Sharing Large Files Via Email

When it comes to sharing files, old-fashioned email remains a popular alternative — but what happens when the files get bigger? Lifehacker 101 examines your options.

Picture by loopygrl

It wasn't so long ago that most email providers enforced strict size limits on the size of email attachments and the total amount of email you could store. While those limits have greatly increased — Gmail, for instance, lets you attach files up to 25MB in size — there are good reasons not to use email to send files that large. If your recipient does still have a size limit, you'll cause all sorts of problems. And if you're using a less than optimal connection, the whole operation can easily time out before you get the attachment sent anyway.

For the geekier amongst us, there are plenty of ways to solve this problem (uploading via FTP to your own web server chief amongst them). But what if you're trying to explain the process to your barely-PC-literate cousin?

Lifehacker recently recommended Opera Unite as a way to share large files. While that's a pretty neat solution, it does require the sender to install extra software, a step that it's sometimes easier to skip.

Following that post, regular Lifehacker commenter Nikhil sent us this list of options for sharing files via email, all of which are potentially useful alternatives for sharing files. Most work on a similar model, either allowing you to upload a file from your browser and then providing a simple download link which you can email to anyone who wants to access it, or letting you email a file directly to a specified address. Thanks Nikhil! - web-based email 100MB, free - web-based email 300MB, free - web-based email 100MB, free – free 5GB online storage and each file gets a link which you can include in an email. - free simple 100MB file upload each file gets a link which you can include in an email

None of these options will eliminate the sometimes painful wait for files to send (upload speeds on most connections are a fraction of download speeds), but they do make the process easier.

What other solutions do you find useful for sharing large files, especially with non-technically-inclined friends and relatives? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker 101 is a weekly feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?


    I use mediafire. It is awesome. You can sort into folders, you can set individual files to private/public and unlike Rapidshare, Megaupload, etc. there is no fuss in downloading. I'm sure there are other advantages but I never use anything else so I wouldn't know.

      MediaFire, RapidShare and MegaUpload are banned websites in most Universities in Australia attached to AARNET (Australia's research and education network) so make sure that your recipients don't live/work at a Uni. is interesting in that its a java applet that you run at each end and the file transfer runs directly between the two PCs rather than waiting to upload it, or having your data stored on some server in the depths of the intertubes.

    Doesn't like some corporate firewalls though, but I suspect thats common with the others, too.

    split -b 10M
    then cat them all back together.

    I use Dropbox's Public folder to send files up to 350Mb. You just paste the link into your email...

    Try FilePhile, Free unlimited and easy enough for most.

    Another option is File Apartment (

    - Easy to use
    - No software to download
    - Up to 1 GB
    - Free option
    - Safe and secure
    - No registration required

    When you use the tools mentioned above, technically you are not sharing via email. You are in fact uploading your files to someone else's server and sending them a link. However, those wanting to send some real big files, should try out Binfer. It transfers files from computer to computer, without requiring you to upload them first. Pretty cool ...

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