The three recommended methods for sharing large files at the college are using the College file exchange, sharing files using OneDrive for Business or using the SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol). 

Sharing large files

File exchange

Note: This service will be retired on 30 November 2022 in favour of using OneDrive for business for sharing large files (up to 250GB) between internal and external collaborators.

The File Exchange is a service that makes it easy for you to move large files of up to 2GB, in and out of College. If you are a member of College, you can login with your College username and password and send files to anyone, whether they have an Imperial account or not.

If you are not a College member you can still send files to people at Imperial if you know their email address.

Files are automatically deleted from the File Exchange after 14 days.

Why use the File Exchange?

Most email services have a limit on the size of the file that can be sent or received, often between 5MB and 25MB. If this limit is breached, recipients may not receive attachments you send. The File Exchange email system allows outgoing and incoming attachments of up to 2GB.

If you need to send files larger than 2GB on a regular basis, contact the ICT Service Desk to discuss alternative options.


Drop-off files

To drop-off files, follow these steps:

  1. Go to File Exchange.
  2. Click Login (if you are a College member) or Drop-off (if you are not a College member).
  3. Click Drop-off.
  4. Do not change anything on the page entitled Information about the Sender and click Next.
  5. Ensure the Send email to recipients box is ticked.
  6. Click the green plus (+) under the heading To.
  7. Type the name of the person you are sending the file to in the Name field and his or her email address in the Email field. Add as many recipients as required.
  8. Click Add recipient.
  9. Type a short note to the recipients to describe the file you are sending and any additional information.
  10. Click Choose File to browse your computer and select a file (maximum file size is 2GB).
  11. Click Drop-off files.
  12. Click Logout.

Pick-up files

As the file recipient, you will receive an email notifying you that a file has been dropped off. This email will include a Claim ID and a Claim Passcode.

To pick-up files, follow these steps:

  1. Go to File Exchange.
  2. Click Login (if you are a College member) or Pick-up (if you are not a College member).
  3. Click Pick-up.
  4. Enter the Claim ID and Claim Passcode that was sent to you in your notification email.
  5. Download the files.
  6. Click Logout.

If you wish to share sensitive information, a further layer of protection needs to be added to ensure the data isn't intercepted.  The easiest method is to encrypt the file with 7-Zip and then to call the intended recipient with the password. 7-Zip should be preinstalled on all College-owned Windows desktop machines and is available on Linux, Mac and Windows. 7-Zip does rely on a decryption key to encrypt and decrypt files. For more Encryption options, visit: Encrypt sensitive information

OneDrive for Business

At Imperial, we recommend staff and students use OneDrive for Business to save their files. Not only does this mean files are available to you anywhere, but it also means files can be shared easily to those internal and external to the college. Any type of file can be shared, and users will be sent a link to the file to download on to their device.

The following short Microsoft video explains how to do this. Alternatively, follow these instructions: 

  1. With a file open or a file or folder selected select Share.
  2. If you are working on your desktop and the file hasn’t been saved to OneDrive or SharePoint, select a location you want to upload your file.
  3. Select the down arrow to choose permissions for the link you will be sharing. Options include:
  • Anyone (if your organization allows it)
  • People in your organization
  • Specific people
  1. Select Apply to save the permissions.
  2. Enter the name or email address of people you want to share with.
  3. Type a message.
  4. Select Send.

If OneDrive for Business is installed on your PC or Mac, you can also right-click the file, and share using OneDrive for Business.

Check out our OneDrive for Business web page for more information or view our Office 365 training videos.


SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) is principally used for file sharing. At the College, it is commonly used as a way of collaborating with other universities and colleagues in the field who wish to exchange large amounts of data - in term of large file size or large number of files or both. 

These cases include organisations where Imperial College staff are in a location that block access to external file sharing servers/services. In addition, it also makes it easier for collaboration to happen with certain sensitive locations (e.g. NHS sites). There is also a number of external health data suppliers who want to use SFTP to transfer data, and require Imperial College to store the data internally on campus.

Technical Details:

  • All users of this service will need to have an Imperial College user account (including guest account).
  • Access to this service is granted upon request only.
  • Users will need to have an SFTP client to connect to this service. Contact the ICT Service Desk if you need assistance.
  • Users (both internally and externally) will need to connect to the following location to use this service SFTP.IC.AC.UK
  • Typically for most users they will connect as follows, sftp [IC username] e.g. sftp
  • After the users login they will upload to their designated group area, where there will be a [ Group name ]-incoming folder where they should place their files (or pull their files from if they are downloading it)

 Other Key Points:

  • Service will be resilient across two servers
  • The service provides encryption in transit by default.
  • Customers can rent encrypted storage if they need the data to be encrypted at rest (please contact ICT for further discussion)
  • A default 100GB quota per group on a shared storage volume.
  • 10 day retention period with automatic deletions.
  • Messages will be provided at logon time to communicate with users regarding the service and retention period.
  • Auditing of access will be enabled.
  • SFTP protocol only for ingress and egress of data