Send large files: 10 best services for sharing big files

Here are ten of our favorite services to share files too big for email

The kinds of documents we generate have outpaced the means to cope for some technologies. Pop back in time to the 1990s and you might have sent the odd Word document or image to a colleague. Maybe a decade ago you'd have fired the occasional MP3 someone's way (of your own recorded material, naturally).

Today though, even fairly basic documents might include many embedded images, taking them into the dozens of megabytes. And then there are movies, layered Photoshop documents, audio work files, and more.

Although there's no set maximum assigned globally regarding email, you'll often find providers, services and corporate servers bounce anything that's too big as a matter of course. 10MB is a fairly typical limit, which once would have seemed a staggering amount of data, but today doesn't exactly seem huge.

On that basis, you'll often find yourself needing to send something to a friend or colleague, and realising email just won't cut it.

For very specific types of files, you might resort to joining an appropriate service and sharing your work, at least if you often want to send it on to others, such as YouTube or Soundcloud.

Often, though, you just want to send a massive file on an ad-hoc basis. Fortunately, dozens of options exist, from cloud storage providers to one-to-one upload services. Here are some of the best…

1. Dropbox

Dropbox is so popular that we're wondering if people might soon refer to 'Dropboxing' for file-sharing/online storage in the same generic manner as 'Photoshopping' for image editing. You get 2GB for free and can share folders or links to specific files, such as archives. You can buy extra space, from $9.99 monthly for 100GB. Dropbox's widespread support (in terms of first-party and third-party apps) adds to its appeal.

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2. Box

Box echoes Dropbox in terms of sharing functionality, although its free option provides a whopping 10GB of storage. The caveat is 250MB file-size limits, which can be eradicated by paying. Paid plans also provide collaboration options (including email notification regarding downloads and commenting on files), but the free option's great for secure ad-hoc sharing.

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3. SugarSync

SugarSync is in some ways similar to Dropbox, although it enables you to back-up any folder to the cloud. From a sharing standpoint there are no size limitations beyond your account's size (60GB for the cheapest $7.49 per month option), and there are tools available for group collaboration and businesses.

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4. MediaFire

One of the more mature entries in terms of collaboration, MediaFire gives you 10GB of space for free, limiting transfers to 200MB. Paying $2.49 per month adds long-term storage, makes sharing ad-free, and gives you a FileDrop uploader for people to send content to your account. Document editing is also available.

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5. WeTransfer

We like WeTransfer a lot. The free version is ad-supported and gives you registration-free 2GB transfers as often as you like. Each upload stays live for seven days. But buy Plus (€120 annually) and you get 5GB optionally password-protected transfers, and 50GB of long-term storage. The company's breezy copywriting doesn't hurt either.

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6. Hightail

Originally YouSendIt, Hightail was one of the first companies that latched on to the 'fire huge files across the internet' thing, and it's grown rapidly since being founded in 2004. The free 'lite' plan - 50MB transfers, 2GB storage - looks a touch limited these days, but the company's longevity is reassuring, and its enterprise options will appeal to corporates.

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7. Adobe SendNow

If you're in the design industry, large files are a big part of life. Massive high-res images, audio, video, magazine PDFs, the works. Adobe offers SendNow for £14.65/$19.95 annually, and beyond straightforward sending, you also get file-tracking and a handy 'convert to PDF' option for your money.

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8. Egnyte

Most services for sending large documents are aimed at the widest possible market, but Egnyte has concentrated on the enterprise. Security, back-up, granular permissions and speed are central to the service, which starts at $8 per employee per month for between five and 24 employees. This plan includes 1TB of storage and comes with a 2.5GB maximum file size.

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9. MailBigFile

If we're honest, it was the name that first attracted us to this British company. That said, the usability of MailBigFile is also great, with a bold drop-well and handy time/upload indicators. Up to five files totalling 2GB can be sent for free, while pro accounts (£2.99 per month) up the limit to 4GB, speed up transfers, add storage and offer tracking.

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10. Mega

Founded by Kim Dotcom of Megaupload fame, Mega reportedly amassed 100,000 users within its first hour live. Despite initial issues with reliability and speed, the service remained popular, in part due to content encryption happening client-side. 50GB of storage is yours for free, while pro accounts start at €9.99 per month for 500GB of storage and 1TB of bandwidth.

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Bonus 11. Your local postal service

If you've a colossal amount of data you want to send to someone and a not entirely speedy web connection (or are a touch paranoid regarding government services and web interception), copy it to a USB stick and pop it in the post. With especially large files, even a couple of days via the likes of Royal Mail might work out quicker than uploading.

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