Uploading Videos During COVID-19

Suddenly, everyone wants to shift GBs of data.

COVID-19 Preamble

I’ve got a bunch of technical posts to help people during COVID-19. Click that link to see all of them.


COVID-19 has meant that anyone who wants to communicate in person must now resort to video. Wenty Anglican is doing pre-recorded videos of meetings, which we agree to watch at around the same time as our regular Sunday meetings. Other churches and organisations are live streaming. And more and more individuals are doing video calls (often with Zoom) in place of face-to-face meetings.

For those pre-recording, we suddenly find ourselves needing to shift video files that are in the hundreds of MBs to GBs.

So, how do you do it?

File Sync Apps (easy)

The easiest way is to sign up for a file sync app. These include apps like DropBox, Google Drive and OneDrive. And, if you use a Mac, iCloud is built right into your device. Odds are, you already have one of those on your computer for work, school or personal use.

In any case, they all have a free tier that includes a few GB of storage. And that’s all you need to send that 10 minute video.

So pick one and sign up!

I tend to use OneDrive most of the time (because it comes bundled with my Office365 Microsoft365 subscription). But all the others have a similar concept. Here are instructions for DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive and iCloud.

Basically, you upload your video to the cloud, then create a “magic link” that lets your friend download it.

On Windows

OneDrive is integrated right into Windows (for better or worse). So, open your OneDrive folder.

Search for OneDrive

Create a new folder and copy your video there.

There will be a little “synchronising” icon against your file while it uploads to Microsoft’s server. When it’s done, it will be a green tick.

This part might take a while if you have a slow Internet connection. Actually, it takes a few minutes even if you have a fast connection. You don’t have to wait for the green tick though, you can follow these instructions while it’s uploading.

These are just the videos I've shared for church

Right click in a blank space and select “Share”.

Right Click -> Share

This opens the “Send Link” pop-up.

Sharing Options, change Edit

I always change the link from “editable” to “view only”. And put an expiry date in - so it’s fire and forget. But I don’t bother with a password - access to the magic link is all you need.

(If you do include a password, remember to send it via SMS and email the link. Sending both by email doesn’t actually help).

Sharing Options: no editing, expiry, no password

Then click the Copy Link button.

This creates a 'Magic Link'

After a moment, you’ll have a magic link that you can copy into an email.

This is my 'Magic Link'

And here’s an email.

This is my 'Magic Link', in an email

And that’s about it!

When your friend clicks the link, they’ll see something like this.

What your friend sees

And from there they can watch or download the video.

On Other Devices

You can accomplish much the same thing on iDevices, Android phones / tablets and any device with a web browser. Whichever is easiest for you.

Just remember to plug your phone in while you upload, because it will take a while. And, if you’re using LTE / 4G / mobile data, keep an eye on your usage - videos a big.

(It’s a bit more of a pain for me to get screenshots from my Android phone. So no pics here. Sorry).

Remember, if you’re uploading directly from your phone (which is the most video enabled device most of us have) you’ll need to upload or “share” to OneDrive / DropBox / Google Drive first. Then you share again with your friend (with the magic link).

DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive and iCloud all offer to upload all photos & video you take automatically. That works too. Just be careful you don’t share everything with your friend; just the one file or copy it to another folder.

File Hosting Services (a bit harder)

This is pretty similar to Sync Apps, except you upload to the cloud via a web browser. Really, the only difference between “sync” and “file hosting” is there’s a sync app running on your device, and file hosting must use a web browser.

Wikipedia has a list if you want to shop around

In this space Mega is probably the most famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view). And they offer 15GB of free storage, which is the largest of all the hosting services out there.

They have a page walking you though sharing a “magic link”. It even looks like they have expiring links, although it’s a paid feature.

File Sharing Apps (tricky)

This is a bit trickier, but it cuts out the “cloud” (aka “someone else’s computer”). Letting you stream your files directly from your computer to your friend.

Important: both your computer and your friend’s must be on and connected to the Internet at the same time for this one to work. If you own a NAS device or run a server that’s always on, you may be able to install these apps there.

There are four options I can recommend if you want to try this out:

  • BitTorrent has been around for ages, but does a good job of transferring large files. Life Hacker has a guide.
  • Resilio Sync is BitTorrent trying to be DropBox. It has a friendly app which automatically shares files, but uses something like BitTorrent under the hood. I think it costs money these days.
  • SyncThing is a free & open source clone of Resilio. It’s definitely a bit trickier to use, but has the benefit of being free. I use it as an internal DropBox between devices I own.
  • OwnCloud is basically a clone of DropBox that your run on your own server or NAS. It definitely needs a nerd / computer guy to set it up though.

Other than getting extra geek points, there are two reasons to use these:

  1. Privacy. Your data stays on your computers. Microsoft, Google and Apple never get to see it.
  2. Efficiency. Your data stays on your network. You don’t upload a 400MB video from your phone to the cloud (some data center) and then download it on your laptop across the room (an 800MB hit against your data cap).

Just remember they’re all much trickier to get going than DropBox.


There are plenty of apps and ways to move that 400MB video you just recorded to your friend’s computer. The easiest is your choice of file sync app - so if nothing else makes sense, just sign up for DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive or iCloud and move on.

If you’re a bit more technical, there are other options to consider.

Or, if you’re really desperate (and you’re allowed out of quarantine), you can resort to this:

When the Internet breaks, you can share USBs