Send Big Files Using Email

by Juan Martin Palomo DDS, MSD

Have you ever sent an email with pictures or radiographs attached only to see it returned with a message notifying you that the file exceeded the size limit? This happens because most email services have an attachment limit, and lately it seems that most of them agree that 25MB is it.  With the use of high resolution images, videos, and CBCT files (DICOM), this limit can be passed very easily. Fortunately there are options.

One way to transmit big files over the Internet is to share the file on a virtual drive (cloud) and provide the recipient with access to it. Services like Dropbox and Google Drive provide for this. If this is only one time transaction however and you want to keep it as easy as possible, there are several websites you can use to send large files directly to your recipient’s mailbox.  The web is filled with such options, usually free up to a certain size, and with a charge for really large files or storage capabilities (a common sales model called “Freemium”).  Some of the most popular, with their current free size limit, are: mailbigfile (2GB), largefilesasap (2GB), dropsend (2G), transferbigfiles (100MB), and hightail (former yousendit, 50MB).  There are many others, and most of them would allow the transfer directly from the browser without the need to install any program.  But as anything that is free, make sure you read the privacy terms, and that you use an encrypted option if transferring patient information.
At the same time that you transmit your file to the third-party site, notify your recipient in a separate email that you sent them a file and which program you used.  Otherwise the recipient may not recognize the company from where it arrives and think it is spam.  The recipient will receive an email from the file service which contains a message from you and a link which will allow the download of your files directly to the recipient’s computer.  Usually the information stays available for 10 or 20 days depending on the company, for the free transfers.  After this period expires, the files cannot be downloaded anymore.
Some programs limit the number of files that you can send.  A way out of this limitation is to place all files inside a folder and then compress the folder.  This will not only reduce its size, but also will turn the folder into a file, which is easier to select and transfer, since it only needs to be done once. Transmitting patients’ information via the Internet is a hot topic right now and one which the AAO Committee on Technology is currently exploring. Stay tuned to this blog and the main AAO website for more information.

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