Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Can I email myself a full length movie?

Question: Is it possible to email myself a full-length movie or video? That way, I wouldn’t have to move my external drive to my other PC physically. One of my PCs is the desktop running only Windows Vista. It’s a 32-bit PC. My other PC is a laptop with Windows 7 and it’s a 64-bit PC. If I can email my movies to myself, I won’t have to burn them on my desktop. I can open the email and copy and paste them to my external drive on my laptop PC and burn them to a disk from there. My email program is Microsoft Outlook 2010 and I don’t know if it has any length restrictions on size or content, which impedes my plan.

No, Microsoft Outlook 2010 is not going to have size restrictions on what you send. But there are two reasons why this plan will not work.

First, your ISP almost certainly has a limitation on the size of an email that you can send. Movies and full-length videos are huge and ISPs don’t like it when you email files that big. So, they’re probably not going to let you do it.

Second, you’re not going to want to do it that way anyway because what you’re talking about is using email, and that means uploading it (all) to your email provide, and then downloading it (all) to your other machine. Even on a fast internet connection that’ll take a lot of time.

There are better ways.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

What’s wrong with email?

If you think about it, email isn’t just something on your machine. It’s a service provided by your ISP or some other entity. When you email a file anywhere, that file is actually uploaded to an email server over your internet connection. If you then want to receive it on another machine, it’ll be copied back down your internet connection.


Email doesn’t work machine-to-machine, but rather, machine to server to machine, where that server is on the other side of your internet connection. So by suggesting that you use email, you’re actually proposing that you upload the file and then download it, just to transfer it to another machine.

Unless you’ve got a blazingly fast internet connection, it’s going to take forever!

What’s a better solution?

The right way to do this? I have two recommendations.

  1. What’s wrong with ejecting the external drive from one machine and putting it in another? This is a perfect scenario for doing exactly that. In other words, copy your huge file to your external drive or a thumb drive that’s big enough, then take that over to the other machine, attach it, and copy the file onto that machine.
  2. The other approach is to Use Windows Networking. Normally I don’t talk a lot about Windows Networking because it can be very difficult and problematic. With Windows 7, if you set up a Home group, then it can be easy to copy files from one machine to another over your internal network. That’s not limited by your internet speed, but the speed of your router and the computer’s network adapters. Regardless of your specific network speed it’s very likely to be much faster than your internet connection’s speed. The internet is not involved. Your external hard drive is not involved. You just set up your local networking so you can actually access a “share” on one machine from the other and you can then start copying files back and forth.

Unless your network is already set up I’d actually recommend the external drive solution. Unlike networking, it seems, it’s exceptionally simple to set up and get working.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

4 comments on “Can I email myself a full length movie?”

  1. Is it possible to link computers with a parallel cable for data tranmission? I seem to remember doing that with Dos6/Win3.1 years ago.

    • You know, I’m not sure. I know I still have a couple of the special cables for that down in my large collection of computer left-overs, but I’ve no idea if there’s any software to support that any more. Besides – what computers have parallel ports these days?

  2. I expect the inquiry is about sending video content via email to a REMOTE address – not just to a local computer. Use Outlook (Hotmail) send as an attached file. 10 mb loads in 30 sec. On receipt just plays as a file. I do not know max file size but I would expect large as it is a cloud operation Errol.

    • Of course the file can be sent using DropBox, SkyDrive or Google Docs etc. I’ve done that myself. I have unlimited data transfer and 50,000 Mb ADSL. Most people have limited bandwidth. A full length video is normally between 700 MB and 5 GB. That would use up a significant part of people’s monthly bandwidth allocation That’s a lot, especially when you can carry the drive into the next room. I understand that someone might not want to move their portable hard drive. You have to untangle all the wires to get to the power supply ;-). Now that you can get a high capacity thumb drive for pocket change, that is probably the easiest solution.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.