How To Send Large Video Files

A guide to sending 20 GB+ deliveries
File-sizes are exploding and figuring out how to send large video files can seem like an almost impossible task.  This is a challenge for freelancers, hobbyist video editors, post-production houses, and broadcasters alike as workflows become more digital.

A recent 4K Shooters article points out “A single hour of 4K footage is a whopping 318 GBand those file sizes don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Video file sizes by resolution and codec

So how do you collaborate on projects with geographically distant partners or what do you do when client asks for some of their raw footage?

This guide was built to help you figure out how to deliver video files that are time critical and larger than 20 Gigabytes.

The good news is there are a few options to consider.

Methods: How to send large video files

Method 1: Accelerated UDP solutions

The leaders in the UDP accelerated transfer space are Aspera, Signiant, and File Catalyst. UDP solutions can be both point to point, which requires an on-premise server (Aspera Faspex), or through the cloud (Aspera Files) which is more like a SaaS offering.

The way this technology works is by creating a new protocol to transfer data over the internet that can send at very high speeds. Most online file transfer tools are built on top of the TCP protocol and the problem with TCP is that it was designed to share the internet fairly which means it is generally slow.  

By adding software to the senders machine and controlling the software on the receiving machine UDP solutions are able to override the default behavior of the internet and make sure you can send files as fast as your internet connection can handle.  

For example, with UDP solutions if you have a 1Gbps upload speed you will get close to 1 Gbps. Keep in mind, however, if you or your recipient does not have a fast upload/ download speed,  e.g. 20 Mbps or less (you can find out by having them run this test http://www.speedtest.net/)  you are still only capable of sending data at 20 Mbps, even with these tools.

Pros:

  • The fastest transfer speeds possible
  • Transfers done this way are reliable (auto-retry mechanisms, pause / resume functionality).

Cons:

  • Very expensive (Aspera Files starts at $0.75 per GB)
  • Requires technical expertise to use / install
  • UDP is not always accepted through firewalls and this solution requires software installation which can be difficult in restrictive IT environments
  • Complicated to use
  • They tend to take up all the bandwidth in your office and need to be throttled so you can still do things like have a skype call or browse the internet.

When delivering programs to broadcasters they will usually have one of the above mentioned brands as their preferred method of delivery. In that case they also usually cover the costs of the transfer so that’s a no-brainer.  But, if you’re not sending your files to a broadcaster or the broadcaster doesn’t have one of these tools in-house, you should consider the options below.

Aspera files user interface screenshot

Method 2: Shipping a hard drive

As Andrew Tanenbaum once said “never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.”.

You might not be shipping tapes anymore but the message still rings true for hard drives.  If you are trying to send a time-critical delivery of video files and you or your recipient does not have enough bandwidth the best option is to ship the data on a hard drive through a local courier or shipping provider like FedEx.

Pros:

  • You can ship a lot of data at once
  • Shipments can typically occur overnight or if local in hours
  • Shipping services are generally reliable
  • Shipping is inexpensive

Cons:

  • It’s inconvenient to manage
  • Scalability becomes an issue if you must ship frequently
  • Your data is in the hands of other people
  • International shipping can run into customs delays or shipping services can have delivery failures.
  • Recovering your hard drives can be a pain and buying new ones is expensive.
  • Shipping the same data to multiple recipients in different locations requires you to double the process.

Instead of doing the math yourself try out our handy calculator that helps you decide when you should ship a hard drive or if you can send files over the internet. This calculator uses the FedEx API to pull real time rates and time estimates based on your location inputs and compares it to sending via our service MASV.io:

File transfer calculator

Method 3: Cloud solutions

Another option is sending data via cloud transfer or cloud sharing services.

Everyone is familiar with services such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, One Drive, etc.  They are great at moving large libraries of data to the cloud and making that data available to others to download. They are also very affordable compared to the other solutions in this list. Dropbox for example will set you back around $11 USD per month and enable you to transfer up to 1 Terabyte of data with no file size limits.

The biggest issue with these services is when it comes to very large files (20 GB+). Cloud sharing tools were really designed for document, photo sharing, and compressed video not uncompressed video footage.  This means they are typically up to 10X slower than UDP-based or accelerated cloud options.  So, if your delivery is not time critical and you don’t care about spending 1 hour vs. 10 hours on a transfer this is the right type of tool to get the job done.

Another notable mention in this category is WeTransfer who has a beautifully designed product that is dead simple to use.  WeTransfer is focused on serving creatives and is very affordable.  The only issue for video editors is the file size limits.  WeTransfer lets you send deliveries under 2 GB for free and their paid version allows you to send up to 20 GB for the cost of around $10 USD per month.  This is a great option for deliveries that fit within those file size restrictions.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Reliable

Cons:

  • Inconsistent or slow performance
  • WeTransfer has file size limits
We transfer user interface

Method 4: Accelerated cloud solutions

Last but not least you could always use our service MASV.io (pronounced “massive”).  We built our tool specifically for video editors to be able to send very large files as fast as your internet connection can handle and at price comparable to shipping hard drives.

MASV is an accelerated cloud solution which means it doesn’t require software but is still able to send files very fast. We also have built our tool to ensure you can send as much data as you need to without any file size limits.

Billing is $0.15 USD per gigabyte in a pay-as-you-go model that includes 10 days of storage for your delivery.  We choose pay-as-you-go over subscription after talking with businesses in the media and entertainment space and them telling us that their business is usually project based and their monthly transfer volume tends to fluctuate drastically from month to month.  We feel this model best suits the industry and it also saves you from having to manage a set storage amount because there are no limits to how much data you can have stored with us at one time.

We made MASV fast by using our patented TCP acceleration technology in our cloud and the product is extremely easy to use requiring no technical expertise or hardware / software installation.  Usually in tests comparing MASV to UDP solutions like Aspera we typically can transfer at 90% of your internet connection’s speed which is roughly 10% slower than what you would see with UDP options.

This was an intentional tradeoff to make our service much easier to use and setup then our UDP counterparts. MASV still requires you to have a decent internet connection as we can’t send data faster than the amount of bandwidth you have purchased.

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Easy to implement and manage

Cons:

  • Slightly slower than UDP
  • Less reliable than UDP (having software makes it easier to make sure all the data is delivered although the browser still does a good job of this without it)
Fast video transfer service
There you have it, four methods for sending large video files.  If the last option interests you, MASV offers a 14-day free trial where you can try sending as much data as you would like during that trial period. Sign up below.

Happy Transferring!

This article was written by David Horne – VP of Product at MASV.io.  MASV is an accelerated file transfer service that specializes in sending large video files over the internet as a replacement to shipping hard drives with Fedex. This review is intended to fairly explain the different methods available for transferring large files and the considerations for each vendor in the space. We have tested and benchmarked each tool as well as conducted many surveys with videographers around the world to understand the pro’s and con’s of each solution which is shared with you above.

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