Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Emailing movies is very tempting, because it's simple. Unfortunately emailing movies and other large files often fails. We'll look at a couple of alternatives.

I made a movie with Windows Movie Maker from photos of my grand-daughter as a flower-girl at a wedding but try as I may when I try to email it I receive a 'Delivery Status Notification' that it has failed. I use Incredimail to send my emails and have tried exhausting their 'Help' support system but to no avail.

Movies are more and more popular, and with more and more people on broadband, it's actually becoming quite reasonable to start sharing movies over the internet.

There's still one problem, though.

Movies can be big ... really big.

In your case the first place I'd look is at that delivery status notification. Also called a "bounce" message, it should have included additional information as to why the message isn't being delivered.

My guess is that mailing a movie simply causes the email to be too large. Many email service providers have limits on just how large a single email message can be, and sending any large file as an attachment could easily exceed that limit. That limit could be imposed by your mail provider, or it could be imposed by your recipient's mail provider, or (less likely) some email transport in between.

"Many email service providers have limits on just how large a single email message can be, and sending any large file as an attachment could easily exceed that limit."

Your recipient may also have a limit on how much email they can accumulate. If your email causes their mailbox to become too full, your message may get bounced back to you as undeliverable.

So what can you do?

There are a couple of approaches.

Perhaps the easiest and most reliable might be to use one of the new video services such as Google video (video.google.com) or YouTube (www.youtube.com). Both of these allow you to upload video, and then share it by simply emailing a URL to your friends. As an added bonus, most videos are presented in formats that are as common as possible, so you don't have to worry about what kind of computer each of your family members has, and whether or not they'll support the video format you happened to use.

While these services are free, there is one down side: anyone can see your video.

The other approach, which works for all file types - not just videos - is to just upload them to web somewhere, and then email the URL.

Now, while that sounds very much like what we just considered with the free video services, it's going to require a little but more education on your part. It's a very simple concept, though. Here's what you'll need:

  • A web site to upload to. Many ISPs offer you some amount of web site space as part of your package and this is a great use for that. If you've ever seen URL's that look like http://www.some-big-isp.com/~accountname then you've seen someone with the user name "accountname", who uses "some-big-isp" as their ISP, using the web space that they've been allotted.

  • An FTP program. "FTP" stands for File Transfer Protocol, but all it is, really, is a program that is designed to copy files from one place to another. In your case, you'll be using it to copy files (your movie, perhaps) from your hard disk, to the web space provided by your ISP. There are several good ftp programs out there - FileZilla is one popular, and free, FTP program. WebDrive is a commercial program that I use that makes FTP connections "look like" another drive on your system, so that uploading a file via FTP works just like copying a file from one disk to another.

You'll need to configure your FTP program with the information from your ISP, telling you what server name to upload to, and how to log in. After uploading your file, you'll then need to determine the correct URL to send to your family members. For example, for my isp:

  • The server I upload to is "userftp.isp.com"

  • I login with my regular account name and password (typically this'll be the same as your email account provided by your ISP)

  • I upload to a folder called "web_docs"

  • Once uploaded, the files are visible to anyone in the folder "http://home.isp.com/~myusername". So if I uploaded "wedding.wmv", then the URL I would send people would be http://home.isp.com/~myusername/wedding.wmv".

This is just an example! The details will vary slightly depending on your ISP, but the concepts and the steps are very much the same.

There are many advantages to this uploading approach:

  • your email is very small - just a URL with your message - and hence much more likely to be delivered.

  • Your recipients only need to "suffer" through the download of the huge file if the choose to - in those cases where email works, many of your recipients may still be required to download the file even if they don't want to watch it.

  • You can remove or update the file when you choose to.

  • You have some limited control over who sees it - only those people you tell. And again, if it's ever a problem, you can remove it.

If you have additional needs, such as strict control over exactly who can see what it is you're uploading, these simple solutions may not be appropriate, or may need to be combined with other security or encryption steps. For the majority of people who are just wanting to share some photos or videos with family members around the internet, it's a convenient approach that's going to be much more reliable than email delivery.

Article C2706 - June 28, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

17 Comments
Dave
July 2, 2006 12:24 PM

Here's a page i came across with a list of video sites and some info on them. Hope it helps. http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=97890

AirOne
July 9, 2006 4:54 AM

For an overview of free online file storage possibilities see: http://www.jdempsey.com/2005/12/08/free-online-file-storagesending/

Rob Jones
January 16, 2007 10:50 AM

Some e-mail systems will not allow files with certain extensions through.

I correspond with someone whose e-mail system will not allow .wmv files through.

I send the file without the extension and have him rename it.

Casper Bailey
January 23, 2007 3:25 PM

You can't email the producers of this movie, advice needed:
http://loyalamericanms.tripod.com

allene
October 25, 2007 9:10 PM

How can I just email a message with ANY attachment? I can email texts, but nothing with an attachment! Oh PLease help me. Thanks

KJ Smith
April 19, 2008 6:14 PM

Leo,
if I test email a video and when I click on it it show a message
"did not match" whats up with that? I tried to email through gmail. It sent but wasnt able to link.

Technolive
December 5, 2008 1:05 AM

I agree emailing a movie is tempting but close to impossible. I found the coolest way to send uge files over email.

Otengo

This software is amazing. Upload and download does not stop if the internet connection is interrupted. You guys have to try it to believe it!

nacho
March 10, 2009 6:47 AM

Apeer is the solution you are looking for folks!! Allows you to send unlimited amount of files and sizes, and includes a player to view the videos, listen to music, view pdf and images.
Leo, it does exactly what you suggested, and it does it real time, so you can be connected to your friend and watch the video together!!!
Much better than email and ftp!!!

L
June 23, 2009 8:44 AM

You can download short videos to your picasa photo program on your computer, then simply upload it to your web album. You have the option of public, listed, or viewable only by password. You then click the share link and are able to instantly send the link to your email contacts. The only drawback is that if it is set to private, they must have a gmail account to view. This is all free. Try it out.

G.Zeogler
October 30, 2009 8:54 PM

why can't I edit my monies - before I had Vista, got rid of it and installed YP - now windows movie maker will not let me edit my movies - any ideas on which program I can download
thanks

Isabel
January 22, 2010 6:08 AM

The best service I've found for emailing large files is Tonsho. http://www.tonsho.com
I've used other file transfer services but I got sick of having to go to a special website and upload the files. Tonsho is way better cos you can just use your usual email program and it does the rest for you. It is way less hassle cos you don't have to think about how big your file is before you send it and whether you have to go and upload it. They send the link to your recipient too which is less hassle also. If you want an easy life, I'd give these guys a shot.

Judy Becker
March 8, 2010 11:45 AM

I emailed a movie that I made on windows movie maker and when i opened my email lots of the pictures and sound bytes were missing
Do you know why?

Manish M. Shah
March 18, 2010 6:58 PM

I would like to suggest File Apartment for this problem (http://www.fileapartment.com). Easy to use, up to 1 GB, no registration required or software to download, safe, and secure.

smartcookie
May 5, 2010 12:57 AM

Dont waste time uploading files to some untrusted service. Use Binfer to transfer large files directly and securely from your computer to your contacts computer. Drag and drop 1000's of files, auto resumes and the fastest transfers you can find. The site is http://www.binfer.com.

Mark J
April 26, 2011 11:56 PM

I personally use dropbox to send large files. It's great. www.dropbox.com.

Ayaz
January 15, 2012 11:16 AM

I like your site. Waiting for new articles.

Zamberi Otan
July 18, 2012 5:55 AM

Nice site and great content, definitely will bookmark this.
Thanks Leo.


Zamberi O,

www.photoshopbasic.com

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