File Imports are the most tried and true method of getting large amounts of data into SMFC. As for limitations -- most of the issues I've seen with imports haven't been with size or row counts -- it's been with bad data, like extra CR/LFs, bad delimiters or improper text qualification. Importing structured data like XML is possible, but not recommended. The functionality is too limited.
As for file size, I've worked in some accounts that import 3 gigabyte files every day.
If you're having issues with File Imports and you have an older account (more than 3 years old), check with SFMC Support to see if you have the latest version of the importer.
There are also several business rules that modify file import behavior -- like importing empty files without error, etc.
There are also several options for handling encrypted files, the Safehouse, and file-drop triggered automations.