Just Google “convert PDF to DXF” (or any two file formats you’d like to convert to and from) and you’ll be presented with many online file converters. These websites make fancy promises too – “Just upload your file and we’ll get your converted file back within 5 minutes! No need to install any software on your computer!” But wait – could something so good really be true? Before you go with an online solution, remember the risks that you may be exposing your files to…
First and foremost, can you trust the website? Online file converters require you to upload your file onto their server, and then download the converted file few minutes later. Unfortunately, this exposes you to the possibility of downloading viruses and trojans onto your computer or business server. Also, please be especially wary if the website asks for your email address. That opens you up to unwanted emails from their service! Worse yet, it’s hard to tell the good sites from the bad. It really can be a minefield.
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There’s a project management triangle that explains the constraints of any project – time, cost and quality. You can only pick two of these attributes, and it is not possible to optimize all three. If you choose a conversion process that’s fast and free/cheap, it’s likely that it’ll result in a file that’s not of very high quality. File converters also differ in the methods that they use. Raster-to-vector converters need to trace the image and turn it into vector objects. However, some online tools simply encode the image in simpler formats or make a lousy conversion.
This problem is even more apparent in raster-to-vector conversion, which is a technically difficult process. Good software can tell when to use arcs over Bezier curves, how to optimize the number of grab points, and so on. Poor file conversion software does not. Here’s an example of shoddy work produced by an online file converter.
Sure, all online converters boast high levels of safety and reliability. “Don’t worry, we’ll delete your files as soon as your conversion is finished.” Personally, I’d take such claims with a pinch of salt. The privacy issue is especially important if you’re working with sensitive and private design files. You can use these online converters if you can afford to have your file seen by others. At the very least, please make sure that the website does not store, retain or backup files on its server.
4. Large file sizes
Most online file converters don’t support large file sizes. The typical file size limit is around 50-100MB. There are also other service-level agreements (SLAs) that you have to adhere to when choosing these file conversion websites, such as number of files that you can convert through the service or number of conversion minutes each user can use per day. Since these services are mostly free, the developers must impose such conditions to keep their site up and running.
5. Features available
There are some features that are only available on premium software, such as batch conversions. If you had a large number of files that you wanted to convert all at once, it’d be a huge pain to upload them to an online converter one at a time. Other features that are scarcely available on online converters include optical character recognition, cleaning and editing tools, and support resources.
Online file converters seem like a convenient solution and I’m sure that there are decent ones on the Internet. However, for some projects, you’d require a industry-standard software like Scan2CAD to manage your file conversions. Scan2CAD is a market leading file conversion software. It also includes a complete raster and vector editing suite, with drawing tools, intelligent cleaning software and OCR. Check out all of Scan2CAD’s features here.