How to Send Large Files for Free

Comparison of free file-sharing solutions

Cloud Computing

Dong Wenjie/Getty Images

Sooner or later, everyone runs into this problem: You must share a huge file or a bunch of large files with someone ASAP, but you've hit the attachment size limit imposed by your email provider. Before you arrive at this point, check out the types of services you can use to share or send large files.

As of May 2019, Gmail restricts attachments to 25MB. When you attempt to send anything larger, Gmail automatically sends a link to the file in Google Drive instead.

Fastest Solution: Online File Syncing and Storage Services

Dropbox for Mac Desktop
Dropbox for Mac showing Dropbox folder and Dropbox menu item. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Using a cloud storage and syncing service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. can save a lot of time because you don't have to manually upload the file or files you want to share. With these syncing tools installed, any file you work on that you save to the sync folder on your computer is stored to the cloud automatically. To share the file, just log in to the website, click on the file, and choose to share it with the email addresses you select. The recipients will get a link to the file and can then download it.

As an alternative, these services typically have public folders where anything you put in them is readily available to anyone with a link to the folder or to anyone searching the web. You can save or drag-and-drop files to these public folders and then just copy and paste the link in an email to your recipients. Just make sure anything you put there isn't sensitive or private.

Even with these services, however, you can exceed your file storage limit. For example, Dropbox gives you just 20GB of free storage and the free SugarSync account gives you 5GB. If you don't have enough space to store the file you want to send or don't want to clutter your online storage space with this temporary need, there are a few other solutions.

Easy One-Time Transfers: Dedicated File-Sharing Web Apps

Hightail file-sharing screen

For simple, one-time sharing of large files, look to a service designed specifically for this purpose. Among these is Hightail (formerly YouSendIt.com), which allows you to quickly upload and generate a link to documents, pictures, videos, or music. Hightail Lite is free and allows files of up to 100MB each. Paid options offer more capacity.

Services like this are numerous; they vary in speed, simplicity, feature set, and storage capacity. Some, such as Ge.tt, don't require you to create an account or log in to share your files via a link. A free, anonymous account comes with 250MB of storage. It's dead simple to use: Press a button to add a file to share, and then copy the link the site provides.

Ge.tt file-sharing service

Others, such as MediaFire, are designed as online storage spaces where you can host files up to 10GB for free. Some restrictions on free accounts apply, such as the number of times each file can be downloaded.

Before using one of these one-time services, make sure the features meet your needs. For example, encryption and password protection are essential for many uses; you might also need to know when the file has been picked up.

Most file-sharing services offer business-friendly features such as password protection and return receipts for extra fees.

Other Options

You can send large files in other ways, too. For example, you can save files to a USB thumb drive and shuttle it over to your friend or colleague. If you have a website and web server, you could put that large file on your FTP server for the recipient to pick up. These solutions lack the convenience of dedicated online services, however.