Do you have the occasional need to send very big files to someone else? Files that are too big to send in email? You can find dozens of online services that will help you do just that. All of the online file transfer services make it very easy to send and share large files that are generally too big to send by email. They do that by allowing you to upload your file to the company's servers and sending a link to a page where the file can then be retrieved by your recipient (or yourself if you are the recipient). As far as I know, they are all good services. I have never heard of a “bad” file transfer service; I believe they all are good enough to perform the basic file transfers. However, I have looked at several and recently settled on one that I think is better than most.
This year, I was invited to Christmas dinner at a relative's house. While there, I learned that another person at the dinner had a large collection of pictures taken at other family events in recent months. These weren't digital photos; they were all taken on film, and she had the prints with her. She said she would like to make duplicates of many of them to share with family members, but that will require time and money. Guess what? I had my Flip-Pal battery-powered portable scanner with me. I usually take it with me to all family gatherings.
I offered to scan the photos and send copies in email to all the family members who wanted them. That offer was accepted within a second or two!
Scanning the fifty or so 4-by-6-inch photographs was really fast—less than one minute per photograph. I ended up with all of them stored on the Flip-Pal's memory card, and the owner of the photographs took all the original photos home with her. She apparently was happy that the photos never left her sight.
I returned home that evening and copied all the scanned photos from the Flip-Pal's memory card to my computer’s hard drive and then created one large .ZIP file containing all the photos. Next I wanted to send them to each person who had asked for copies, including digital copies to the original photographer. There was but one problem: the .ZIP file was 157 megabytes, far too large to send as an attached file in an email message.
What to do? Simple: use one of the online services that help anyone send large files. In most cases, you send the file to the online service's servers. These services will store the file for a week or perhaps up to a month. The recipients receive an email notification that a new file is available for them, along with a link to click on to initiate the download.
The various "send large file" services work well for anyone using a broadband internet connection. However, I wouldn't recommend downloading 100-megabyte or larger files on a dial-up connection. You might be there for a week waiting for it to complete!
I looked at several such file transfer services and found that most of them are capable of sending files of 100 megabytes, and a few can send even larger files. However, I also found that several of them display advertising messages while you are uploading the file(s) or while the recipients are downloading files. A few of them are "in your face" with the advertising, requiring the user to click on some icon occasionally in order to continue the upload or download. That might meet the company's objectives to earn money from advertising, but it doesn't meet my needs very well.
Eventually, I settled on the appropriately-named TransferBigFiles.com service at http://www.transferbigfiles.com/. The company offers a free plan that allows users to send files of up to 100 megabytes in size. In fact, you don't even need to create an account to use the free service. Obviously, you do need to give your name and email address since that information is sent to the recipient(s), who certainly need to know who originated the file before they perform any downloads.
The downside is that the free plan from TransferBigFiles.com only allows for storing files for five days; then the files are erased. Of course, most recipients will download any desired files within five days; but if one recipient is on vacation and traveling without a computer, the five day limitation could be a problem. Of course, you can always upload the file a second time more than five days later, but that certainly would be an inconvenience.
If this arrangement is unacceptable to you, there are paid plans with much more generous allowances. The paid plans allow the uploader to specify how long files should be kept. By using a paid “Premium Account,” you can keep the files available for months, should you wish to do so. I typically specify thirty days unless there is some reason to use a different length of time. With the premium service, the uploader can change his or her mind at any time and change the maximum storage time of any file already uploaded.
On the receiving end, the free service allows each file to be retrieved by recipients up to 20 times while Premium Accounts allow up to 1000 retrievals per file.
I have used TransferBigFiles.com several times in the past to send files of 100 megabytes or less. It always worked well for me. However, this Christmas I ended up with a .ZIP file of 157 megabytes to send to several people. I suppose I could have broken the file up into smaller pieces. However, I elected to switch to the paid plan of TransferBigFiles.com that allows for much, much bigger files.
I signed up for the "Escape Pod" package that allows for transfer of files that are two gigabytes (2,000 megabytes) or less. While each file is limited to two gigabytes, TransferBigFiles.com's Premium Accounts allow the user to upload multiple files. The $5-a-month plan allows for a total of five gigabytes of storage, and even more storage space is available for bigger fees. Discounts are available if you pay for twelve months in advance.
You can learn more about the various plans available at https://www.transferbigfiles.com/accountplans.
I uploaded the 157-megabyte file, and TransferBigFiles.com asked for the email address of each individual to receive the file. It also asked me to enter a message to be sent to each recipient. Once the file upload completed, TransferBigFiles.com sent a message to each recipient saying, "A file has been sent to you! You have been sent one or more files through the TransferBIGFiles.com service. If you were not expecting to receive any files, please use caution before downloading anything to your computer." Following this message was a link to download the file from TransferBigFiles.com's servers, followed lastly by the personal message I had written.
When each recipient reads the email message, he or she will see the above combined message plus a link. Clicking on that link will initiate a download of the file.
TransferBigFiles.com strikes me as the ideal online service: simple to use, doesn't "get in your face," and performs the task at hand without any hassle. The basic service is available free of charge with higher capacities available for reasonable fees.
TransferBigFiles.com also offers some advanced features not available in all competitive services. First of all, it works from any web browser on a Windows or Macintosh system. Next, you may optionally choose from a free Macintosh app, Windows app, or iPhone app that provides even simpler interfaces to the application. Power users, whether they prefer Mac or Windows, can have a dedicated "always-on" application to fire off any files they need. However, the special apps are not required; you can use TransferBigFiles.com from any web browser, if you prefer. The special apps simply add a bit of convenience.
TransferBigFiles.com even allows for transferring files to an iPhone or iPad although I wouldn't try that on a 100+ megabyte file!
You can also copy-and-paste HTML code to your own web site that allows others to upload or download files that you control.
Another feature that some services ignore is the security of encryption. All files transferred by TransferBigFiles.com are encrypted with SSL encryption during file transfers for your security. However, files are not automatically encrypted when stored on TransferBigFiles.com's servers. In theory, someone else could find your files. However, with the long, cryptic file names used, the odds of someone finding your file accidentally or even with the use of a search engine are remote. Still, if I ever want to send a file containing sensitive information, I will encrypt it before sending it. I don't have much need for secrecy for files containing family photographs, so I haven't yet used encryption with TransferBigFiles.com. However, it is an option should I need it.
I plan on keeping the paid version of TransferBigFiles.com. I probably won't use it often; but, when I do need a file transfer service, this one should fill the bill nicely.
You can learn more about TransferBigFiles.com at http://www.TransferBigFiles.com.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others. Tweet it, share it on Google+, Facebook or on your preferred social network.
Republishing of this article in newsletters, blogs, and elsewhere is allowed and encouraged, with a few minor restrictions. Details may be found at http://goo.gl/hoHH1.
Of course, if you haven’t done so already, you should join my email newsletter mailing list to stay current on my latest articles and announcements. You can also cancel at any time within seconds. I promise to never, ever send you any unrequested e-mail, other than newsletter updates.