What You Said: How You Transfer Large Files

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By Jason Fitzpatrick on July 27th, 2012


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
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