It’s a problem. You need to send a large file to a friend or colleague, but it’s too large for email, you don’t have access to an FTP server, or the recipient isn’t sufficiently savvy about usernames and passwords or firewalls to log in to your server. You could always resort to a CD-R sent via overnight delivery, but that’s expensive and just feels wrong in this day and age of Internet communications. What to do? There’s Creo Tokens, which creates and sends a tiny token file that a special Token Redeemer client can use to retrieve the file from your machine. But Tokens costs $50, and requiring your recipients to download and install client software is onerous, even when it’s free. (That said, Tokens could make a lot of sense if you want to run your own Token Server ($600 or $1,000, depending on capabilities) and maintain full control over the data streams.)
But for a low overhead solution, try YouSendIt. It’s a free Web service that’s about as simple as you could imagine. On the YouSendIt Web page, you fill in the recipient’s email address, click the Browse button to locate the file you want to send, optionally enter your email address and a message, and click the Send It button. The recipient then receives an email message containing a link that downloads the file. If you don’t want to reveal your recipient’s address to YouSendIt, just send the link to yourself and forward it manually with whatever additional text you’d like to add.
Files can be up to 1 GB in size, and YouSendIt scans all files for viruses (not being a virus-infected Windows user, I don’t know what happens if they discover a virus in something you send). Files remain available for 7 days and allow only a limited number of downloads to prevent abuse. The recipient can also click a link to delete the file after downloading. If you want secure transfers, you can switch to a version of the page that uses secure HTTP for both you and your recipient; of course, that assumes you trust YouSendIt in general. You can even put a link like the one below on your Web site that others can use to send you files via YouSendIt.
While writing about YouSendIt, I ran across a few other similar services, including LeapFile, SendThisFile, YouShareIt, and DropLoad. The first two required setting up accounts (most of which weren’t free); YouShareIt has been operating since 01-Jan-05 (now that’s longevity!) and appears to be an ad-supported clone of YouSendIt; and DropLoad is limited to files under 100 MB. So for most purposes, I think YouSendIt is all that’s necessary. Give it a try next time you need to send a file that’s too large for email.