Tech Notes: Sending Large Files Over the Internet

This month’s tech blog post continues our discussion of computer tips and tricks that require just a few simple steps.  Today’s tip focuses on sending large amounts of files to someone else.  But first, let’s talk about the big limitation of how most of us send files to each other – through e-mail.

E-mail is a communication medium that’s been around quite a while.  Over 40 years to be exact.  Now, for many of us, we may have only been sending e-mails for about 20 of those years, since it was really in the 90’s that computers became affordable to have in the home.  However, one limitation of e-mail that I’m surprised has not improved is sending large files to someone.  My rule of thumb is to not exceed 10MB on any outgoing e-mail or else you risk the e-mail getting stuck in the Outbox and causing other e-mails not to send. 10MB, which seemed large back in the 90’s, is now considered very small.  This is equivalent to about 3 photos taken with a common smartphone.

Take, for instance, a situation where you want to send a large amount of photos to a friend.  If you send a few photos per e-mail, that usually goes fine, but too many photos in the e-mail and the e-mail gets stuck in our Outbox.  Many modern day e-mail clients will now warn you when a file is too big to e-mail.  I’ve resolved many situations for customers who had a large e-mail stuck in their Outbox, or had a large e-mail coming into them that couldn’t get through.  We usually say that their e-mail is clogged.  Think of it in terms of plumbing.  A clog will prevent anything else from transmitting through the pipe.

There is a service out there called WeTransfer ( that is free to use (for files up to 2GB in size), and you don’t even need to have an account with them.  You can use it anonymously without needing to login (which means one less password to keep up with).  How WeTransfer works is simple. Go to and choose “Take me to Free.” On the next screen, click on “I agree” and this will appear: 

1)    Add your files by clicking the Plus sign.  Add a few files, or even an entire folder of files if you wish.

2)    Put in the e-mail of the person you want to send them to.

3)    Put in your e-mail address (this way, you’ll get notified when your e-mail is delivered to the person in step 2)

4)    Type in a message (ie., Vacation Photos, etc.)

5)    Press Transfer

You’ll now see a progress indicator that will let you know when the e-mail is delivered.

Now, let’s look at it from the other side.

1)    Your friend receives an e-mail with a private link (a link is just a place on the web).

2)    When they click that link, they go to the WeTransfer website where they will then get the opportunity to download those files.

Think of WeTransfer like will-call at a ticket booth.  Because the e-mail is sending links to files (and not the actual files themselves), this bypasses the unusually small sending limit that e-mail hasn’t evolved from.

Of course, WeTransfer has a paid service that allows you to send up to 20GB files and also gives you features like password-protected downloads and other features.  I find that the free service will work for most instances.

Stay tuned next month for a Christmas-themed tech tip that will help you send out a digital holiday letter to your friends and family.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Chad Droze
Post & Computer Center – Freshfields Village

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