Whether you’re trying to send a promotional video to a client or a home tape to a family member, transferring large files can be a headache without the right tools. Trying to send a bunch of videos through an email account is far from ideal. Given that email providers like Google only allow you to attach files up to 25MB, you need an alternative.
Here is a list of the 11 best ways to transfer large files:
- Upload your files to cloud storage
- Compress the files
- Use a VPN
- USB Flash Drive
- Courier a Hard Drive
- Send Anywhere
The best ways to transfer large files
1. Upload your files to cloud storage
Uploading files to cloud storage is a great way to transfer large files. Popular cloud service providers like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive offer mountains of storage. Each of these products is accessible with more than enough space to cover most file types.
These solutions are cost-effective so that you don’t have to pay a premium to be able to store and access your files in the cloud. For example, Google Drive is free for your first 15 GB of storage. Similarly, Dropbox is free for less than 2GB of storage. Though you can also upgrade to the Professional version for $19.99 (£16.19) with up to 2 TB worth of space.
Dropbox is an excellent choice out of the three because it has a desktop application and mobile application that allows you to upload files no matter what size they are. If you upload these files to the Dropbox website then you’ll have to stay below a limit of 50GB.
The user interface on the desktop application is also very user-friendly, all you need to do is right-click the Share button on the file you want to send and then enter the email of the person you want to share the file with.
2. Compress the Files
Another tried and tested method of transferring files is to compress them. Compressing the files reduces the amount of space that is needed to store them. The process of creating a zip file is simple on Windows.
All you need to do is create a folder and place all of the files you want to transfer into it. After you’ve created the folder you can right-click on it and select Send to > Compressed (Zipped folder). The files are ready to be sent.
It is important to note that file compression is ineffective for JPEG and MP3 files because they’ve already been compressed! To process the files you can use free compression software such as 7-Zip, Express Zip and WinZip.
3. Use a VPN
Using a VPN or Virtual Private Network is a useful technique for transferring files because it allows you to avoid broadband traffic management restrictions placed by your internet service provider (ISP). Many ISPs control upload bandwidth to restrict the size of files that you can upload.
A VPN is used to encrypt your traffic and keep your online activities confidential. When using a VPN an ISP can’t identify the contents of your web traffic. For file transfers, this means that the ISP can’t recognize the size of the files and impose any limits on you.
Sending files through a VPN isn’t without its issues. The connection will likely slow down substantially and the files won’t necessarily arrive intact. So if quality is a large concern, it is advisable to try an alternative tool.
4. USB flash drive
USB flash drives are an excellent alternative if you need to transfer files to a friend or colleague. USB flash drives range in size from 2 GB to 1 TB giving you more than enough space to upload even the densest content. Of course, if you decide to use a USB flash drive you will have to make sure that you don’t misplace it!
With a flash drive transferring files is extremely easy because all you need to do is insert the drive into your computer’s USB ports. Once the computer recognizes the drive you can drag-and-drop the files you want into it.
After that, you can eject the draft and take it to another device or individual. While there’s a little more legwork required with this method, it’s very easy to do. If you want simplicity and reliability then this one is a good choice.
FTP or File transfer protocol is an old school way to transfer files. FTP is a TCP/IP protocol that transfers files between FTP servers and clients. FTP was designed specifically for transferring large files. All you need to do to start using the protocol is an FTP client.
The good thing about FTP is that what it lacks in security it makes up for with its file management capabilities. There’s no restriction on the size of single transfers, you can queue transfers, schedule future transfers, and send multiple files at once. The advantages of FTP make it one of the more efficient ways to send files back and forth.
There are many free FTP clients online like FileZilla and Xlight. The only problem with FTP is that it is not secure. Usernames and passwords are transferred in plain text so an attacker can read the contents of files. To protect against attackers use FTP for non-confidential data.
Secure File Transfer Protocol or SFTP is the secure variant of FTP. The protocol enables the user to transfer files through Secure Shell (SSH). SSH serves to prevent unauthorized users from viewing passwords and other information through encryption while files are in transit.
To transfer a file the server must authenticate the client user and verify the channel is secure. The inbuilt security features of SFTP make it ideal for sending sensitive data in an enterprise environment.
Most FTP servers include SFTP transfers by default. Reliable free SFTP servers include SolarWinds SFTP/ SCP Server, FileZilla, and Syncplify.me Server. SFTP is also advantageous when compared to FTPS because it doesn’t require lots of open ports to function (open ports are potential entry points into your network).
However, SFTP is a little less convenient than some other measures on this list because you have to install an SFTP server and configure it. So if you want simplicity you’re better off with a cloud storage solution. In addition, if regulatory compliance is a concern then the lack of user activity logs can cause problems.
File Transfer Protocol Secure or FTPS is another secure version of FTP. FTPS is secured over Secure Sockets Layer or SSL (also known as TLS) which encrypts connections. With this protocol, file transfers can be authenticated through passwords, client certificates, and server certificates. FTPS authenticates connections with a user ID and password or certificate and verifies the certificate of the server you’re connecting to.
The main advantage of FTPS is that its encryption makes it a safe way to send confidential information. It also has the strength of being compliant with most regulatory frameworks. FTPS transfers are PCI DSS, SOX, HIPAA, and HITECH compliant. It is important to note that FTPS isn’t without its vulnerabilities.
Every time a file transfer is made a port will be opened, which could be an entry point for an attacker. As a consequence, many firewalls make it difficult to use FTPS connections. Not all FTP servers support FTPS but there are many products that do. Syncplify.me, SolarWinds FTP Voyager, and FileZilla all support FTPS.
There are many free and paid online services that enable you to upload large files and Jumpshare is one of the most popular. Jumpshare allows you to send up to 250 MB of files for free and record them as shareable links. Whoever has the link can then access the file content.
If you compare this with the 25 MB limit of most email services, there is a substantial difference. These tools are also very user-friendly. For example, in Jumpshare you can drag-and-drop the files that you want to share to the menu bar icon. Then a link will be copied to your clipboard.
Using Jumpshare is a good idea if you want the convenience of transferring files online without the need to use any more technical “workarounds.” All you need to do to begin is sign up online on the vendor website.
9. Courier a Hard Drive
If you have lots of large files to send then filling up a hard drive and sending it off with a courier is an effective way to transfer files. Physically sending a large volume of files via a courier is often much faster than attempting to upload those files through a broadband connection.
Shipping hard drives can raise some concerns in terms of damage and theft. If you make the decision to send your hard drive via a courier you have to make sure that it is packaged correctly so that it won’t get damaged in transit.
10. Send Anywhere
Send Anywhere is a file-sharing application that allows you to send files with a 6-digit key from your device to any destination you desire. You can create a link to access files so that other individuals can access your shared files in any location. Files also have an expiration time so that the files will become unavailable after a specific time period. Send Anywhere has a 10 GB file size limit. The application supports a range of operating systems including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Kindle, and Outlook Add-In.
If you require more firepower, you can purchase Send Anywhere PLUS, which will give you a server to work with. Send Anywhere PLUS is faster with a 100 MB/s transfer speed and uploads at up to 50 GB at once. The paid version is also very affordable at $5.99 (£4.85) per month.
Finally, we have WeTransfer. WeTransfer is a free online file sharing solution that requires no registration. All you need to do to use it is go onto the website, add your file, enter the destination email address, your email address, and a message. The free version enables you to transfer up to 2GB worth of files.
You can also upgrade to WeTransfer Plus which supports 20 GB of file transfers at once and up to 100Gb storage total for $12 (£9.72) a month. You can also protect your files with a password and customize the emails you send. The large file transfer limit should cover most enterprise users sufficiently.
The fact that you don’t need to signup or download anything makes WeTransfer a top pick if you want to transfer a file. So if you want to share files without any hassle then you can’t go wrong here.
Transfer Large Files How You Want!
No matter how many large files you need to send there is a medium out there to help. The file transfer solution you use can be as complicated or as simple as you want. Don’t get trapped by file limits imposed by your email provider! Pick a storage solution that can accommodate the bandwidth of files you need to transfer (and a VPN if your ISP is capping your uploads).
If you’re more old school then purchasing a flash drive will give you an efficient means to transfer your data. But if you want something you can access from anywhere, then a cloud storage solution like Google Drive or Dropbox is probably a better fit.
If you’re more technically minded and want to manage a high volume of file transfers then downloading an FTP server might be worth it for low priority files (make sure to use FTPS or SFTP for secure file transfers if you go this route!).