Q: I’m trying to send a video file to a friend via email and she keeps telling me that she gets the message but not the attachment. What am I doing wrong? — Rhonda
A: Video files tend to be very large files that often exceed the file size limitations of most mail systems, resulting in the recipient getting the message with the attachment stripped out.
Both your mail system and your recipient’s mail system come into play and the lower limit between the two of you will be the maximum size you can send.
For instance, if you are using Gmail (which has a 25MB limit) and your friend’s part of a corporate Microsoft Exchange Server that has a 10MB limit, you can’t send files larger than her limit.
Every email system and email program has its own file size restrictions, so trying to figure out who has what limitation can be time consuming or downright impossible.
Even if there weren’t file size limitations, sending a video file as an attachment to someone via email is a bad idea for a number of reasons.
Since opening file attachments in general is considered to be risky behavior, don’t put your friends in a position of trying to figure out if your message is legit or not (remember, scammers can spoof your email address making any message appear to be from a friend).
Another reason to avoid this method is that it’s really inefficient; you have to wait for your mail system to upload the file and then your recipient has to wait for the file to download. If their connection is slow, you will clog up their email program while it attempts to download the huge file often making them think something is wrong with their email program.
Fortunately, there are a host of options that are more efficient and more reliable and the best part is that most of them are free.
Before you choose one of the following methods, it would be good for you to know how big the file you are trying to send is, so you can choose the best solution.
If you send large files infrequently and rarely to the same person, you can use a site such as http://TransferBigFiles.com which is essentially an online file transfer service.
The basic service is free and allows you to send one or many files as long as you don’t exceed 100MBs total (which can be less than 1 minute of HD video depending upon how you shot it). It also allows you to send the file(s) to as many as 20 recipients and the files are available for 5 days. One of the reasons I like this site is that it doesn’t require you to sign up for an account to send or receive the files and the file transfers are relatively quick.
If you need to send files larger than 100MBs, you can purchase credits that allow you to send files up to 2GBs that can be downloaded up to 100 times.
If you need to send really large files on a regular basis, you can sign up for their various plans that start at $5 per month.
Another option is Free.MailBigFile.com which allows you to send a single file up to 300MBs to a single recipient.
If you aren’t concerned about the speed of the upload and download, you can use SendThisFile.com to send files up to 2GBs for free, but understand that this free service throttles down the speeds to encourage you to upgrade to a pay package. This means, the larger the file, the more likely you or your recipient will be frustrated waiting for the file to transfer.
There are a number of slightly more complicated options you can consider, such as uploading the video to YouTube.com or Vimeo.com or if you need to collaborate privately on a regular basis with a group, setting up an account on services such as DropBox.com, Box.com. Google Drive (drive.google.com ) or Microsoft’s Sky Drive (skydrive.live.com) may make the most sense.
• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to email@example.com.