E-mail was not designed to exchange large files. Many people attempt to send big files by e-mail – 10 or 20 or 30Mb of photos or PDFs or the like – and feel disappointed when the recipient never gets the message. Or perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end and had your mail delivery disrupted by a large attachment that pushes you over your storage limits or causes your mail program to time out.

There’s no perfect answer, but I recently learned about a free, easy service that may be important for you. YouSendIt.com assists in sending large files to anyone – and the files can be up to a gigabyte in size. Did I mention that it was free?

It’s the model of simplicity – go to the YouSendIt.com web site, enter the recipient’s e-mail address, and browse to the file you’re sending. The file will be uploaded to the YouSendIt servers and kept for seven days. The recipient will get an e-mail message with a link to the file. Done!

It’s free because there’s Google-style advertising on the screen when the file is downloaded. (Only time will tell if that’s a viable business model.)

There’s a couple of shortcomings for offices. You won’t have quite the same e-mail trail to show that you sent the file, although you do receive a confirmation that a message was sent. More importantly, there’s no way to be completely confident that the file will be secure and private, at the level that a business or law firm might demand – although YouSendIt says all the right words in their service guarantee.

For most purposes, though, this is a great find! Keep the attachments out of the mail system, keep your Outlook folders to a reasonable size, keep from overwhelming your recipients – it’s a win for everyone.

(When you try it, make sure you leave the browser window open after you begin uploading a file. If you navigate away or close the window, the file won’t be uploaded successfully.)