When we just had dial-up internet, sending large files was taboo. It was inconceivable to email even a 1MB file, as it would take hours to upload and download. Today, fast internet connections allow us to transfer multiple gigabytes. These are the best free services to send large files.
Upload speed < Download speed
Before we prepare to send large files, we need to be aware that even with the fastest aDSL or vDSL connection, the upload rate is much, much lower than the download rate.
A 15Mbps line with a 1Mbps upload will download a 1GB file in about nine minutes, at full speed. However, uploading the same 1GB file will take fifteen times longer, or two hours and fifteen minutes.
So, no matter what service we will select to send large files, our connection's upload speed will dictate how long it will take. In any case, we need to be patient, because large file transfers can take from hours to days.
WeTransfer: 2GB - 20GB
WeTransfer is one of the most simple and convenient services to send large files by email.
WeTransfer allows us to send files up to 2GB, without having to create an account. We can also initiate as many transfers as we want.
Additionally, we can send every file to up to 20 recipients, who will receive a link by email to download it. This link will last for seven days.
WeTransfer also allows us to create a direct link, instead of an email, that we can copy-paste to share on a chat or a text message.
The service is supported by large format ads that cover most of the page's background. All we have seen so far are in excellent taste and seem more like art than an advertisement.
If we need to send larger files than 2GB, we can sign up to WeTransfer Plus, which will cost us $10 a month, paid yearly.
The premium service raises the limit to 20GB, without an expiration date for the download link. We can also password-protect transfers, have a personalized http://pcsteps.wetransfer.com address, and store up to 100GB on our account.
Google Drive: 15GB - 5TB
The best thing about Google Drive, apart from the free 15GB of storage, is that we automatically get a Drive account with any other Google service, such as Gmail or Google+.
Also, if we are using Gmail, we can send large files with Google Drive right from Gmail's interface. If an attachment is larger than 25MB, Gmail will automatically use Google Drive.
Until 2014, we could send large files using Google Drive with a limit of 10GB per file. However, now the service allows up files up to 5TB.
Of course, to send a 5TB file we need to have a paid Google Drive plan. For the free accounts, the maximum file size depends on our account's available space. With an empty account, we can send a file up to 15GB.
The File sizes page mentions some other limits for Documents, Spreadsheets, etc. These limits are only for Google Docs documents. Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files that we haven't converted to Google Docs belong in the "Other files" section, with the 5TB limit.
Another good thing about Google Drive is that the shared URLs won't expire. The files will be available as long as we keep them on our Drive account, or until we cancel the share.
Microsoft OneDrive: 10GB
Microsoft's cloud storage offers the same benefits as Google Drive for all of us who use an Outlook.com email. This also includes hotmail.com, windowslive.com, live.com, and msn.com accounts.
With any Microsoft account, we get 15GB on OneDrive.
As with the Gmail/Drive combination, if we try to send an attachment larger than 25MB, Outlook.com will suggest using OneDrive.
The difference with Google Drive is that the maximum file size is 10GB, regardless if we have the free or the paid plan.
Even so, 10GB is more than enough, with a 1Mbps upload it will take more than 24 hours of continuous upload to send this volume of data.
Using another Cloud storage service
The above solutions to send large files are the most convenient, since we don't need to create an account with WeTransfer, and most of us already have a Google and a Microsoft account.
If however we are already using another cloud storage service, in many cases we can create links to share the file with someone else.
In Dropbox, for example, we just need to right-click on a file and select "Share link...". We can share this link with anyone, even if they don't have a Dropbox account.
We can do something similar with many cloud storage services although there are also some services that don't allow any file sharing.
Which is your preferred method to send large files?
Are you using WeTransfer, Google Drive or OneDrive to send large files? Do you prefer another cloud storage service, and why? Leave us a comment.