How to Send Huge Files to Clients

October 18, 2012
7 min read
7 min read

Thinking back to when my family bought their very first PC I always remember the salesman blowing my dad away with the fact that this machine had over 40GB of space on the hard drive and that we would “never be able to fill it”. Today, my phone has 64GB and I’m still having to delete stuff because there isn’t enough room! The truth is that as time goes on, files are getting bigger. In 1997, 40GB may well have been more than enough digital space to keep my dad happy, but in 1997 he didn’t have to worry about Diablo 3 and HD movies.

This machine had over 40GB of space on the hard drive and we would “never be able to fill it”

At Hunting Town we have to deliver huge editable PDF files to printers and clients for bill board advertisements and other epic ventures, and it’s often the case that we’re well outside of the 20MB limit for email! Thankfully the internet provides us with plenty of methods for getting these colossal files to where they need to go and the majority of them cost less than a postage stamp to use.

Transfer Services

There are tonnes of websites out there that allow you to send huge files to clients, often these websites work by allowing you to upload your work to their servers and then provide you with a link you can send to clients so that they can download the files are their end. Because this has become a really popular method for transferring files there have been plenty of websites that have ‘jumped on the bandwagon’ in hope of earning an easy dollar and end up providing a pretty shabby service. A famous example is MegaUpload.com. For a long time this website was used by a lot of professionals in the music industry and was endorsed by dozens of celebrities. However on the 19th of January 2012, the website was suddenly shut down and it’s owners arrested on suspicion of using the website to distribute copyrighted material. Thousands of professionals were suddenly cut off from their uploaded files and there was a huge petition to have public access restored. With that said, you should be able to understand why it pays to use reputable file transfer websites over those that you just stumble across that look good.

Your clients will have the files they need before you even get into work in the morning

A service that I’ve been using for some time now is YouSendIt. They allow you to upload your files to their servers and also email a client directly once the upload is completed. This means that you don’t have to sit there babysitting an upload bar waiting for a link you can then email to a client. This is a massive help when uploading huge files as it means that you can simply make it the last thing you set up before heading home, safe in the knowledge that your clients will have the files they need before you even get into work in the morning. Another big advantage of using YouSendIt is that they actually have a free version of their service that allows you to send files up to 50MB in size which is great for designers just starting out that may only have to cater for a few clients every month. For designers with a larger roster, or for design houses dealing with multiple projects at once there is a Pro version at $9.99 a month (you can try it out for 14 days for free though here) , which allows the sending of files up to a maximum size of 2GB, plus a further 5GB of online storage (which can be upgraded to a whopping 1TB for an extra $5 a month) for any files you may need access to later.

Cloud Networks

A cool solution I’ve started using more and more is to take advantage of cloud storage networks, these work similarly to transfer services, but focus more heavily on storing files rather than transferring them. These networks create a folder on your computer that syncs with a space on thier servers, so placing a file in one of these folders on your computer automatically means that the file will be available online and you’ll be able to access it from anywhere with an internet connection.

I can have mocks and proofs for several different clients all in one place and be able to send them individual links to download only the files relevant to them

Perhaps the best known company doing this is Dropbox, and they’re certainly the provider that I use the most. They have a free option where you can get 2GB worth of space, but there are loads of ways to boost this amount up to a maximum of 18GB by inviting friends and using new Dropbox features (I currently have 2.75GB worth of space and I’m not even aware of how I achieved it). What I particularly like about DropBox is that you can right click on the files in your DropBox folder and select an option called ‘get link‘. This allows to you receive a link to a particular file without giving access to anything else in your DropBox. Effectively this means that I can have mocks and proofs for several different clients all in one place and be able to send them individual links to download only the files relevant to them (you can also do this with any additional folders you create in your DropBox so clients can access multiple files at once). Another cool feature is that they have really great iPhone and Android apps, so it’s really simple to be able to access any files I may need at 3am for that client in Thailand.

Although I haven’t quite reached this stage yet, I do know of a couple of design companies out there who have started using DropBox for all of their active projects meaning that all of their employees can work from one central location eliminating the risk of any duplicate content. Once a project is completed and delivered, it’s taken out of the DropBox and saved onto a local hard drive for storage. They also have folders set up for all their stock images and other design resources so that their staff can grab any tool they need wherever they are in the world. DropBox allows it’s users to pay for extra storage in cases like these where even the full free 18GB wouldn’t be enough.

Another similar service to DropBox that I’ve only just started using is Google Drive. In works in very much the same way but offers 5GB worth of space for free right from the start. Obviously with it being Google it’s bound to be good, but I haven’t given it a thorough run through yet and so can’t really recommend it wholeheartedly.

Your Website

This can seem like a very professional method of sending work to a client

The last method you can use for sending huge files to clients is sitting right under your nose, and the best thing is that you’re probably already paying for it! Your company website is hosted on server just like the ones used for Dropbox and YouSendIt and unless you’re using it to house a tonne of video content, the chances are that you’re nowhere near your storage limit. Personally I use Blue Host as they offer ‘unlimited space’ for my website. Now in their terms and conditions it does note that their service is intended for websites and not storage and that “any such prohibited use of the Services will result in the termination of Subscriber’s account”. However it does go on to say that they class a large number of files as “in excess of 200,000” so whilst I certainly wouldn’t dream of using their hosting to house all of my client project and resources, I very much doubt that they would mind me uploading a hefty PDF temporarily whilst a client downloads it from a specific webpage on my site. Obviously I’d always recommend checking with your host first before you start anything like this as the last thing you want is for your site and all your emails to go down when you’re due to deliver an important project! If you do get permission however, then this can seem like a very professional method of sending work to a client as all the links you offer will be branded with your URL and you can create specific pages unique to every client which will certainly make them feel very special. However, this can end up being a lot of work so make sure you have a system in place and that you know what you’re doing.

If you have any other methods, or use any other services for sending files to clients that I haven’t listed here, then I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Photo Credit to  Urban Combing (Ultrastar175g)

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is owner of Hunting Town Design, a small design house based in Manchester UK specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration. Alex is also the founder and editor of The Design Range. Find out more about Alex on his website or follow him on twitter.


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