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ARCHIVED: When should I use email to transfer files?

Using email to transfer files can sometimes simplify an exchange of information. If you want to send files via email, you should consider the following:

  • The kind of file you wish to transfer

  • The kind of email program you are using

  • The kind of email program the recipient is using

  • Any message size limits (Your mail system or the email client you use may impose size limits on your outgoing mail, and the person to whom you send the file may have size limits on incoming messages.)

Text documents (files that are plain ASCII text without any formatting) are relatively easy to transfer via email. Nearly all email programs can send and receive text documents. You can send these files in the body of the message since they don't require encoding.

If, on the other hand, you want to transfer a binary file, such as a Word or WordPerfect document, an image, or a program, you will have to send it as an attachment. (With some older mail programs, you may have to encode the file with uuencode and then send the encoded file in the body of the message.) Keep in mind, however, that for security reasons, more and more email programs are now blocking binary files because of their potential to spread viruses. Make sure the people you send binary files to have the ability to read them.

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Last modified on November 01, 2008.

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