You’ve invested a significant amount of time in a design project and have added the final touches to the client deliverable. However, when you try to share the file with the client, you receive an unexpected message: “File too large to send.” Thankfully, this automated message need not be the last words of your project. If you encounter such storage challenges while attempting to transmit large files, several solutions exist to overcome this hurdle. And in this post, we will look into some of these solutions along with their pros and cons, so that you can choose the best option for your needs. But first, we will understand a key prerequisite before you share large files over the web.

Prerequisite: Compress large files before sharing

The process of sharing large files is often hindered by slow upload and download times, bandwidth limitations, and storage constraints. That's why it's essential to compress the files before sharing. Compression reduces the overall size of the file, making it quicker to upload and download. It also saves valuable storage space, which is beneficial for both you and the recipient, especially if either of you is dealing with limited storage capacities on their respective devices.

While file compression is essential, it is crucial to strike a perfect balance between reducing file size and maintaining acceptable quality. In the case of images, excessive size compression may result in a noticeable degradation of image quality, such as blurriness, pixelation, and color distortion.

In such cases, digital asset management platforms are preferred as they come with features to compress media size without losing quality, making them an ideal solution for large file sharing. For example, ImageKit - a digital asset management solution, has:

  • PNG Compression: This feature allows you to effortlessly switch between lossy and lossless compression techniques while compressing images. It is particularly useful for digital assets like logos, where you want to reduce file size without compromising output quality.
  • Chroma Subsampling: This feature of ImageKit compresses an image by taking advantage of the lower sensitivity of the human eye toward color rather than brightness.
  • Automatic Format Optimization: This feature automatically delivers the best image format to the end-user by considering factors like the required image quality and size.
  • Image Quality Optimization: measures the image quality on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 indicating the best quality and 1 indicating the lowest quality. Since human eyes cannot differentiate between images of quality 80 and 100, all higher-quality images are automatically brought down to 80 by ImageKit, thereby reducing file size.

Once you have compressed the file, you can use one of the below ways to share it with others.

Solution 1: Use cloud storage to share large media files

Most of us have shared media files through email services like Gmail and Outlook for personal and professional use. Depending on your email clients, you can use the company's cloud server for file sharing rather than storing them on your devices like laptops, phones, and tablets.

If you have a Gmail account, a simple click on the Google Drive button allows you to select your attachment in the Drive and proceed with the sending process. Outlook users can follow a similar procedure: clicking on the OneDrive option within Outlook to share large files. You also have alternate cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Box for sharing big files. In these platforms, all you need to do is upload the file and generate a shareable link that you can send to the intended recipients. Even though convenient, these cloud storage services have their drawbacks; more on it in the next section.

Why should you not use cloud storage file sharing like Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox?

Cloud storage platforms may be able to handle a diverse array of file types and boast user-friendly interfaces, but there are drawbacks to using cloud storage for sharing large files. Such as:

  • The nested folder structure makes it difficult to know where the file has been stored, making the access and retrieval of files difficult
  • Content organization is difficult to manage with cloud storage services like Google Drive and OneDrive.
  • It isn't easy to manage access control and set up a workflow for uploading files into a shared drive in the Cloud. It's up to each individual to move their digital assets to the appropriate folder. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen, and files can easily be misplaced.
  • Similarly, when an employee leaves an organization that uses Google Drive or OneDrive , all the digital assets stored in them might be deleted (in case of account deletion). It can result in the loss of important files.

Using such cloud storage services is good for individual use, but when it comes to managing media assets at scale for organizations, digital asset management software is your best bet. DAM software offers many benefits over Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

Should you use USB flash drives to share large files instead?

USB flash drives, while portable, often have limited storage capacity compared to cloud storage solutions. They are also susceptible to physical damage or loss, jeopardizing the security and accessibility of the files they contain. The potential for data loss due to hardware failure or misplacement makes USB drives less reliable for critical file sharing.

In the era of Cloud services, relying on USB drives represents an outdated approach to file sharing, especially when the market offers more sophisticated and efficient solutions like digital asset management software that aligns with your need for accessibility, collaboration, and security.

Solution 2: Use the ImageKit DAM platform to share large media files

The benefits of a DAM platform don’t end with file compression. Design and marketing teams can use it to share large media files within themselves and with external agencies through sharing links. Since DAM systems enable users to share and access large files through a browser-based interface, recipients can view or download files quickly and securely from anywhere with an internet connection.

DAM systems like ImageKit take it one notch above by offering powerful collaboration features like Media Collection. This particular feature lets you create a collection of assets before sharing them with others. You can also effortlessly control who has access to each collection and what actions they can perform.

And that’s not even the best part. The assets are accessible only in the Media Collection and not duplicated in your repository.

Here is a scenario that showcases the usefulness of ImageKit’s Media Collection feature while sharing assets.

Imagine you are the owner of an E-commerce company. You have recently partnered with a marketing agency to handle your social media post creation. They have asked you to share your company logo, brand-related video files and images, and all the previous social media assets. Without ImageKit, you will be searching for all these assets one by one, duplicating them into a new folder, and sharing the folder with the agency via a cloud storage service. The marketing agency, in turn, emails the newly created social posts one by one for you to post on your social account.

But with ImageKit, this entire process becomes seamless. You first create a collection called ‘Brand’ and add all your brand-related assets to it. You then create an ImageKit account for this agency and give Viewer access to the ‘Brand’ collection. They can download the contents of this collection anytime by logging on to their ImageKit account.

Next, create another collection called “Deliverables” and give the agency Contribution access. This is where they will upload their deliverables once completed. You, on the other hand, can pick up the assets directly from this collection and post them on your social media account without the need for additional download or upload.

You also have the option to share assets and media collections with people who are not part of your ImageKit account by using public links. These shareable download links provide restricted, view-only access to your assets and media collections. Users who access them through public links won't be able to make edits or deletions. Additionally, you can enhance the security of these shared links by password-protecting them and setting expiration dates.

Solution 3: Use FTP to share large media files

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is another widely used solution for sharing large files within and outside organizational boundaries. FTP can efficiently transmit large files irrespective of the file size. It also has additional useful features such as scheduled transfers, queue operations, and simultaneous handling of multiple files.

But, FTP is useful only if you are sharing files with a trusted partner. Some of the popular FTP service providers include FileZilla, WinSCP, Cyberduck, and CuteFTP.

Why should you not use FTP for file sharing?

Despite its merits, FTP comes with several notable drawbacks. For starters, security is a big concern in FTP. Standard FTP does not come with built-in encryption. Without encryption, your data is exposed during transmission, making it susceptible to unauthorized access. Secondly, FTP relies on username and password authentication, and these credentials are transmitted in clear text. If intercepted, hackers can easily obtain login information, potentially leading to unauthorized access to your files. If you are dealing with sensitive data, using FTP to share large files might not be a great choice.

FTP is also susceptible to connectivity issues. In scenarios where time is of the essence, the potential disruptions to file transfers due to internet downtime can pose significant challenges. Finally, the setup process of FTP demands a level of technical proficiency and time investment, making it unsuitable for some businesses.

For individuals seeking a secure, collaborative, and user-friendly alternative, a DAM platform could prove more efficient.

Solution 4: Using VPN to share large media files

Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be used to transfer large media files across the globe. VPNs employ strong encryption protocols to ensure that files are securely transmitted over the internet. VPNs also mask your IP address, preserving your anonymity during file sharing. It protects the sender's identity and also adds a layer of privacy to the entire transaction.

Drawbacks of using VPN for file sharing

Despite the advanced security capabilities offered by VPN, it is not the optimal choice for transferring large media files due to two reasons. Firstly, transferring files of large sizes will negatively affect the VPN connection speed. So, a VPN is not a good choice if you are looking to transfer files quickly. Secondly, there's no assurance that your files will remain intact upon reaching their destination. Lack of reliability is a big concern with VPNs.

Solution 5: Sharing the large files on messaging apps like Slack

Slack, the communication platform, facilitates direct file-sharing or via integration with services like Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox, or Box. With Slack, you can transfer files up to 1GB. The ability to incorporate feedback and instructions directly makes it a great choice for remote teams.

Why should you use Slack for file sharing (and when should you not)?

Slack proves invaluable for businesses and freelancers seeking swift and uncomplicated collaborative marketing processes. Pick Slack when immediate collaboration and communication are essential for your team's workflow.

However, a dedicated file-sharing platform like DAM may be more suitable if your file-sharing needs involve intricate access control and permission structures. Also, for scenarios where efficient search and retrieval of files are critical, especially in a growing volume of shared content, DAMs with advanced search functionalities may be more appropriate than Slack.

Solution 6: Using WeTransfer to share large media files

WeTransfer is an online file-sharing platform that simplifies transferring large files between users. You can send files up to 2GB without the need for registration. To use WeTransfer, you only need to provide your email to create a free account, add a title and message, and then initiate the file transfer. WeTransfer generates a link to share with the recipient, allowing them to download the file directly from the platform. WeTransfer is an ideal choice when simplicity and user-friendliness are top priorities for you. However, its advantages end there.

Drawbacks of using WeTransfer for large file sharing

WeTransfer is not a good choice for media files that are sensitive or confidential. The platform is not particularly known for offering advanced security features. Also, WeTransfer is primarily designed for one-time file transfers.

If you're looking for a platform that supports ongoing collaboration and looking for features like versioning and access controls, a tool like DAM could be a better choice. If you are a business with frequent and large-scale file-sharing needs, you can avoid tools like WeTransfer and switch to DAM.

Parting thoughts

Regardless of the size of your files, there's a suitable solution to assist you in sending them. Your choice of a file transfer service depends on your needs. But avoid being constrained by file limits set by your email provider or settle for unsafe solutions like FTP.

Choose a DAM software like ImageKit that not only meets your needs for a secure and collaborative file-sharing tool but also offers several advanced features to make the file-sharing process as seamless as possible. Sign up today for the free trial. It’s free until you are ready to upgrade.