Need to transfer something hefty to somebody over the internet, but don’t know how to send large files online? We’ve got your back. Large file transfers can be done in a few different ways, so we’ve put together this guide to cover the simplest, most effective, and most secure methods.
No matter what you’re trying to send, the techniques listed below will help you get the job done without paying a dime. Here’s how to send large files for free.
Compress files before sending
Regardless of how you choose to send your file, making it smaller will only help in terms of storage. File compression will not only shrink whatever you’re trying to send, but it’ll make the transfer go faster regardless of which method you’re using — be it email, FTP, or cloud storage. The same goes for smartphone users too.
Most computers come with file compression utilities built in, so making a ZIP file only takes a few clicks. Here’s how it’s done.
If you’re transferring music or video, we suggest using RAR compression instead of ZIP because it uses a better compression algorithm that generally cuts down on data loss and file corruption. We recommend using 7-Zip for this, as the open-source file archivist is one of the best currently available.
Upload to a Cloud storage service
The best, and most popular, option for transferring large files is to upload them to an online storage service where your desired recipient can download them. Thanks to the rise of cloud computing, there are a zillion of these types of services, so we’ve taken the time to pick out some of the best ones for you.
Below you’ll find a quick list of our current favorites, all of which offer plenty of storage space, security, and sharing features. We won’t get into specifics on how to use each program, but will instead provide quick descriptions to help you find a service that suits your needs.
Google Drive offers up to 15GB of free storage and allows you to share large files, such as pictures and video, in just a few clicks. It even has backup and syncing options, which are useful features to have.
If you’ve already got a Gmail account, you can’t beat the simplicity of Drive, as it’s effectively built right into the email service. You can “attach” files to emails that are stored on your drive account in order to share them just by clicking the Google Drive logo in the email composition window.
Upgrading to the paid version of Drive nets you 100GB of storage for $2 per month or a full terabyte of storage — that’s 1,000GB — for $10. There’s also a 10TB option for $100 a month and larger packages beyond that if you plan to share a lot of big files.
Most often compared to Google Drive, Dropbox is another great cloud storage option that offers 2GB of free storage space and a variety of sharing options. The basic suite of features is more or less the same as Google Drive, but Dropbox also offers a mobile app for non-Android and iOS devices, such as the Kindle Fire.
You can expand your own storage options in a few interesting ways, but premium accounts are also available. For $10 a month, you get a Plus account with a terabyte of space, while $20 a month gives you a few advanced features, along with advanced sharing controls, including the ability to set passwords and create expiring links.
Microsoft’s OneDrive service has seen significant upgrades and renovation over the years, making it one of the more competitive solutions for storing files and folders online. With its shared folder system, you can share anything you want at any time and stop doing so at the click of a button when you’re done. A free package nets you 5 gigabytes of free storage, while $2 a month bumps that to 50GB. The $7 -a-month package increases that to a terabyte and gives you the cheapest avenue to increase your daily file-sharing limit. If you’re subscribed to Office 365, you also can enjoy 1TB of OneDrive storage for free as part of your plan.
Box has a little more of a business-slant than some of the other offerings in this section. While that doesn’t mean it lacks features applicable to individuals, to access its file and folder-sharing features, you will need to buy into a Business account, which requires a minimum of three users. Each will cost $15 a month. It also has a free storage offering and affordable packages.
Files and folders shared over those accounts can be password protected, so that’s a useful security feature that makes Box a great choice for those concerned about the privacy and security of their data.
MediaFire offers 50GB of free storage and boasts incredibly simple sharing tools. There is, however, a 20GB max upload size with the free plan, but large files can still be uploaded with no issues. You can also land a 1TB for $3.75 a month.
At this point, we’re basically just giving you a laundry list of different options that perform the same service. WeTransfer is free and it allows users to send files up to 2GB without even registering their name or email address, along with a host of other features.
For those who don’t mind spending a little to get a little more, WeTransfer also offers a $12-a-month “Plus” package that lets you send up to 20GB at a time and store up to 100GB on its servers. It also enables password protection on shared folders.
Use the File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
As cloud storage becomes more popular, old-school methods like FTP — the File Transfer Protocol — have largely fallen out of favor and only make headlines when hackers mess with them. But if you don’t want to compress your files before you send them, FTP is still your best bet. This protocol is designed for large file transfers, and all you need to start using it is a proper FTP client.
FTP is a relatively lengthy process, and it’s far more complicated than simply uploading your files to a cloud storage service, but it’s still a reliable method of moving large files for free. For a guide on exactly what FTP is and how to use it, check out our in-depth tutorial.
Cyberduck is a free and open-source FTP client for MacOS and Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10. It boasts a great interface and plenty of advanced features. Supported protocols include FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Amazon S3, and more.
FileZilla is capable of running on Mac, Linux, or any version of Windows from 7 to 10. As with most Linux-compatible software, FileZilla is completely free, open source, and supports a wide range of transfer protocols.
It seems like everyone is using Google Chrome as their browser of choice these days, so it’s a no-brainer to include Chrome extension sFTP Client in our list. With this extension, you don’t have to bother downloading and installing a file transfer client; transfers can be completed quickly and easily within the browser itself.