The best FREE ‘send large files’ services: 16 file hosting options compared

Services that can help you send large files are everywhere, it seems, but for some reason I find that I always blank out on which one is most appropriate to use when I actually need one. This post aims to provide an at-a-glance reference for ten of FREE file hosting services, most of which you’d heard about but some which you hopefully have not.

Specifically, we look at ad-hoc ‘file locker’ type services designed solely for the quick sharing of large files, and will exclude cloud storage services such as Dropbox and others like it, and exclude P2P services that send files from one computer straight to another. The services compared here are: Mega, File Dropper, Bayfiles, Pastelink, Gett, Putlocker, FileCarton, Anonfiles, Sendspace, Drop.mx, Zippyshare, Mediafire, Kicksend, WeTransfer, Jumpshare, and Minus. This article last updated: March 5th, 2012.

Send large files article

Note on the latest update of this article:

  • Free plans only:  the information below refers to the FREE Plans that are on offer. Paid plan details will differ.
  • Validity of information: is current as of the last update (see date above). The services may change or tweak their offerings. Please report any changes you encounter
  • Services listed: we’ve removed some of the services you may have seen in a previous incarnation of this article, and added others that we thought were more worthy.
  • Completely re-written, with a different approach: we’ve opted for a simpler approach in this update, listing the information about these services as is without too much editorializing.

The comparison criteria:

  1. Anonymous uploads: i.e. whether registration is a requirement
  2. Max file Sizes allowed: “I want a service that lets me send the largest files possible”
  3. File Availability: “how long can I (or others) access my files?”
  4. Waiting period before onset of download: as well as for successive file downloads.
  5. Ads: many are ad free, while others bombard the use
  6. Apps: whether you can upload via a desktop app, access via mobile apps, etc.
  7. File previews: “I want to be able to view images, videos, audio files, PDFs, Office docs, etc… on the web page itself without downloading”.
  8. Sends per month: “I want to be able to send files frequently”
  9. Special features: some of these services has quirky features that are worth mentioning
  10. Links: to each of the services

We did not consider the amount of online storage on offer for  in the comparison, as Cloud services like Dropbox are more appropriate for that. Also we did not consider peer-to-peer file sharing services.

1. Anonymous uploads

The table below shows which services require registration, which services provide optional registration and which services do away with registration altogether. Note that (a) by registration we mean FREE registration, and (b) the file upload sizes and other criteria may differ if you use the service anonymously vs. via registration (see tables below).

Anonymous Upload Only Anonymous OR Registered both Requires Registration
File Dropper Dropsend logo Bayfiles Bayfiles Mega Mega
FileCarton FileCarton Pastelink pastelink Mediafire Mediafire
Anonfiles anonfiles Gett gt.tt Kicksend kicksend2
WeTransfer wetransfer Putlocker Putlocker
SendSpace Sendspace
Drop.mx Dropmx
Zippyshare ZippyShare
Jumpshare Jumpshare logo
Minus Minus

 

2. Max file size allowed

We ranked the services by size upload limits with or without registration. Anon = anonymous use; Reg = using a free account.

Unli-mited 5-GIGS 2-GIGS 1-GIG 500-MEG 300-MEG 250-MEG 200-MEG 150-MEG 100-MEG 15-MEG
1. Mega Mega Reg (*)
2. File Dropper Dropsend logo Anon
3. Bayfiles Bayfiles Anon / Reg
4. Pastelink pastelink Reg Anon
5. Gett gt.tt Reg (**) Anon
6. Putlocker Putlocker Anon / Reg
7. FileCarton FileCarton Anon
8. Anonfiles anonfiles Anon
9. SendSpace Sendspace Anon / Reg
10. Drop.mx Dropmx Anon / Reg
11. Zippyshare ZippyShare Anon / Reg (***)
12. Mediafire Mediafire Reg
13. Kicksend kicksend2 Reg
14. WeTransfer wetransfer Anon
15. Jumpshare Jumpshare logo Anon / Reg
16. Minus Minus Anon / Reg

 
(*) Mega did not have file size restrictions, but your browser might.
(**) Gett is limited by available online storage space, which is a mere 2 Gigs in the free version
(***) If your filesize exceeds the max filesize for Zippyshare, it purports to automatically split it into suitably sized chunks.

3. File Availability: how long can I (or others) access my files

The period may differ for files uploaded with or without registration. Anon = anonymous use; Reg = using a free account.

We could not find theinfo 1 Week 2 Weeks 1 Month 2 Months Forever if active at least once Forever
1. Mega Mega Reg
2. File Dropper Dropsend logo Anon (once per month)
3. Bayfiles Bayfiles Anon / Reg (once per month)
4. Pastelink pastelink Anon / Reg
5. Gett gt.tt Anon Reg (once per month)
6. Putlocker Putlocker Anon / Reg (once every 2 WEEKs)
7. FileCarton FileCarton Anon
8. Anonfiles anonfiles Anon
9. SendSpace Sendspace Anon / Reg (once per month)
10. Drop.mx Dropmx Anon / Reg
11. Zippyshare ZippyShare Anon / Reg (once per month)
12. Mediafire Mediafire Reg (*)
13. Kicksend kicksend2 Reg
14. WeTransfer wetransfer Anon
15. Jumpshare Jumpshare logo Anon Reg
16. Minus Minus Anon / Reg

 
(*) As long as you maintain an active Mediafire account. Which means to log in every once in a while (sorry they don’t specify the period). They will send several emails before de-activating an account, though.

4. Waiting period before onset of download

Strangely, none of the services mentioned has a waiting period after first use (and only one service makes you wait at all).

  • Period before download link appears: no wait time, except for Bayfiles (60 second wait).
  • Waiting period between one download and the next: no wait time for any. Zero.

5. Ads

Want downloads without ads (or with minimal ads?). You’re in luck, as many of these services offer ad-free downloads.

No ads Reasonable Ads Aggressive Ads Insane Ads
1. Mega Mega No ads
2. File Dropper Dropsend logo Reasonable Ads
3. Bayfiles Bayfiles Insane Ads
4. Pastelink pastelink No ads
5. Gett gt.tt No ads
6. Putlocker Putlocker Aggressive Ads
7. FileCarton FileCarton Aggressive Ads
8. Anonfiles anonfiles Reasonable Ads
9. SendSpace Sendspace Aggressive Ads
10. Drop.mx Dropmx No ads
11. Zippyshare ZippyShare Aggressive Ads
12. Mediafire Mediafire Aggressive Ads
13. Kicksend kicksend2 No ads
14. WeTransfer wetransfer No ads
15. Jumpshare Jumpshare logo No ads
16. Minus Minus No ads

 

6. Apps: desktop clients, mobile apps, browser extensions, and API access

Desktop apps will typically allow you to pause and resume uploads, while mobile apps allow you to access your files on the go. API access means that a developer can build their own app to access the service.

Desktop Mobile Browser Extensions API
1. Mega Mega No desktop app; but offers browser support for resuming downloads and uploads. API access
2. File Dropper Dropsend logo
3. Bayfiles Bayfiles API access
4. Pastelink pastelink Windows; Mac iOS
5. Gett gt.tt Chrome ; Gmail extensions
6. Putlocker Putlocker Android
7. FileCarton FileCarton
8. Anonfiles anonfiles
9. SendSpace Sendspace Windows; Mac; Linux Anrdoid; iOS API access
10. Drop.mx Dropmx
11. Zippyshare ZippyShare
12. Mediafire Mediafire Windows; Mac; Linux Anrdoid; iOS API access
13. Kicksend kicksend2 Anrdoid; iOS Extensions for all browsers
14. WeTransfer wetransfer
15. Jumpshare Jumpshare logo
16. Minus Minus Windows; Mac Anrdoid; iOS Chrome; Firefox extensions; and a Bookmarklet for all browsers API access

 

7. Ability to view files on the page without downloading

Especially useful for online image galleries, but also for other document and media files.

Images Video Audio PDF Office Files Other filetypes
1. Mega Mega
2. File Dropper Dropsend logo
3. Bayfiles Bayfiles
4. Pastelink pastelink
5. Gett gt.tt Yes Yes Yes
6. Putlocker Putlocker Yes Yes Yes
7. FileCarton FileCarton
8. Anonfiles anonfiles
9. SendSpace Sendspace
10. Drop.mx Dropmx Yes Yes
11. Zippyshare ZippyShare Yes Player didn't work when we tested it. Player didn't work when we tested it.
12. Mediafire Mediafire Yes Yes Word; PowerPoint; Exel
13. Kicksend kicksend2 Yes
14. WeTransfer wetransfer
15. Jumpshare Jumpshare logo Yes Yes Yes Word; PowerPoint; Exel ebooks; as well as many others
16. Minus Minus Yes Yes Yes Promised 'soon'

 

8. Sends per month

All of the services allow for unlimited sends per month. We eliminated services that restrict sends per month from the list as of the latest update of this article.

9. Special Features

Noteworthy Info
1. Mega Mega Promises extreme privacy; file encryption. Free online storage: 50 Gigs from the get-go
2. File Dropper Dropsend logo They promise high speed downloads.
3. Bayfiles Bayfiles
4. Pastelink pastelink
5. Gett gt.tt 2 Gig free online storage (makes the service less attractive)
6. Putlocker Putlocker
7. FileCarton FileCarton
8. Anonfiles anonfiles Allows hotlinking and unlimited bandwidth.
9. SendSpace Sendspace
10. Drop.mx Dropmx
11. Zippyshare ZippyShare Automatic file splitting – in case of file size exceeding 200MB.
12. Mediafire Mediafire 50 Gig free online storage from the get-go.
13. Kicksend kicksend2 Geared towards photo sharing primarily.
14. WeTransfer wetransfer
15. Jumpshare Jumpshare logo
16. Minus Minus 50 Gig free online storage from the get-go Excels as a photo sharing platform.

 

10. Links:

1. Mega Dropsend logo 9. Sendspace Sendspace
2. File Dropper Dropsend logo 10. Drop.mx Dropmx
3. Bayfiles Bayfiles 11. Zippyshare ZippyShare
4. Pastelink pastelink 12. Mediafire Mediafire
5. Gett gt.tt 13. Kicksend kicksend2
6. Putlocker Putlocker 14. WeTransfer wetransfer
7. FileCarton FileCarton 15. Jumpshare Jumpshare logo
8. Anonfiles anonfiles 16. Minus Minus

Any thoughts or comments? Is there a really special service that we missed? Please share in the comments section below.


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • http://www.zoniweb.com ZoNi

    I still prefer BayFiles.com :-)

    • Samer Kurdi

      Added Bayfiles to the comparison!

    • T Hudi

      Tried bayfiles.com, but that wasn’t working. It’s now bayfiles.net. I think they don’t display ads anymore. The terms of service imply the files are still available “forever” as long as a download is completed every 30 days.

  • pjj

    For actual *sending* files I use sendspace.com. Even though file size is limited (300 MB), you can fill in recipient’s e-mail and they are automatically sent a download link, so it’s “upload and forget” kind of service. You can also fill in your e-mail and you get a delete link. No registration is necessary. Quick and easy.

    • Samer Kurdi

      Added SendSpace to the comparison!

  • http://www.zoniweb.com ZoNi

    @ pjj: Yes, sendspace.com is my second choice :-)

  • ecomm

    You could also tryout http://www.zippyshare.com

    Max. filesize 200 MB. Free without registration. At the moment 74 reliable servers. Fast up/downloads. Unlimited traffic (no limitations). No waiting time. Unlimited retention as long as a file is downloaded once a month, but i’ve noticed they often stay online even longer (±2 to 3 months).
    Mediafiles can be previewed/prelistened (with a waveform) before downloading. They can also be embeded on your own website.
    They offer an upload tool for the desktop pc to easily upload multiple files and share them.

    Since a lot of music is uploaded on Zippyshare, but they don’t offer a searchengine, the easiest way to search for files on Zippyshare is to use Google. Simply type (a part of) the artist/songname followed by site:zippyshare.com.

    • Samer Kurdi

      Zippyshare added to the comparison!

  • Krishna

    I prefer sendspace. Has not given me any problems.

  • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms
  • http://www.zoniweb.com ZoNi

    Also, http://www.putlocker.com/ is VERY fast for “free users” (plus, 1GB per file).

    • Samer Kurdi

      Added Putlocker to the comparison!

  • Aidan Romero

    There is another way to transfer big files over the internet. You can transfer big files with Binfer easily. Visit http://www.binfer.com for details

  • David

    Another option is https://anonfiles.com/

    Although not as Bayfiles, but it is worth a mention.

    • Samer Kurdi

      Added anonfiles to the list!

  • David

    Another honorable mention is http://pastelink.me/

    • Samer Kurdi

      Added Pastelink to the comparison!

  • http://filecarton.com Shannon

    I guess just to add to the list. http://FileCarton.com is really simple to use, its free & straight forward. No need to register which I like the most.

    • Samer Kurdi

      Added Filecarton to the list.

  • BioBob

    Thanks to all, such a nice resource to know about in detail !!

  • http://Drop.MX Zach

    Our service just launched and I know users will love sending files privately and accessing them on any device including mobile devices. We let you send and stream large drops so have quicker access times to your files.

    We also just published a blog post in response to the latest Instagram press release which detailed how they are going to use your personal images for their own profit.

    You can read about it here:

    http://drop.mx/blog/private-sharing-has-never-been-needed-more.php

    • Samer Kurdi

      Added DropMX to the list.

  • Mark

    I don’t know if I’m missing something or if File Dropper has changed their policy. But it don’t see a free plan anywhere except the free for 7 days and then $5 month thereafter. I just tried to upload a 50 mb zip file, which uploaded OK, but would not present a link to share. So I refreshed the browser, started over and uploaded the file again with the same result. The upload completes (reads 100%), but the box to “share link” does not become active and nothing happens when I click on it. I’ve emailed tech support but they said it would take 1 or 2 days to respond.

    BTW Samer and BC – this is an outstanding site. I’m sorry to hear about all the problems with Google, and also about the ding-dongs that have launched a DOS attack. Keep up the good work. This is a very worthwhile site with excellent information and softare reviews. I use the programs recommended on this site all the time. I’ll be donating to the cause soon.

    • Samer Kurdi

      @ Mark: sorry for the delay in replying. I am in the process of updating this post, and I had hoped I would post the update yesterday and respond to your comment at the same time.

      In any case, FileDropper does not offer a free plan, but will let you share anonymously without an account. I just tried to upload a file and was able to do so and get a share link without any problems. You will have to copy and paste the link to share it, although the issue you are facing may be unrelated, I am not really sure.

      Thanks for your kind words about the site :)

  • Fayazdo

    Thanks for the article.

    I’ve been using wikisend.com for years.
    Max. size of 100 MBytes and you may set the uploaded files’ lifetime yourself for 1 up to 90 days.
    Never encountered any problems.

  • ecomm

    @6. Zippyshare offers a tool for bulk uploading from the desktop (portable, no installation). Just drag/drop all files in the tool and upload. When finished, a .txt log-file with all the downloadlinks is created to use in an e-mail or on a forum.
    @7. Zippyshare Audio/Video preview works fine for me.
    @9. You can embed the links in ‘rich text’ html e-mails, on your website or in a status-update on Facebook.

    If there ever comes another update i would also recommend to include upload/download speed.
    Most services have some serious limitations on speed and it sometimes may take like an hour or so to download a file, where others take only a couple of minutes.

    Thx to keep us updated on this matter Samer! :-)

    • Samer Kurdi

      VERY good points. Thanks ecomm!

  • http://www.paleografie.tk Cerberus

    Wow, Samer, you are the best! This will same many people so much time. One suggestion: you might considered adding a short conclusion where you recommend one or two that are your favourite(s) based on the criteria you have used in your comparison.

  • Peter

    Are you sure the max file size is 100M for WeTransfer?
    WeTransfer allows to send up to 2GB.

    • Samer Kurdi

      Peter: you can send multiple files up to 2GB in total, but each file is a max of 100 megs.

      • Anonymous

        Really sure? I remember a friend of mine had to send an 8GB video and he cut it into 4 pieces of 2GB and send it to me successfully.

        • Samer Kurdi

          It seems you’re right. I just tried a 700 meg file and it proceeded to upload. Will edit above.

  • Mario

    Heard today about OziBox – 100Gb on a community cloud storage.

  • http://fcorpsoft.tk Fahmy Corporation (FREE Software)

    I usually use “TusFiles” or “ShareBeast” to Share My Files

  • brian

    Samer,

    Thanks so much for going to all the work to post this great summary.
    It sure will save some of us a lot of time when we next need such a service.
    I would also agree with Cerberus that your short evaluation would be especially helpful.

    Thanks

  • g…

    Dropcanvas is anon and has a 5gb limit. Works great.
    http://dropcanvas.com/

    • Peter

      Imo this one definitely deserves a place in the freewaregenius list

      • Samer Kurdi

        I agree. Will add it.

  • Krishna

    Thanks Samer. As always you do a great job when it comes to comparison.

  • http://www.zoniweb.blogspot.com ZoNi

    One more – seems interesting: http://hugefiles.net/

  • http://www.tenten71.com Sean Collins

    Been using and referring WeTransfer for a couple years now with no issues. Send 2 G’s at a time as often as you want to anyone and it’s available for 2 weeks. Don’t see why you would need it up longer.

  • bigpisces

    I started using Shared.com… they offer 1GB file size for uploading and sharing. Also, pretty easy to use and get around.

  • Crawlerbasher

    some great info here, which helped me find a site perfect for my needs.
    Thank you.

  • MountainKing7

    Great stuff man. I can imagine all the time taken up to research, compare and do the actual write-up. Extremely well done, laid out and simple to understand.

  • mark

    http://itrnsfr.com is amazing and very user friendly

  • przemo

    try files4download.com – for me is the best. Without limits and adverts.

  • dan

    i prefer http://www.forwardfiles.com – 3gb upload limit

  • WareFR

    Good job tyvm.

  • Darren

    Please add Gr8 Upload

  • Dan

    great selection here. http://www.forwardfiles.com

  • Kristen Stewart

    If cheap file sharing is considered then http://www.cloudat1.com is the best. It provide 100GB of space for $1 only. They also provides 1TB, 10 TB and 100TB online disk space at reasonable price. Its really good and affordable for small to large users.

  • http://www.internetreklamhizmeti.com/ WebHizmeti