Email Attachments, is bigger always better?

Let’s get right down to it. Email is not a luxury. It’s not something that you have a choice about. It’s not even an option. More business will get transacted today by email than by phone and postal mail combined.

No one ever wants to miss an important email. So like most things, bigger is better, right?

Well… not always.

Read on if you want to understand why you didn’t get that big email you were waiting for.

The History

Let’s throw in a little background for a history lesson.

When email was first invented, it was by uber smart guys sitting in a computer Bat-cave entering commands line by line on a monochrome monitor. They knew shell commands and how to format an SMTP transaction. Hit enter and off a message went to another uber bright guy in another Bat-cave across the campus.

Fast forward to today when almost every person on the earth communicates with beautifully written email interfaces that populate email addresses and format the SMTP transaction.

Along comes the humble email attachment. Not only can you send a message, but  now you can include a file along with your text!  And it’s all almost instantaneous. Who wouldn’t like that?

The Problem

So where does the problem come in? Setting up email servers became commonplace. Any organization or individual can set up an email system and they only have to adhere to loose rules – RFCs. Those rules make no stipulations what size email is accepted, or transmitted. 

Each provider chooses their own limits.

Where were we again? Oh yes, everyone wants attachments. Did you know that when you send an attachment it is converted into that same protocol used by those uber smart guys in there Bat-cave.  The process of handling attachments is messy and inflates them roughly 33%. When you send a 20 MB attachment, it becomes a 26 MB email.

Because of inflation, loose server guidelines, and an email protocol that has seen little change in 30 years, email is being asked to do something it was never designed to do – transfer large amounts of data.

Bigger Attachments?

You still want to send and receive bigger attachments? Every email system sets their own rules for size. so even if your company can send 50 MB attachments, chances are that it will get rejected as too large by the recipient’s email system. The recipient is wondering why you did not send the file you promised, and you are wondering why they did not respond.

Why doesn’t everyone want larger attachments? Including email admins? Because they know that email was not designed from its inception to be used in this way.

Transferring large files has become popular so some email providers now offer alternate methods. At SmartCloud LLC we provide OwnCloud as a secure method of sharing large files quickly and reliably.


Email is a part of business today. As is transferring files between you and the people with which you do business. Finding the right way to send files can be as simple as contacting your administrator to find out what systems they have in place.

Bigger can be better, but remember you have options when transferring files.