Picture this. You’ve just finished editing a video or recording a podcast and you want to share the file with someone.
Email is probably your first port of call, but providers are very strict when it comes to attachment size limits. It’s just 20Mb on Outlook or 25Mb on Gmail and Yahoo. That won’t cut it for large files – even a few full-res photos will take you over that mark.
Then there’s messaging apps, but the situation is only slightly better here. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Signal all won’t let you send files larger than 100Mb.
So, what should you do? Here are four easy ways to safely and securely move a file from File Explorer to someone else’s computer. We’re using Windows 11 for the purposes of this tutorial, but all the following methods also work on Windows 10.
Tip: Connect to a VPN first
A VPN certainly isn’t necessary for sharing large files, but it could significantly improve the experience. That’s because some internet providers may limit bandwidth during uploads, slowing down the transfer of files.
When you use a VPN, the type of files you’re uploading can’t be detected, meaning no limitations will be put on speeds. However, do be aware that some VPNs still affect connection speeds slightly.
See our best VPN chart for some great options, with NordVPN currently top of the list.
Zip and unzip
In an ideal world, you’d want to continue using your preferred email provider or messaging app. Zipping files lets you do that, compressing them down to a fraction of their original size. After downloading it, the recipient then just needs to extract the files and they’ll work just like normal.
To zip files in Windows:
- Open File Explorer and select all the files you’d like to send
- Right-click and choose ‘Compress to ZIP file’. Depending on the total size of the files, this may take a while
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
- Once complete, a new folder with a zip icon will be created. Give it a name of your choosing and hit enter
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
- Send to the recipient, attaching it in the same way you would any other file
However, this won’t work for all files. As you can see from the screenshot below, the zipped file is still almost 300Mb – far too big for emails. In that situation, you’ll need to look at alternatives.
Use a third-party website
Fortunately, there are lots of websites which let you send large files for free. WeTransfer is the most popular, although you’ll have to pay $120/€120 for anything more than 2GB (up to 200GB).
FileTransfer.io has a more generous 6GB maximum, while Send Anywhere and Smash have no limits at all.
Use a cloud storage service
If you already have an account with a cloud storage service, it makes sense to use it to send large files.
Provided you have the spare capacity to upload it, there’s no limit on the size of files which can be shared via Google Drive or OneDrive. They can be shared with specific users, or you can create a unique link to share with anyone you’d like to be able to access it.
The latter is also available via Dropbox, although you can’t send files bigger than 100GB unless you purchase an add-on. Stil, this will be plenty for most people.
If you regularly send large files to friends and family, it might be time to reconsider which messaging app you use. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Signal are all very limited in this regard, but Telegram is the exception.
The latter lets you upload and send files up to 2GB in size, plus store them for free on the Telegram Cloud. If that’s not enough, signing up for Telegram Premium ($4.99/£4.99 per month) increases this limit to 4GB.
What’s more, there’s no need to make it your primary messaging app if you don’t want to. A mobile number is required to sign up, but it can then be used as a standalone service on Windows, macOS, Linux and even via the web.
Use an external storage device
The final option is one you might not have considered, and it only works if the recipient is nearby. Transferring the files to a USB stick or external hard drive is an easy way to move them to someone else’s device.
If this is an option for you, look for something with high read and write speeds, such as an SSD. This will ensure the files are transferred as quickly as possible.