If you’ve just recorded a home video or created the ultimate mix tape – a digital version of that old chestnut, of course – no doubt you’ll be eager to share it with your friends and family.
Depending on the size and number of files you need to send, this can be a problem. For instance Gmail only allows you to attach files of up to 25MB in total to email messages. Not to mention the fact that large files will quickly eat into your storage space quota while lurking in your Sent folder!
If you need to send big files online, there are plenty of good ways to do so without running into trouble – and we’ve highlighted 10 of the best here, the vast majority of which are free (though they tend to have premium tiers if you want to pay for an improved service).
One of the easiest solutions to the problem of sending large files is to use file compression software such as the cross-platform program 7-Zip. This is particularly handy if you have multiple files, as you can place these in one folder and compress them all in one go.
7-Zip is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, and can compress files to the regular ZIP format as well as its own slightly more efficient 7ZIP. Most major operating systems can extract ZIP files without any additional software.
7-Zip also lets you set a password to protect the files, so you can share them safely.
Sign up for this cloud storage service and any files moved into your Dropbox folder can be shared through use of a web link. Some operating systems let you do this by right clicking, for others you may need to log into the site and click the Share link.
Most importantly, the person to whom you send the link doesn’t need to be a Dropbox user – they can simply download files from the site.
Dropbox has a free tier which gives you 2GB of storage space, but you can earn more by referring friends to use the service – or increase the limit to 1TB by signing up to Dropbox Pro for $9.99 per month (around £8, AU$13). The latter also allows you much greater control of files, including versioning, and you can set a password for downloads.
Although Gmail messages can only have attachments up to 25MB in size, when files are too large Google gives you the option to place them in your Google Drive and send a link to share.
Gmail users can share files and folders up to 10GB in size. Considering that Google’s free tier gives you 15GB of storage, you can repeatedly share large files entirely free of charge (assuming you delete, rinse and repeat).
Google allows you to choose whether to create a link that can be shared with anyone, or one which is only available to people to whom you send the email with the link.
While FTP (File Transfer Protocol) may be fairly old-school when compared with cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive, it’s still one of the most reliable ways to upload and download files.
All operating systems support FTP and there are plenty of websites and add-ons which support uploading and downloading from within your browser, such as FireFTP. Windows and Mac users can also make use of the free desktop FTP client Cyberduck.
The only downside to this is that you need to have access to a server. Many companies like DriveHQ offer some free storage space, and prices can compare very favourably with cloud storage providers.
True to its name, MediaFire is a trailblazer. Register for a free account and you get 10GB of storage. Connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts, install the mobile app, and refer friends to earn up to 40GB of bonus space.
You can upload files either directly from your computer or the web, and generate a link which will allow others to download your files from the MediaFire website.
Paid subscriptions begin from $3.75 a month (around £3, AU$5) and include 1TB of storage space, a hefty 20GB limit on file sizes, as well as eliminating annoying Captchas and ads.
Another handy premium feature is one-time links which make sure that once your recipient downloads your files, they’re no longer accessible.
Hightail (formerly YouSendIt) has been made with business users in mind. Upon registration you can create special ‘spaces’ for various files and projects, which you can then share with others. The handy ‘PipPoints’ feature can even be used to record notes on documents as you and others work on them.
The free Lite version of Hightail only allows sharing of files up to 250MB in size. The Pro subscription is available from $12 a month (around £9.50, AU$16) and includes unlimited workspaces and support for files of up to 25GB. There’s also no limit on the number of people who can access a file at any given time.
WeTransfer is one of the simplest services to use for sharing large files. A few clicks of the mouse and the website will automatically send files for you, and these will be available to download for seven days. Everything is very user-friendly, too, with a step-by-step wizard to walk you through the upload process.
For $12 a month (around £9.50, AU$16) or $120 (around £95, AU$160) per year you can upgrade to WeTransfer Plus which allows up to 20GB of file transfers at a time, and 100GB of storage. You will also have the option to set a password to download files – plus you can customise backgrounds and emails if you wish.
Formerly BitTorrent Sync, this handy utility uses the BitTorrent protocol – designed specifically for sharing big files – to sync files directly between your devices. This peer-to-peer connection can be used for two or more devices, such as a phone and desktop PC.
Resilio Sync also supports generating secure links to allow your contacts to download files from your folders. This naturally means your device has to be online at the time in order for them to access it.
The software itself is provided free of charge and there are no limits on how much data you can transfer or store.
Send & Track lets you use the Adobe website or Acrobat Reader app to share large files with multiple recipients, whatever device you’re using (be that phone or PC).
The website doesn’t mention any limit on the number or size of files you can send, but the service isn’t free and will set you back $20 per year (around £16, AU$27). There are also restrictions on what files can be sent – for example, 7-Zip archives aren’t allowed.
One of the most useful features here is the tracking, whereby you can see clearly whether a document has been opened or not.
Mega allows you to hit the ground running. You can drag-and-drop a file onto the website immediately so it’s uploading as you register your account.
The site was initially founded by Kim Dotcom, the man behind MegaUpload, and comes with a very generous free tier of 50GB. The service claims to use state-of-the-art encryption to keep your files safe and only available to those with whom you choose to share them.
There’s a Chrome/Firefox browser extension available which you can make use of – the company promises this speeds up performance and strengthens security. Desktop clients are available for all platforms and there are mobile apps for Android and iOS.