6 min read

How to Share Large Files via Email (2024)

June 11, 2024


Anyone sending emails has likely seen this message before – “Error: File size exceeds limit.” This happens when trying to send large files through email and it’s frustrating. The reality? Email accounts don’t usually have the storage space to handle multiple large files like videos, presentations, or images. 


There are limits on how big a file attachment in an email can be, depending on the provider your business uses. For example, popular email providers like Gmail and Outlook limit file sizes to 25MB and 20MB, respectively.  


However, these limits don't mean that you can’t send larger files. In this article, we’ll cover alternative options for how to send large files, outline the pros and cons of each, and share what to look out for when choosing a file sharing solution for business.  



How to send a file that is too big for email


To send a file that’s too large for email, try one of the following four options: 



1. File compression


Compressing files is a quick and easy process that you can use to send large files through email. It removes redundant data to make the file size smaller, consuming less bandwidth, so it’s easier to send as a result.



Pros for using file compression


  • Send large files without limitation: Compressing a file keeps it within email server size limits for attachments. This means no more “file too big” errors. 
  • Upload and download documents faster: The reduced size means you can upload and download files faster. This is especially helpful when sending videos or high-resolution images. 
  • Preserves the file structure: When you compress files, the structure of your original files will be preserved. 
  • Maintains security: Some compression formats allow for password protection on files. This adds an extra layer of security for files with sensitive information. 



Cons when using file compression


  • Format selection: Different compression formats have different levels of efficiency and compatibility, so deciding which one is right for your business can take time. 
  • Learning curve: If you’re new to a compression tool it will take time to familiarize yourself with the platform. 
  • Decompression time: Recipients have an added step of decompressing the files you send them. Depending on their system and the original file size, this can take anywhere from seconds to minutes.



2. File transfer tools 


Services like WeTransfer and SendAnywhere specialize in sharing large files. Users upload  files and receive a link from the platform to send large files through email. 



Pros for using file transfer tools 


  • Improves security: File transfer tools often include encryption and secure protocols, safeguarding files during transfer. 
  • Saves time with automation: You can streamline data movement and efficiency with automated workflows, saving time. 
  • Centralizes your file management: You can organize and track transfers from a single interface, giving better visibility to where the data is going.  
  • Leverages a user-friendly interface: Users do not need extensive training or technical experience to start transfers. 



Cons when using file transfer tools 


  • Slows transfer speeds: Since you are switching between applications, it can make the file sharing process longer.
  • Lacks link history: If a recipient loses an original link sent to them, you may have to re-upload files, causing inconvenience and productivity delays. 
  • Limits monitoring: These tools often have limited tracking capabilities, so you can’t see who is accessing the files and when. 
  • Security concerns: There’s an increased risk of malware, ransomware, and viruses affecting the shared files. If a computer that’s been used to access files is compromised, it can spread to other systems.  



3. Integrated cloud services


Cloud storage services like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive let you upload files to the cloud and share access links to recipients through email. 



Pros for using integrated cloud services


  • Cut costs: Cloud-based file sharing cuts down on the need for physical storage devices, reducing expenses for maintaining local servers. 
  • Save time: Files can be accessed quickly from anywhere, making collaboration seamless. 
  • Improve accessibility: Even if a file is stored on-premises, cloud services make it easier to share and access from anywhere.
  • Enhance security: Cloud providers prioritize security, with offerings like encryption, access controls, and regular data backups. Files are protected and can be recovered even if a device is lost or damaged. 



Cons of using integrated cloud services


  • Internet dependency: Cloud storage relies on access to the internet. Without a reliable connection, uploading and accessing files will be slow, and in some cases — not possible.  
  • Storage limits: Freemium cloud storage versions have storage limits. Once reached, users are unable to store additional files without a paid subscription. 
  • Cost implications: Cloud storage offers scalability and flexibility. However, because tools are often priced by feature, costs can quickly pile up.
  • Limited control: Cloud providers manage the infrastructure, giving you little control over your data. You will also have to rely on your provider’s policies and practices. 
  • Downtime: Cloud services experience maintenance downtimes, technical issues, and outages. During this time,  you may not have access to your files. 
  • Privacy concerns: Because you’re entrusting your files to a third-party provider, there can be privacy concerns when storing sensitive data on external servers.


Related read: What is poor document management costing you? 



4. Collaborative file-sharing platforms


Using collaboration platforms, like ShareFile, is an ideal method because it's fast and safe. You can share files, collaborate, and get feedback from clients. 



Pros for using collaborative file-sharing platforms 


  • Access a centralized knowledge base: You can build files and share in one platform, which means no more app switching. Plus, these tools make it easy to organize, search for, and access files. 
  • Save money: With file-sharing platforms, you can reduce costs associated with physical storage devices, maintenance, and manual file transfer. 
  • Collaborate more efficiently: Teams can collaborate on files from anywhere, and multiple users can work in the same document at the same time. 
  • Share files securely: File-sharing platforms have email and file encryption baked-in, keeping sensitive data and documents safe. 
  • Use email plug-ins: These platforms often include plug-ins and integrations, allowing you to use the new tool in tandem with your favorite email server.  



Cons when using collaborative file-sharing platforms 


  • Internet dependency: Like cloud services, collaborating on file-sharing platforms requires strong internet connection for real-time access and teamwork. 
  • Security risks: If security is lacking, storing sensitive information with a third-party vendor may expose it to potential data breaches or unauthorized access. 
  • Subscription costs: Advanced features for these platforms require paid subscriptions. 
  • Learning curves: New platforms require training on its features and interface. This can impact efficiency in the beginning when teams are still learning new systems and processes. 



What to consider when choosing a file-sharing solution


From compressing files to using specialized file-sharing tools, the right method should address and resolve your business’ unique challenges. The following questions can help you understand what you need and what file sharing method might be right for your business. 



Questions to ask when choosing a file sharing option




  • size or type of files are you regularly sharing?
  • features do you need (think real-time editing, task management, and version control)? 
  • team members and clients need to have access to the files?




  • many users will you have? 
  • sensitive is the data you’ll be sharing, and will it require compliance with industry regulations (GDPR, HIPAA, etc.)?
  • will the file-sharing solution integrate with your existing tech stack and workflows? 




  • is your team located and will that affect accessibility in any way? 
  • is your business growth headed and can the solution scale with it? 



These considerations will help you find a solution that provides the best value for your business needs. Look for options that offer demos and free trial periods so you can test out what works best before investing.



Confidently share files via email 


Sending files over email should enhance your productivity, not hinder it. By using the information offered in this guide, you can better assess your options and choose the best solution for your business. The result? Enhanced communication, collaboration, and data security. 


When you take the time to assess which file sharing solution is right for your business, you’ll empower your team to work more efficiently and securely for years to come.