFTS is the Large Internet File Transfer System.

It's a web service that makes it simple to send large files to other people over the web.

LIFTS is open source and built on standard open source technologies.

What problem does LIFTS solve?

People need to send large files, and right now there are several ways they go about doing this, each having their own disadvanatages:

  • Email Attachments
    • Often unpredictably limited in size, based on the sender and recipients' clients, servers, proxies, mail filters, etc.
    • Significantly increases load on the email servers.
    • Bloats email backups, especially on internally-sent attachments.
  • 3rd-party sharing services (Dropbox, e.g.)
    • Can be expensive for large data sizes.
    • Can't be linked to internal corporate logins.
    • Involves a 3rd party, which may be a security/trust risk.
  • FTP
    • Old fashioned, not very user-friendly.
    • Account setup for recipients can be cumbersome.
    • Requires multiple steps (upload file, figure out URL, send email, etc).
  • CMS applications (Sharepoint, Drupal, e.g.)
    • Can be cumbersome to work with.
    • Involves multiple steps.

My goal with LIFTS is to make sending files as painless as possible, and nearly as fast (from a user standpoint) as an email attachment.

  • The user need only fill out a simple upload form
  • The recipient need only click a download link
  • The files are automatically cleaned up after a set period of time
  • The download location can be easily password-protected

How does LIFTS work?

What senders see

  • Senders log in using their company login credentials (LDAP, Active Directory, eDirectory, etc).
  • Senders specify a file, and a list of recipients.
    • They can optionally configure a set of login credentials and/or a message to include for recipients.
  • Senders click send.

What LIFTS does

  • LIFTS uploads the file and copies it to a unique download location.
    • If login credentials were configured, LIFTS secures the download directory with the configured credentials.
  • LIFTS emails the recipients the URL where they can download the file.
    • If configured, LIFTS includes the optional message and/or credentials.
    • LIFTS uses the sender's email and name as discovered in the LDAP directory.
    • LIFTS CC's the sender automatically.
  • After a specified length of time, LIFTS deletes the file from the server automatically.

What recipients see

  • Recipients get an email containing:
    • the name and email of the person sending the file
    • a download URL for the file
    • some basic instructions for downloading
    • (if configured) a set of login credentials and/or a message from the sender.

Recipients then have until the configured deletion date to download the file.

What are LIFTS requirements?


Clients merely need to have a reasonably standards-compliant web browser and E-mail.

Senders will need a login on the configured directory.


LIFTS needs the following:

  • Linux, BSD, or unix-like server OS
  • Sendmail or compatible MTA (built in to most Linux distributions)
  • Apache 2 web server
  • Python 2.7, 3.0 or higher
    • flask
    • python-ldap (python 2.7) or python-ldap3 (python 3.x)
  • An LDAP-compatible authentication source (Active Directory, eDirectory, etc)

How can I get LIFTS?

LIFTS is open-source software licensed under the GPLv3. If you're a technical kind of person who can work with Linux commands, Apache configurations, LDAP settings, and so forth, you can download the source from github and set it up yourself.

If those terms are gobbledegook to you and would really like your own LIFTS server, CONTACT ME and let's talk about how you can have a LIFTS server configured for your organization.

Created: 2015-02-17 Tue 22:30

Emacs 24.4.1 (Org mode 8.2.10)