How-To Geek

What You Said: How You Transfer Large Files

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
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Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite trick for transferring large files between your computer and a friend’s. Now we’re back with a roundup of your tips.

When you have a large file to transfer to a friend, email restrictions require you to jump through a few more hoops than simply slapping it in a message and sending it their way. Fortunately, you all have a myriad of tricks to help get the files where they need to go.

Steve-O-Rama’s comment highlights a common theme in the comments—using a multi-tier system to accommodate various file sizes.

As always, time is the critical factor, so I try to strike a balance between WHEN the other person or organization needs the data, and HOW I’m going to transfer it.

Under a gig? Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive, whatever service blows your skirt up.

Between one and five (?) gigs, off to the FTP server it goes!

Anything more than that, say a full system Ghost image, video files, etc., and, as primitive as it sounds, I’ll send them by snail mail; the data will go to a USB drive, DVD+R DLs, or even a large external hard drive, and it’s there in two days (usually) without a hitch. It’s much easier to “burn, stamp, and drop,” especially with the data caps some ISPs are enforcing, than to depend solely upon high-bandwidth connections which may not always be present.

If it’s critical, sensitive, or confidential data, I’ll transport it myself, as in “drive my truck to their house or place of business,” on one of the aforementioned media. This way, I KNOW the data will not be compromised, and it’s a heck of a lot faster than waiting for a terabyte to download from the FTP server. :)

While Steve opted for a sneakernet for large files, Anon goes sneakernet all the way for total privacy:


I could elaborate but think about it. No mafia MPAA/RIAA groups sniffing around, no bandwidth caps, no complicated networking, no signing up with questionable services, low cost. About the only reason in favor of transferring files over the internet would be for instant gratification. Therefore, just use a cheap micro-SD and all you spend is the cost of an envelope and a postage stamp. Encrypt your files on that micro-SD and it’s pretty safe too.

MGtrek alternatives between a private file host and Dropbox:

It depends on the size, frequency, audience, and transfer direction.

For large files to clients, I post them on a secure area of my website. The client already knows the page, so all I have to do is tell them it is there. With a WordPress app, they can also upload to me. That keeps a professional look and feel to the transfers.

For a quick shot out to friends, I just use DropBox and send them a share.

If it is for one of the organizations to which I belong, and it will be frequent, I set up a DropBox for the organization and then share out directories from there. That way, the handful of people who submit articles and pictures for the club website just copy them to the directory and I get it right away. I grab it off of there and we gain the space back.

Posting on the website with links is also how I send out copies of our chorus’ rehearsals. They are recorded, then uploaded to a secure directory, and a link is posted next to the name of the piece with the rehearsal date.

Hit up the comment thread for more ideas, including a variety of votes for various temporary file transfer services.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/27/12

Comments (17)

  1. Romanby

    Using Skype is a simple way of transferring large files and I believe there is no limit to size.
    Both parties have Skype installed and open.
    Look in your Documents for the File you wish to send.
    Right Click on the File (Not Folder) and from the options, choose “send to skype”
    Another box opens and it will show all your contacts in Skype.
    Click on the one you wish to send to and then click “send”.
    The receiver agrees to the download and selects where to store in their Documents
    Both parties need Skype left open to transfer any files.
    This is really quite easy.

  2. brojer

    Sending SD cards through the USPS can be problematic if precautions are not taken. Sorting machines have high tension belts and sharp curves which may damage it. Put between two pieces of cardboard or better yet in a soft mailer or disk box.

  3. vgamesx1

    so has anyone ever heard of sharing in windows?
    you can use homegroup or map a network drive and share files over your LAN.

    one simple way I share large files with my local computers is I..
    find the folder/drive to share> right-click > share with > Advanced sharing (or properties then sharing tab) > then click the advanced sharing button > and check share this folder > (optional) premissions and check full control > ok
    then go to your other pc (the receving end) and click start > computer > (at the top) Map network drive > then simply add \\Your-PC\C (C being C:\ or any other folder you wanting to share) > next > done

    then you can share files as fast as your LAN allows, such as if you were on a b/g connection your max transfer rate would be about 2MB/s but if you had a 1000 router, and a NIC (network card) that supported 1000 (or 1GB/s) and were connected with Cat6 internet cables then you could transfer at a max of 1GB/s (of course to get anywhere close to that you would need a high speed SSD or a RAID of 2 or more SSDs)
    sorry for the long comment by the way.

  4. TheFu


    The question was about sharing large files **remotely,** not over a LAN. LAN sharing is trivial and has been for 20+ yrs across pretty much every platform, much longer for UNIX platforms. However, there were a few months recently when OSX didn’t like Samba earlier this year (for some reason?).

    Using Windows shares (CIFS) over the internet would be foolish without protected networking underlying the protocol.

  5. firetutor

    What about for files upto 2GB

  6. pol


  7. Branknew

    I’ve added an FTPS server on my WHS. If I’m using a linux client that I wanna transfer files to, I use SCP/PSCP.

  8. Peter Mundy

    I used to send and receive largish files to and from England and New Zealand and used a program called GSplit – – which was needed to be installed by computers at each end but was a relatively easy and small file to understand and download.
    Then the large file you want to split is split into sections by the GSplit software and these are sent to the other party.
    When the other party has all the individual “split” files he can use his version of GSplit and recombine them into the large file that was to be transferred.
    It worked well, and without fail, on every file we transferred.

  9. Rogue

    Using VPN and Tonido as Dropbox replacement.

  10. Stefan

    For files up to 2Gb (non-business critical) i use Wetransfer.

  11. Amit

    I still use HFS (HTTP File Server) in case someone feels setting up a FTP server is complicated.

  12. jonrichco

    Biggest I’ve done on Skype was 130 MB

  13. josbruyn to share files up to 10 GB

  14. Lise
  15. Steve Howe is an option depending on what you’re doing. It works over NAT and transfers directly between 2 hosts. On the bad side, requires flash.

  16. Sean Mighy

    I came across this tool to transfer big files called Binfer. Binfer makes it quite easy to transfer big files. Visit for details

  17. Jamal

    I would like to share another way to transfer big files. Binfer makes it quite easy to transfer big files. It can transfer big files of any size.

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