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Listing the 13 best file sharing methods in the market for 2021

Exploring the 13 best ways in 2021 to transfer or share large files over the internet when your email client doesn’t allow the file’s increase in size.

Published: July 31, 2021 By Rakesh Naik

Title image for Sending large files over the internet, that can’t be sent using your email client depicting the transfer of files between different computers

Have you ever not been able to send an attachment with your email because it was too large? It can be quite frustrating when your email client gives you a notification about your file size being too large an attachment. Well, you’re in luck!

In this article, we look at the 13 best ways in which you can share or transfer such large files over the internet without any inconvenience.

The best tools for such file transfer will be user-friendly, offer a good amount of storage, and even be quick and easy to set up and use. The tools that I have listed in this article have been tried and tested by me and are given a rating based on these parameters that I listed above.

Mind you, these are my personal opinions about these tools and software as a user and I am not sponsored by any of the brands on the list. The rating reflects my experience with the tools, and I have listed all the pros & cons that I found while using these.

 

The best file sharing methods


File Transfer Method
Rating (Out of 10)
Cloud storage to store, upload and share data
10
WeTransfer, an online free service to send large files
10
MyAirBridge, that allows the upload of a file to share using a link
9
FTPS which is a TLS protected secure transfer
9
Slack, the team communication platform
8
SFTP through a secure channel
8
Courier an external storage device that is password protected
8
FTP Server to directly allow transfer of files
7
Filemail online website for quick and large data transfers
7
Brandfolder to share a collection of assets
7
SendThisFile, an end-to-end encrypted file transfer service
7
Compression software to compress large files
6
VPN to hide the size, content, and destination of the file shared
5

 

1. Cloud storage to store, upload and share data

Google drive and various other services offered by google that help with cloud storage of files

Image Source – Google

In my opinion, the best way to transfer large files over the internet is by using one of the freely available cloud storage services. All you have to do is create an account on one of these platforms and you’re all set to upload, send and share various types of files over the internet.

The most common cloud storage systems available around Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. Google Drive works well with Gmail, Dropbox with Yahoo mail, and OneDrive with Outlook. But of course, they are interchangeable and don't have to be paired accordingly.

Storage space is also free on these cloud storage with a cap; 15GB on Google drive, 5GB for OneDrive, and 2GB on Dropbox.

Why I enjoy cloud storage is due to its accessibility, meaning that I can upload my files to cloud storage and access them from anywhere provided I have an internet connection.


Pros
Cons
  • High scalability
  • Global accessibility
  • Low cost
  • High security
  • Difficult to migrate
  • Lack of total control


2. WeTransfer, an online free service to send large files

The various platforms supported by WeTransfer – Desktop application, smartphone, and web browser (from left to right)

Image Source – wetransfer.com

WeTransfer is an online file transfer service that is very popular amongst users across the globe. It supports large files with sizes as big as 2GB to be shared via email to whomsoever that you require.

Using WeTransfer is as simple as visiting their website, agreeing to the T&Cs, and simply upload the files you require to transfer/share. You will also be required to enter your email address as well as the recipient's email address before you can send the files.

The lack of a sign-up requirement is why I especially enjoy using this service making it quite quick and easy to share files with.

WeTransfer also allows generating a link for the uploaded files rather than having to send it as an email. This link can simply be shared using which the recipient can then download the shared files at their convenience.


Pros
Cons
  • Perfect for one-off use
  • No sign-in or sign-up is required on either side of the use
  • No additional downloads
  • Can also generate a link for files instead of sending them as an email
  • Doesn’t offer backups
  • Only 2GB available at a time


3. Compression software to compress large files

Image depicting the size of a file before and after the file compression process

A different approach to sending large files over the internet is the use of file compression software. These tools effectively compress your data to reduce the file size allowing easier transfer over the internet.

Various free tools already exist for this purpose of which the most popular are 7zip, and WinRAR. You can simply download & install these, and start using them immediately.

Using them is quite simple as well; all you have to do is right-click whatever file you need to compress and select the option "compress” or “add to archive”. These tools also give you the option to set a password for the compressed data, requiring the password to extract the files from the compression.

These tools are quite easy to use and of course, free-to-use. But these might not be quite ideal when it comes to larger files over 100MB as they certainly have a limit, they can compress the files to.


Pros
Cons
  • Password protection
  • Provides more control over files than other methods of transfer
  • No cost involved whatsoever
  • Can reduce size up to a certain limit
  • Manual process and takes time to compress larger files
  • Recipient required to use the same software to decompress


4. FTP Server to directly allow transfer of files

The basic FTP connection process between an FTP client and the FTP server

Image Source – ExaVault Blog

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and an FTP server much like cloud storage can store large files that can be accessed by authorized users. But unlike cloud storage, FTP requires the user to be more knowledgeable and use particular software to access the FTP server.

FTP runs the TCP/IP protocol and was designed particularly for such transfers involving large files. To use this, a user has to download an FTP client, and set up an FTP server to which they can add whatever files that need to be shared.

To access these files,  you will need to know your IP address, username, and password are required. You can add more users to the authorized list allowing them too to access these files and also set access control for these users.

However, the FTP server is quite insecure and can be easily hacked by a malicious party to access sensitive information stored on the server. The system also requires quite a lot of technical set-ups initially which might not be possible for a lot of users.


Pros
Cons
  • No restriction on size
  • Well made for sharing larger files with ease
  • Global access to files stored on the FTP server
  • Initial set-up requires quite some technical know-how
  • Can be easily hacked by malicious users
  • Any error in the server will render the system useless

 

5. VPN to hide the size, content, and destination of the file shared

A user using a VPN service to access the internet and bypass ISP restrictions

Image Source – nordvpn.com

While not the most common scenario, sometimes, the reason for you not being able to send or transfer large files over the internet will be restrictions set in place by your ISP. To bypass this restriction, we can use a VPN or a Virtual Proxy Network.

A VPN masks your location and also provides encryption for the data transferred over your network be it sent or received. A VPN can also protect you from hackers sniffing your data packets and is particularly useful on a public network.

When it comes to the transfer of large files which could be restricted by your ISP, the VPN masks the actual size, nature, and content of the data allowing you to bypass your ISP restrictions.

However, this method is not very useful in terms of the transfer of large files since not many ISPs restrict the data size that can be transferred. The large file size also means that the entire VPN network will slow down due to the large load.

To choose the right VPN for you read our article, 10 Best VPN Services of 2021 that lists the best VPNs of 2021 with details regarding their pricing and such.


Pros
Cons
  • Provides security to data
  • Masks the type, size, and content of files
  • Bypass restrictions set by the ISP
  • Slows down the network
  • Not applicable to most large file scenarios


6. Slack, the team communication platform

Slack user-interface as on a web browser and as a smartphone application

Image Source – slack.com

Slack is a communication platform used in a corporate setting for team communications. While it isn't a file store, it can, however, be used to send large files (a couple of gigabytes) to your teammates who use the platform.

It is easy to sign-up for and use, requiring minimum effort, and is especially useful in case you are working with your team to develop a common project. It also can maintain hierarchies without the use of unnecessary and regular permissions.

It offers 5GB of free storage to free users who don’t use a premium plan. Being a communication platform, you can also send messages over the platform. Once you consume the 5GB free storage, the older files will get automatically deleted to make room for newer files.


Pros
Cons
  • Can be used to collaborate on common projects
  • Easy to use
  • Advanced encryption technology used
  • No additional software required
  • Primarily a communication platform & doesn’t offer most encryption methods compared to others


7. Filemail online website for quick and large data transfers

 

The filemail user-interface on a tablet device and a smartphone

Image Source – filemail.com

Much like WeTransfer, Filemail is also an online service that allows you to send large files to anyone. However, it is not free and incurs a monthly charge.

Using Filemail is quite simple; all you have to do is create an account with a given payment plan, fill out a form with your email and the recipient email and then upload the files that need to be shared. It is as simple as that.

In case, you don’t want to send the files over email, you can always generate a unique link for the uploaded files which can be shared with whoever you need. The recipient simply has to visit the link and download the files that were to be shared.

The only downside to the Filemail service is the fact that it has no freeware available. There are plenty of other choices available that are free and can perform the same functions as Filemail.


Pros
Cons
  • Can generate unique links to share files
  • 25GB storage available for the base plan
  • Quick and easy to use
  • 7-day free trial available
  • 10TB storage space available
  • Only offers paid plan
  • Isn’t very secure


8. Brandfolder to share a collection of assets

 

The Brandfolder dashboard on a web browser

Image Source – brandfolder.com

Brandfolder is a more professional service used in a team-based organization to share your assets with other members of your team. Rather than sharing one file at a time, you can share the entire asset and assign access control so that your teammates can access it anytime without you having to send it again.

Brandfolder offers enterprise options that you can set up for an entire organization if required, and makes management of assets by a related team quite easy.

However, Brandfolder is, at the end of the day, an enterprise-level file sharing option and is mostly inapplicable to regular users like you and me.


Pros
Cons
  • Can share assets with team members
  • Professional option with good features
  • Allows you to set multi-tiered access controls
  • Can measure each asset’s performance
  • Meant primarily for enterprise-level use


9. MyAirBridge, which allows upload of a file to share using a link

The MyAirBridge user-interface on the sender side with options to send file as email or a link

Image Source – myairbridge.com

Like the couple file transfer services listed before, MyAirBridge also allows you to share or send large files over the internet without any fuzz.

MyAirBridge does not have any sign-up or sign-in requirements to use it. You simply have to visit the website, click on "send files as email” and go from there. It will also require your and the recipient’s email address to function.

If you don't want to send the files as an email, MyAirBridge also offers an option to generate a unique link for your files. All you have to do is visit the website and choose the “send files via the link” option.

However, even though it offers password protection, MyAirBridge isn’t the best when it comes to data security. It also does not have a good user interface when it comes to the recipient’s end for downloading the files.


Pros
Cons
  • Send files by email or generate a unique link
  • 20GB of file size supported
  • Supports download of multiple files
  • Password protection available
  • Not the best in terms of security
  • Very messy user interface especially on the recipient side


10. SFTP through a secure channel

The basic SFTP connection between an SFTP client and the SFTP server through a secure shell or SSH channel

Image Source – ExaVault Blog

SFTP or Secure File Transfer Protocol tries to overcome the lack of security of the FTP server by using secure shell encryption for data. Besides this one fact, it mostly works pretty much like FTP.

Like FTP, SFTP too requires a client to be set up first, before you can send or share large files with others. Due to its use of secure shell or SSH for encryption, you can limit access to other users and also protects against misconfiguration attacks by malicious hackers.

SFTP also is set up as a server that is accessible globally over the internet making it quite useful while trying to access files from a remote location. It has no size restrictions on storage either much like the FTP server.

However, besides the security, SFTP shares all of the other disadvantages with FTP. It requires quite a bit of technical know-how and initial setup for a user to begin using SFTP. This might be quite tedious for a common user making it difficult to set up and very time-consuming.


Pros
Cons
  • Improves on security using secure shell
  • No size restrictions
  • Doesn’t use too many ports to work
  • Easy access for authorized users
  • Requires technical know-how
  • Requires technical setup initially


11. FTPS which is a TLS protected secure transfer

Another secure version of the FTP protocol, FTPS or File Transfer Protocol Secure, is a protocol that eliminates the security issues with the FTP server. It uses more advanced encryption than FTP and even SFTP making this the most secure version of the protocol.

The FTPS system allows for the authentication of file transfers through passwords, client certificates, and server certificates. Like FTP, this protocol also uses a username and password combination to allow users to connect to the server for file transfer.

The FTPS protocol uses the Secure Socket Layer or SSL (also called TLS) to encrypt all connections and file transfers from the server. The FTPS protocol is also compliant with most regulatory frameworks such as PCI DSS, SOX, HIPAA, and HITECH.

It too has vulnerabilities like the open port during a data transfer can be hacked if any misconfiguration in the system exists. But the point I am making here is that it is much more secure than the other variants of FTP.


Pros
Cons
  • Uses SSL for advanced session encryption
  • Authentication through passwords and certificates improve security
  • Compliant with PCI DSS, SOX, HIPAA, and HITECH
  • Requires technical setup initially
  • New ports open for every transfer
  • Can be hacked if misconfigured


12. SendThisFile, an end-to-end encrypted file transfer service

The SendThisFile dashboard on a desktop application

Image Source – sendthisfile.com

SendThisFile is a free-to-use file share service that allows you to transfer and send large files to whoever you require. It however does require you to sign-up for the service using your information.

You simply have to create a free account to start sending large files, and it doesn’t require any payment information beforehand either. You can enter the recipient email address and then attach the files to be sent which can be a maximum size of 2GB.

One thing that is quite interesting with this particular platform is that it offers a plugin for the outlook email client and you can directly attach the files to your email using the SendThisFile plugin.

The service also offers end-to-end encryption using AES-256 and 128-bit TLS encryption for all file transfers. But these aren’t very unique features and are available with most other similar services.

The only downside for me personally is the sign-up process that is mandatory for using the service. If they offered enough functionality such as unique link generation or other email plugins, the sign-up wouldn’t be so bad.


Pros
Cons
  • Plugin integration with Outlook
  • End-to-end encryption
  • Easy to use and user friendly
  • No unique link generation
  • Requires sign-up


13. Courier an external storage device that is password protected

Alt: “Image depicting delivery of couriers all over the globe through various modes of delivery”

Yes, I know I said file transfer over the internet, but I had to cheat a little bit for this last section. A physical storage device can be purchased as per user requirements and can have storage in terabytes.

If you have the time, you could simply store all important files that you need to send to someone on a storage device such as an external hard drive or USB drive, and simply courier it to the recipient as required.

You have to, however, make sure that the storage device is strong password protected and also that all the data on the device is encrypted using any encryption software available on the market.

The only and one the major downfall to this method is that it takes a lot of time. I would recommend you do this only if you are sending the files with no expectation of receiving any update or reply from the recipient and also have plenty of time to spare.

This is quite useful if the files you are sending are highly confidential or important and you don't want any other copy of the file to exist anywhere else. This usually includes government secrets or highly confidential/illegal data. This is only guaranteed if a trusted courier is used, or you deliver it personally.


Pros
Cons
  • High confidentiality and security
  • Eliminate multiple copies of a file
  • Huge storage possible
  • No internet required
  • Highly time-consuming
  • Not cost-effective


H2: Conclusion

An email service such as Gmail or Yahoo is not usually capable of sharing files over the size of 25MB. With the rising need for data in today's information age, the need to transfer large files over the internet has become more important than ever.

In this article, we explored the 13 best ways using which you can share or transfer large files over the internet (almost) along with their pros and cons.

Infographics listing the 13 best ways to transfer large files over the internet

Feel free to share the code of infographics

<iframe width="574" height="2597" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="overflow-y:hidden;" src="https://cooltechzone.com/sites/default/files/pictures/sharing-methods-14.jpg"></iframe>
 

If you liked this article, or know of some additional tools that can be used for the same, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Tags: 
Technology
Author
Rakesh Naik
Freelance Cyber Security Analyst and Writer practicing in Infosec Assessment.

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