Getting Around Attachment Size Limits — Update for 2015

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Without question, the most trafficked post I have ever done on this blog is this one: Get Around Attachment Size Limits — Update and Expansion. I wrote it back in 2010 about ways to get around email attachment file size limits. This can be a frustrating problem, especially with a lot of corporate email having very small attachment size limits, and little warning about those limits until you hit them. I figure that now — almost five years later — the time is right to update the information from the original post.

What is really surprising to me is actually how little has changed. To get around attachment file size limits, you really have three main options: 1) Select an email provider that allows for large attachments 2) Use a cloud storage solution to create links to files that can be put into an email or 3) Use a file transfer service, many of which are free or freemium.

Email providers
Back in 2010, I said that the best email provider to use for sending big attachments was Google’s Gmail, which had allowed for attachments up to 25mb. Now, in 2015, Gmail allows attachments up to… 25mb. And, for whatever reason, it seems like the industry has standardized around that number. Yahoo and AOL are also at 25mb, and Outlook is at 20mb. This means that as long as you’re using one of the major email providers, it doesn’t really matter which one you use. 25mb is enough to send most files, but I often deal with files larger than that, including spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations. Plus, sometimes you have to use your work/company email, which is often much less generous when it comes to attachments. In these cases, I turn to one of the next two options.

Cloud Storage
Keeping files of all sort in the cloud has really caught on in the last 5 years. People in general are much more aware of it and comfortable with it than they used to be, and there is a lot of competition in this space. The major players are Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box. They work by letting you store your files on the company’s servers, which allows you to access them across your devices and the web, as well as keeps the files in sync and serves as a backup. They also all allow for you to create a link to a stored file which can then be put into an email in order to share it with someone.

The advantage is that you can send that link to anyone since there is no attachment to the email, no need to worry about if the recipient can receive large files. There are also advantages of using Google Drive with Gmail and OneDrive with Outlook — both let you attach stored files straight from your email.

However, there are downsides. One is that you only have a limited amount of storage before you need to begin paying. Every major provider has increased the amount of storage they offer for free recently: Dropbox now has 3gb, Box offers 10gb, and both Google Drive and OneDrive come with 15gb. Another is that you need to sign up for these services, though that may not be a big deal if you already have a Microsoft account or Google account. Finally, there could be some confusion on the recipients end around getting to the file if they have never been exposed to any of these types of services before, but that is lessening as the cloud goes mainstream.

In all this is a great option, and I find myself using it frequently. I personally use OneDrive the most, followed by Google Drive, but each of the services is great.

File Transfer Services
In the old post, I wrote about two of these: transferbigfiles.com and filedropper.com. I thought for sure this information would be out of date by now, but five years later and they haven’t changed. They’re both “freemium” — they allow you to transfer files up to a certain size for free, and if you need to transfer something bigger you have to pay. The advantage to these services is that they allow for quite large files, and unlike the cloud storage options, they do not require you to create an account or use up storage space for keeping other things.

Transferbigfiles.com allows for a file up to 100mb in size, so it’s not the largest, and it will send an email to the recipient with a download link. Whenever I’ve used it, it has worked well. However, the downside is that the email comes from transferbigfiles, not from you, which can cause confusion for the recipient.

Filedropper.com allows for files up to 5gb, which should be plenty for most situations. It creates a link which you then share in the email, so the email is coming from you. This service has also worked great whenever I tried it. The link does take you to a download page — not the file itself — which can be a little confusing the first time.

I wanted to discover if there were any great new services that have sprung up in the last five years. The slickest one I’ve found is called wetransfer.com. The interface seems nice and it allows for files up to 2gb in size. I haven’t used it enough to vouch for it, but it worked well when I tested it out. Like transferbigfiles, the email comes from them, not from you. I will try this one more in the future if I have a file that is less than 2gb.

So, when it comes to transferring large files and getting around those pesky attachment size limits, those are your best options. While not much has changed, I do think it is easier that it used to be thanks to increased awareness and use of the cloud. Do you have any favorite methods to send files? Any that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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