How do you share large files (anything in excess of 10 Megs) with friends and colleagues over the internet? One popular option is to create a zip file and send that as an email attachment since most web-based email services (like Yahoo Mail, Gmail or AOL) now allow file attachments anywhere between 10-20 MB in size.

The email approach works perfect but there may be some serious problems — one, not all ISPs or corporate email servers would accept large email messages and therefore your email may never reach the intended recipient.

Second, not all of us are lucky enough to have a high-speed broadband internet connection. It is more of a nightmare for someone on a dialup to download an email message that’s a few megs in size — it will choke his internet connection and if the download breaks, things will have to restart from scratch.


Fortunately, there exist some excellent services on the web that will help you share big files (like documents, home videos, audio MP3 files, high resolution photographs, CAD drawings, etc) of any size securely and easily. The other advantage — all these services come to you for free. The basic idea is quite the same behind most of these services — you upload the files onto their servers, set the permission level and pass on the download link to your friend over email instead of attaching the whole file.

The most popular service in the file sharing category is YouSendit.com — it allows you email files as large as 100 MB free of charge or upto 2GB if you pay a nominal fee. YouSendIt is like a mini email program — when you upload something through their web-based interface, you can specify the email addresses of the recipients and send them personal message along with a link to download the file.

YouSendIt recently introduced a free plug-in for Microsoft Outlook users — as you attach a file to you email message, Outlook will automatically send that file using the YouSendIt service. The YouSendIt icon in the system tray will indicate the current upload status of the file. This seamless integration with Outlook will appeal to a lot of Microsoft Office users.

A host of services on the web will help you transfer big files like documents, home videos, audio MP3 files, high resolution photographs and CAD drawings of any size securely and easilyScribd.com is another popular service for sharing PDFs and Microsoft Office documents for one simple reason — it offers recipients a chance to view the contents of the uploaded document online without having to download the files locally.

Scribd.com will convert all your uploaded Office documents and PDF files to Adobe Flash paper files which can be viewed inside any web browser that has a Flash plugin. The chances are 99.9% that Flash is already installed in your browser.

Most of the solutions mentioned above will allow you to share files upto 100 MB in size but what if you have file that exceeds that limit? Enter XDrive.com, an online file storage service from AOL that offers you 5GB on online storage space for free. The files stay online forever and you can also manage them from the desktop. Another advantage is that if the internet connection breaks during the upload process, AOL XDrive will resume from the point where it broke.

If you own a site or a blog and need a solution to share documents, pictures or videos with your visitors, look no further than Box.net — any extremely elegant solution that provides you a Windows File explorer like widget for your website. Visitors can browse the files without leaving your site and even download them for offline viewing. The space available is 1 GB.You may never have to worry about bouncing email messages again.