Large file transfer is a headache, but luckily, you have options. If you need to send something, but you’re not sure if you can do it for free, we’ve put together this guide that will help lift the load of this large file off your shoulders.
Best of all, you can do it free of charge. Here are some of the solutions you need to help get the job done.
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 no matter which method you choose—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.
|Find the file you want to compress||Find the file you want to compress|
|Right click on it and select Send to||Two-finger click/control+click on the file|
|Choose Compressed (zipped) folder||Select Compress … [file name]|
If you’re transferring music files or videos, 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 this 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 already have 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 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 2TB of storage—that’s 2,000GB—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 can get a Plus account with 2TB of space, while $16.58 a month gives you a 3TB of storage, and 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 100GB. 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 can also enjoy 1TB of OneDrive storage for free as part of your plan.
Box has 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 (at least at the Starter level), which requires a minimum of three users. Each will cost around $5 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 up to 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.
pCloud’s file transfer services are excellent and particularly well-suited for large file transfers. The service puts no limits on file size or file transfer speed, so you can move files as fast as your internet connection can handle, a useful feature for those who have a Gigabit network. The service also offers plenty of extra features, including the ability to share download and upload links, and complete security that includes five extra copies of your file on different servers to make sure it isn’t lost. The service does offer a free trial you can use for short-term sharing, but you’ll have to make a one-time payment or get a subscription to permanently unlock the service.
Masv is a file transfer service specifically designed for large video files, graphics files, and other demanding transfers that creative professionals need to make — if you work with files greater than 20GB, you’ll want to look into this service. Masv uses 160 servers around the world to push transfer speeds as high as possible, while still keeping things simple enough for all sorts of clients to understand. It is a priced service, but with a pay-as-you-go option that allows you to save as much as possible. You can also start with a free seven-day trial that offers 100GB of free data.
Alternative: 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.
There are FTP options these days that combine FTP transfer with security protocols, like SFTP and FTPS, so it’s safer for sending files. Many of these options are designed for business use, however, and have limited value for at-home users trying to transfer files. If you are a business, though, you may want to look into services like Sharefile or ExaVault that use secure FTP technologies for their solutions. Note that ExaVault does offer a free trial if you want to try out the service.
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.