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

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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 OnlyAnonymous OR Registered bothRequires Registration
File DropperDropsend logoBayfilesBayfilesMegaMega
FileCartonFileCartonPastelinkpastelinkMediafireMediafire
AnonfilesanonfilesGettgt.ttKicksendkicksend2
WeTransferwetransferPutlockerPutlocker
SendSpaceSendspace
Drop.mxDropmx
ZippyshareZippyShare
JumpshareJumpshare logo
MinusMinus

 

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-mited5-GIGS2-GIGS1-GIG500-MEG300-MEG250-MEG200-MEG150-MEG100-MEG15-MEG
1. MegaMegaReg (*)
2. File DropperDropsend logoAnon
3. BayfilesBayfilesAnon / Reg
4. PastelinkpastelinkRegAnon
5. Gettgt.ttReg (**)Anon
6. PutlockerPutlockerAnon / Reg
7. FileCartonFileCartonAnon
8. AnonfilesanonfilesAnon
9. SendSpaceSendspaceAnon / Reg
10. Drop.mxDropmxAnon / Reg
11. ZippyshareZippyShareAnon / Reg (***)
12. MediafireMediafireReg
13. Kicksendkicksend2Reg
14. WeTransferwetransferAnon
15. JumpshareJumpshare logoAnon / Reg
16. MinusMinusAnon / 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 theinfo1 Week2 Weeks1 Month2 MonthsForever if active at least onceForever
1. MegaMegaReg
2. File DropperDropsend logoAnon (once per month)
3. BayfilesBayfilesAnon / Reg (once per month)
4. PastelinkpastelinkAnon / Reg
5. Gettgt.ttAnonReg (once per month)
6. PutlockerPutlockerAnon / Reg (once every 2 WEEKs)
7. FileCartonFileCartonAnon
8. AnonfilesanonfilesAnon
9. SendSpaceSendspaceAnon / Reg (once per month)
10. Drop.mxDropmxAnon / Reg
11. ZippyshareZippyShareAnon / Reg (once per month)
12. MediafireMediafireReg (*)
13. Kicksendkicksend2Reg
14. WeTransferwetransferAnon
15. JumpshareJumpshare logoAnonReg
16. MinusMinusAnon / 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 adsReasonable AdsAggressive AdsInsane Ads
1. MegaMegaNo ads
2. File DropperDropsend logoReasonable Ads
3. BayfilesBayfilesInsane Ads
4. PastelinkpastelinkNo ads
5. Gettgt.ttNo ads
6. PutlockerPutlockerAggressive Ads
7. FileCartonFileCartonAggressive Ads
8. AnonfilesanonfilesReasonable Ads
9. SendSpaceSendspaceAggressive Ads
10. Drop.mxDropmxNo ads
11. ZippyshareZippyShareAggressive Ads
12. MediafireMediafireAggressive Ads
13. Kicksendkicksend2No ads
14. WeTransferwetransferNo ads
15. JumpshareJumpshare logoNo ads
16. MinusMinusNo 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.

DesktopMobileBrowser ExtensionsAPI
1. MegaMegaNo desktop app; but offers browser support for resuming downloads and uploads.API access
2. File DropperDropsend logo
3. BayfilesBayfilesAPI access
4. PastelinkpastelinkWindows; MaciOS
5. Gettgt.ttChrome ; Gmail extensions
6. PutlockerPutlockerAndroid
7. FileCartonFileCarton
8. Anonfilesanonfiles
9. SendSpaceSendspaceWindows; Mac; LinuxAnrdoid; iOSAPI access
10. Drop.mxDropmx
11. ZippyshareZippyShare
12. MediafireMediafireWindows; Mac; LinuxAnrdoid; iOSAPI access
13. Kicksendkicksend2Anrdoid; iOSExtensions for all browsers
14. WeTransferwetransfer
15. JumpshareJumpshare logo
16. MinusMinusWindows; MacAnrdoid; iOSChrome; Firefox extensions; and a Bookmarklet for all browsersAPI 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.

ImagesVideoAudioPDFOffice FilesOther filetypes
1. MegaMega
2. File DropperDropsend logo
3. BayfilesBayfiles
4. Pastelinkpastelink
5. Gettgt.ttYesYesYes
6. PutlockerPutlockerYesYesYes
7. FileCartonFileCarton
8. Anonfilesanonfiles
9. SendSpaceSendspace
10. Drop.mxDropmxYesYes
11. ZippyshareZippyShareYesPlayer didn't work when we tested it.Player didn't work when we tested it.
12. MediafireMediafireYesYesWord; PowerPoint; Exel
13. Kicksendkicksend2Yes
14. WeTransferwetransfer
15. JumpshareJumpshare logoYesYesYesWord; PowerPoint; Exelebooks; as well as many others
16. MinusMinusYesYesYesPromised '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. MegaMega Promises extreme privacy; file encryption. Free online storage: 50 Gigs from the get-go
2. File DropperDropsend logoThey promise high speed downloads.
3. BayfilesBayfiles
4. Pastelinkpastelink
5. Gettgt.tt2 Gig free online storage (makes the service less attractive)
6. PutlockerPutlocker
7. FileCartonFileCarton
8. AnonfilesanonfilesAllows hotlinking and unlimited bandwidth.
9. SendSpaceSendspace
10. Drop.mxDropmx
11. ZippyshareZippyShareAutomatic file splitting – in case of file size exceeding 200MB.
12. MediafireMediafire50 Gig free online storage from the get-go.
13. Kicksendkicksend2Geared towards photo sharing primarily.
14. WeTransferwetransfer
15. JumpshareJumpshare logo
16. MinusMinus50 Gig free online storage from the get-go Excels as a photo sharing platform.

 

10. Links:

1. MegaDropsend logo9. SendspaceSendspace
2. File DropperDropsend logo10. Drop.mxDropmx
3. BayfilesBayfiles11. ZippyshareZippyShare
4. Pastelinkpastelink12. MediafireMediafire
5. Gettgt.tt13. Kicksendkicksend2
6. PutlockerPutlocker14. WeTransferwetransfer
7. FileCartonFileCarton15. JumpshareJumpshare logo
8. Anonfilesanonfiles16. MinusMinus

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