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The Best Ways to Transfer, Send or Share Large Files

Best Ways to Transfer Send or Share Large Files

Diego Asturias UPDATED: October 23, 2023

In this post, we’ll go through the eight best methods to transfer and share large files. Whether you need to upload a couple of files, your entire media collection, or database backups— the following methods will give you flexibility, speed/security at various prices.

The best ways to transfer, send, or share large files

Our methodology for selecting the best ways to send large files

We reviewed the market for secure file sharing software and analyzed options based on the following criteria:

  • A service that can be integrated into email systems to store attachments
  • Encryption to protect data in motion and at rest
  • An admin account that can create sub-accounts for individual users
  • Link mailing for access invitations
  • User access controls over files and folders
  • A free trial or a demo that provides an opportunity to examine the system before buying
  • Value for money from a tool that offers a secure file management solution at a fair price

With these selection criteria in mind, we identified a number of secure file sharing tools that reduce the cost of file management.

1. Cloud Storage

Popular cloud storage providers such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Files.com, ExaVault.com, Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud, and OneDrive provide a great deal of flexibility when it comes to storing and transferring data. Most of these cloud storage solutions offer free storage but are cost-efficient when you want to scale.

For example, you can get free cloud storage from Google Drive for the first 15GBs. Another popular cloud storage is Dropbox, which offers free storage for less than 2GBs, but you can upgrade to 2TBs of storage, for $19.99.

Files.com – FREE TRIAL

Files.com

Files.com, a secure file-sharing for businesses, starts only at $10.00/month/user and 1TB of monthly usage (and scale to 5TBs, for $15.00). Sign up to get a free 7-day trial with Files.com.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Granular control over access and sharing
  • Highly scalable

Pros:

  • Scalable solution, making it ideal for both small businesses and enterprises alike
  • Features robots user management, permissions, and access control to support long-term use
  • Allows users to create links to files that have special rules, such as expiration dates or click tracking
  • Can compress large files for faster transfer
  • Supports integrations into other cloud-based storage options such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive

Cons:

  • While the platform is easy to use, some of the more advanced features can take time to learn and implement

Start Free 7-day Trial at Files.com

ExaVault – FREE TRIAL

ExaVault Home Folders

Transfer files to a cloud platform and leave them there instead of sending them out to external parties. This is the strategy that lies at the heart of the ExaVault package.

Key Features:

  • Easy to navigate admin console
  • Integrates with various cloud platforms
  • Automatically syncs files

Files on the platform can be shared by their owners with other users on the system. By the same mechanism of granting access to a file on the ExaVault server, users can eradicate the need to transfer files outside of the environment. You can get a 30-day free trial of ExaVault.

Pros:

  • Simple user interface
  • Can integrate with other cloud-based storage platforms such as Google Drive
  • Uses intelligence file sync to keep track of files and eliminate duplicates

Cons:

  • While the platform is easy to use, some of the more advanced features can take time to learn and implement

Start Free 30-day Trial at ExaVault.com

Most of the popular cloud-based storage services, allow you to share files via email or sharable links. For example, Google Drive, Files.com, ExaVault.com, Jumpshare, Dropbox, etc, allows you to share a file by just granting permission to a user via his or her email, or also by providing them with their sharable link.

Share Link

2. File Sync Solutions

File synchronization, also known as File Sync, is a method that ensures files in two or more locations (or devices) are automatically updated, using a certain set of rules. File syncing is often used for backup and file versioning.

Most file sync solutions are based on the Rsync protocol. It skips rewriting identical files, copies only new files, portions of files, etc.

With file sync software, you can transfer a copy of your data stored on-premises to another device on the same LAN or to a cloud server. Examples of these file sync solutions include Resilio, Dropbox, and File.com.

Sync Pro

  • Files.com Optimal for businesses that have files across multiple cloud providers. Files.com opens secure connections and creates the same versions of the data across different cloud providers. Sign up to get a free trial with files.com.
  • Resilio Sync It is a proprietary P2P file sync tool. It is great for sharing large files across different platforms. It does not store data in cloud servers.
  • Dropbox One of the pioneers in file syncing, Dropbox has made some innovations in this area, such as LAN syncing and Smart sync.

3. File Transfer Protocols

File transfer protocols were made to send and share files regardless of type and size. In fact, many cloud storage services use file transfer protocols to transfer files between client and server.

To use these protocols without any additional cloud service, you would need a client, the server, and software. For example, you can use your computer with FileZilla client and perfectly connect to an FTPS Server using WinSCP, and transfer large files over FTPS. You can use these protocols in free tools like FileZilla, WinSCP, Cyberduck, or SolarWinds SFTP/SCP Server.

Below are examples of popular file transfer protocols often used to transfer and share large files.

  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP), is the fastest but less secure. FTP doesn't use any encryption, so, it shares all data including authentication, in plain text. FTP is not recommended unless you are using it in an internal secure network.
  • FTP Secure, but also referred to as FTP-SSL (FTPS), is based on the standard FTP protocol but adds security via TLS/SSL encryption.
  • SFTP. SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is not related to FTP but works via the SSH protocol. This mechanism is very secure, fast, and easy to use.

Related Post: Best SCP Server For Windows

The SolarWinds FTP Suite

Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server

The Free FTP Voyager is an FTP client for Windows. It supports FTP, FTPS, and SFTP and comes with automation capabilities that allow you to schedule downloads/uploads.

Key Features:

  • Highly customizable access controls and features
  • Supports multiple transfer sessions
  • Supports EDI environments

With Solarwinds FTP Voyager you can set automatic folder synchronization and schedule transfers, which is perfect for large file backups. Another highlight of this tool is that you can also create multiple FTP server sessions from a singular client and perform concurrent file transfers.

If you are also looking to set up your FTP server, you would need server-side software. The Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server provides file transferring services for FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and HTTPS.

If you want to share large files, setting up an FTP server that scales is key. The Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server integrates with NAS/SAN and other external servers for storage and easy access of files.

Pros:

  • Can support large volumes of file transfers
  • Free to use
  • Has an advanced user interface, helpful for managing multiple file transfer locations or partners
  • Can automatically sync files, helping keep both parties updated
  • Built for business use, EDI, backups, etc

Cons:

  • Not designed for home users, features are designed for larger enterprise companies

Download: Get the free unlimited FTP client and try the free 14-Day trial of Serv-U MFT Server.

4. WebDAV: HTTP-based File Transfer

Although HTTP and HTTPS were made to display websites, and not explicitly to transfer files, the protocols still need to load files from the server like HTML, PHP, JS, and anything that makes a website and service work. They need to transfer files between the website (server) and web browser (client).

Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV), is an extension of HTTP, but with a twist. It allows full management of web content on a remote web-server. In other words, it makes a web server act as a file server. Many cloud-based collaboration services, such as Sharepoint, use WebDAV to allow its users to create, modify, upload, download, remote, etc on the files.

Key Features:

  • Open source
  • Easy to learn and navigate
  • Supports multiple namespaces

WebDAV Clients?

Files.com

A WebDAV client can be used to log into a collaboration service account and take control of the files on the webserver.

  • WinSCP is open-source file-sharing software, with support for WebDAV.
  • There are some cloud storage services, such as Files.com that allow users to access remote files via WebDAV.

Nowadays, due to security concerns, most WebDAV clients would only connect via HTTPS (HTTP over Transport Layer Security (TLS), or (HTTP over SSL). WebDAV also includes innovative features like DAV locking, properties, namespace manipulation, encryption (via HTTP over SSL), authentication, caching, and proxying.

Pros:

  • Simple interface – easy to use and lightweight
  • Open-source transparent application
  • Supports a CLI as well as basic GUI

Cons:

  • Only available on Windows
  • Lacks some in-depth text editing features

Start Free WebDAV Trial at Files.com

5. P2P – BitTorrent

BitTorrent is a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing mechanism designed to distribute and share large files. The protocol is highly underrated— mainly because it has been widely adopted by the pirate community, but the protocol is perfectly legal. 

Some Linux distributions use it to share their software with their end-users in a more efficient and faster way.

P2P - BitTorrent

Other examples? Blizzard, a gaming company uses BitTorrent to share its updates and patches. A Facebook engineer, also officially stated that they use BitTorrent to internally push updates to all their distributed servers.

How Does it Work?

Being able to take massive files, create chunks out of them, share them to multiple destinations, and reconstruct them on the other side, makes BitTorrent a fantastic file-sharing mechanism.

6. Network File Shares via VPN

When sharing files within internal networks, people often use techniques like NFS, SMBs, homegroups, or NAS. Obviously staying within network perimeters, makes these file-sharing mechanisms the safest and the fastest. But nowadays, hardly anyone stays within network perimeters, they are either always on the move or working remotely.

So, how to access these shared libraries and files remotely? There is a solution to make those shared (NFS or SMB) folders remotely accessible— but bear in mind that these require advanced technical expertise. 

Creating a VPN

VPNs were originally designed with the idea of connecting distributed endpoints to a headquarters in order to access internal network resources and download files using network file shares.

How Devices Work Without a firewall

Using a VPN is one of the safest ways to transfer large internal files using the Internet. With a VPN you would be able to:

  • Map a network drive (NAS or SAN).
  • Connect to Samba Shares.
  • Or just open a shared folder.

7. Remote Desktop Software

Remote desktop applications were designed to access and control desktops— not really to transfer files between them. However, advanced remote desktop solutions started to include file sharing mechanisms to allow end-users to transfer any file between clients/servers, without the need for any additional software.

Remote Desktop Software

Some Examples?

  • Splashtop A powerful remote desktop with drag-n-drop file sharing.
  • Parallels Desktop Best remote desktop for mobile devices, also support file sharing.
  • LogMeIn Pro Best remote desktop for enterprises. It also supports file sharing and storage.
  • TeamViewer One of the most popular remote desktop solutions for multi-platforms. It also supports file sharing.

Most of these applications allow large file sharing between PCs, laptops, and even mobile.

8. Shipping a Hard Drive or USB

Using a shipping or courier service to take and deliver your hard drive with massive data, is often a faster solution than using your own Internet connection. It is also cheaper, as you don’t have to upgrade your bandwidth.

But, bear in mind that sending a hard drive by mail is not always a good idea. Some carriers might not be even aware of the contents within the package, so your data can be prone to theft, loss, or disk damage.

However, there are some solutions to this problem:

The AWS Import/Export for Massive Transfers

AWS Import/Export for Massive Transfers

AWS Import/Export is a service that helps you transfer massive amounts of data from your on-premises to the AWS cloud; which otherwise would take a long time to transfer with your Internet connection.

 How does this work? 

  1. You mail a portable storage device with your data to AWS.
  2. The AWS Import/Export service transfers data from your physical storage to AWS’s internal network, using high-speed internal transferring.
  3. Your data is in the AWS cloud within one business day.

Deciding on a file-sharing tool

When it comes to transferring, sending, or sharing any file (regardless of size and type), security and speed are two crucial factors. 

  • To ensure security: Always use encryption mechanisms embedded in HTTPS, SFTP, or VPN. Authentication is also key when sharing anything across the Internet. Most cloud services use these mechanisms.
  • To ensure speed: When uploading folders to cloud storage, always compress your files. Use free compression software like 7-Zip or WinZip. FileSync and P2P are two great methods for sharing large files.

To find flexible solutions with security and speed, cloud storage is the way to go. Cloud solutions such as files.com, ExaVault.com, Google Drive, Dropbox, provide amazingly flexible pricing and even free storage.

Large file transfer FAQs

How can I send a large PDF file?

Sending any type of large file can be a time-consuming task, fraught with failure and retransmission. The most reliable method of sharing such large files is to upload them to a cloud drive and then mail out a link. This gives the recipients the option of viewing the file in its location and then deciding on whether it is necessary to copy the file over. Link forwarding is also a better way to control who gets access to a PDF file because access controls can be placed on the file, such as allowing recipients to view the file and not edit or copy it.

How can I send a large file via email?

Introduce a policy of mailing links instead of files when distributing large files. Uploading files to cloud storage and then sending links to them is a better way to control access to the information in the file. It also allows you to track access events. In the case of information that would benefit from uncontrolled redistribution, such as sales pitches, it would be better to break the large file up into a series of linked presentations and store them in a controlled cloud drive directory with sharing allowed.

What is the maximum file size for Gmail?

Gmail allows each email to carry attachments up to a total size of 25 MB. If you want to email several files that have a combined size of more than 25 MB, you could send out the batch over a series of emails. If a file attached to an email is larger than 25 MB, Gmail automatically moves that file to Google Drive and then replaces it in the email with a link.

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