Joho the BlogWhy sending large attachments sucks, but we'll keep doing it anyway - Joho the Blog

Why sending large attachments sucks, but we’ll keep doing it anyway

The Google Operating System blog (independent of Google) has a useful post explaining why it’s a bad idea to send large attachments, even though Google now lets you attach files up to 25MB in size.

The reasons the post gives have to do with how inefficient attachments are for the system: They get expanded and require multiple uncached downloads. But, those reasons won’t carry a lot of water for people who just want to send their 25MB Powerpoint presentation to 35 people who simply have to see it. (Mea culpa. Except these days it’d be Keynote for me … which seems to make much larger files than Powerpoint.) Until we come up with an easier way to send around files — or a way that adds enough other benefits — we’re going to be wrapping our attachment anvils in brown paper and twine, sticking stamps on them, and sending them through the emails just like God and Google intended.

8 Responses to “Why sending large attachments sucks, but we’ll keep doing it anyway”

  1. I had a 6MB song I had written that I wanted to distribute to 5-10 people. I uploaded it to my MobileMe iDisk and then e-mailed the link provided — very easy. I also have a free account from — same deal. Both are accessible from my iPhone — I can listen to the song anywhere from the iDisk app.

  2. I use dropbox and (in theory) SpiderOak for the same purposes. I also FTP stuff to my site and give people the url. But in general and for most of us, email is the truck of choice.

  3. I haven’t thought this through to find the obvious flaws, but perhaps Google should offer a Gmail option that implies “when sending, replace attachments with links to cached storage.” I save *everything* I send or receive, which is why Google is storing many gigabytes of old useless attachments for me. If they’re storing multiple copies for me, you and a handful of others, they could save themselves a lot of storage expense.

  4. About maybe 7 yrs ago, I was involved in a start-up that didn’t start up. It was going to automatically put attachments onto a server and insert a link into the email. Then it was going to provide all sorts of services on the server for the owner of the attachments and for the workgroups/social groups to whom the attachments had been sent.

    Google is in a great position to do this now, just as you suggest Doug.

  5. well, it’s google’s own fault…

    they could easily let us have a gadget that would upload the file to their servers and magically paste the attachment link to the email. (which is what i do through dropbox anyway)

    this alone would cut down the processor and data strain they face at the moment. Plus, no more messages saying “user’s mailbox is full”.

  6. Good post! As long as I can send them I don’t have anything to blame google for, they’re still my top choice for searching and sending emails.

  7. Just use It’s free, private, and nobody else is gonna find it. Unless it’s confidential. In that case, why are you making copies that the server never erases?

  8. Have a friend that has his gmail account full. So that ‘you’ll never have to delete antoher mail’ doesn’t really stands for him.

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