Sending and receiving large files can be a problem if you have a slower Internet connection or the files are larger than what your email provider allows. Luckily there are several free ways to get large files to people quickly.
Using Email to Send Large Files
Depending on the size of the file, you may still be able to send it by email. You should check with your email provider for their size limit first. For example, Gmail and Yahoo have a file attachment size limit of 25 MB whereas it's 10 MB for Hotmail.
File Compression Software
One way you can send large files through email is with file compression software such as the 7-Zip. This is free software that allows you to "pack" a file or files into a compressed folder, thereby making transmission via email, or upload/download, possible. It also can make transmission of files faster. Most computer operating systems have extraction software as part of their standard utility package and can open a zipped file once you receive it.
Another option that allows you to use email is a splitting software program. This software "splits" files into smaller components so you can attach them to an email. GSplit is a free software that allows you to split files as large as 4 GB. The recipient will need the free GUnite software on their end to piece the components together. You can use GSplit with email as well as storage sites like Dropbox and social media sites like Facebook Messenger.
Using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Software
FTP software is another way to move large files to another person but it requires they have a server and their login information available for you to do so. With FTP software you enter their server host address, login and password, and sometimes a port number, and you will see a split screen with your computer's hard drive and their server's folders and files. All you need to do is drag your file over to their server and wait for it to finish uploading. Likewise you can drag a file or folder from their server to your computer. Some popular free FTP software options are:
- Cyberduck which comes bundled with many operating systems.
- FireFTP which can be downloaded and used with the Firefox browser.
- FileZilla is free open-source software you can install on your computer.
Using a Cloud Storage Service to Send Large Files
A file storage service uses "the cloud" to store files that can be accessed from any web browser. Some services have a mobile app as well. Many of these services require a fee, but several have tiered plans with a basic free service that can handle a significant amount of data.
Google provides anyone with a free Google account a drive that can hold 15 GB of data. You are limited to using their share function to 10 GB but most people will need well under that amount. The beauty of the Google Drive is it's accessible across all of Google's services like their email and Google Docs. To send someone a file or folder is easy, just right click on the file in your Google Drive and select Share or Get Shareable link to email a link that anyone can view or you can restrict it to certain emails.
If you use Microsoft Office 365 software or have a Windows computer, OneDrive is a feature that comes included. The free version allows you to store on the cloud up to 5 GB of space, or 1 TB for Office 365 users, and you can pay for additional room if you need it. You can use OneDrive to email a file to anyone, even if they don't use the software. All you need to do is right click on a file and choose "Share a OneDrive Link" in the drop down menu. In your email body, right-click and paste the link that's created for you and the receiver will be able to click on it and download your file.
This popular storage solution allows you to have 2 GB of storage for free. You can upload and download files from your Dropbox and by right clicking on a file or folder, choose Share and then choose either to copy and paste the URL into an email or enter a recipient's email address and have it shared directly from Dropbox. A user can download the file from the link and they do not have to have an account. You can also use the Send with Transfer option which provides you with a link for downloading to copy into an email. Dropbox is available through your browser and there are also apps for iOS and Android devices.
Similar to Dropbox, MediaFire has a free level of service where users can share links for downloading to people through an email or post on social media. You can have 10 GB for free and files can be as large as 4 GB. A nice feature of MediaFire is the ability to create One-Time Links that expire after a user downloads the file. This keeps people from sharing it if it's a private file or paid document. MediaFire can be used with your browser and there are also apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Apple TV.
HighTail was formerly known as YouSendIt. There is a free level of service that allows you 2 GB of storage space and you can send files up to 100 MB. With HighTail, the links you send will expire after seven days which can be a good feature if you have private or time-sensitive material. Files are shared through entering the recipient's email address into your account rather than pasting a link in an email. HighTail can be used on a browser and has an iOS and Android mobile app. You can also sync files to a Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive.
Jumpshare is another storage service with tiered pricing plans. The free version gives you 2 GB of space with a 250 MB file upload limit. You can also use the service do screenshots and screen recordings. You can log on to their site with an account to send files or use their iOS and Android apps.
Using a File Transfer Service
A file transfer service does not provide you with storage but simply allows you to send large files.
pCloud Transfer is a free service that lets you send files up to 5 GB for free. It also doesn't require you to sign up for an account. The site has a drag and drop interface where you drag your files and then fill out a simple form with your recipient's email and a short message. You can send files to up to 10 people at once and your message has a limit of 500 characters.
This service allows you to send files up to 20 GB for free. You have to use the site's simple interface where you drag and drop files into the site and enter the recipient's email. You can write a message as well and choose to set an expiration date and a password. You can also ask to be notified when the file is downloaded and allow the recipient to share the file, or not. The free version of the plan sets all files to expire after five days and recipients can only download a file up to five times. Storage is not included as well and ads will be present for you and the recipient. You will also need to create an account to use the service.
Fans of the Mozilla Firefox browser can use their online file sending service, Firefox Send. You can send files up to 2.5 GB if you sign in and create an account, or up to 1 GB without an account. The site has a simple drag and drop interface and you can choose to limit downloads up to 100 and expiration from 5 minutes to 7 days. Password protection is also an option. The site will provide you with a link that you can copy into an email.
Files to Friends
You can send files up to 1 GB for free with Files to Friends. The site does not require a sign in to use the free version. Just drag and drop your files to upload, enter the receiver's email and type a short message. You can send to up to five people at once.
My Air Bridge
My Air Bridge has a number of plans, including a free version that allows you to transfer files up to 20 GB. Files are stored for three days after which they expire. Files are sent from their site and you need to create an account to use the service.
Volafile is an interesting free service where files are transferred via a chat room. You create an account and then create a room. You then upload files to the chat room and share a link to it. The file limit is 20 GB and files will expire after two days.
WeTransfer was one of the first large file services, started back in 2009. The service is free and requires you to set up an account. You can send up to 2 GB by logging into the website.
Using Facebook to Send Files
Another option to send large files is by using the Facebook Messenger service. You and your recipient will need to have a Facebook account and allow a connection via Messenger. It does not require you to be friends on Facebook but only to agree to sharing messages. There is a maximum file size of 25 MB. Sending files is simple, just send a message and click on the paperclip symbol to attach a file and send. You can also attach a file in a post on Facebook on your timeline or a Facebook group or page.
Sending Files for Free Online
There are lots of options for sending large files online. You can choose whether you'd like to have an additional storage service or to just be able to send files. And if you choose to have a higher level of service, most options include plans for a fee with more features for storage and file transfers.