Sysadmins - server file upload opinions needed

The Server Nazi here has declared a 4MB file upload size on the server. In general, this isn’t a problem, but we have several clients who want to upload larger PDFs. A 7MB PDF still isn’t very large - a company could easily make that with their Annual Shareholder Report or something like that, which is the kind of thing our clients want to put on their websites. If they need to put anything larger on, we need to give FTP instructions, which confuses un-techy clients.

I want to recommend a 10MB cap (that still stops users from uploading massive files that would use bandwidth, not that that’s ever been an issue for us) but I need something to substantiate that. What limit are you guys putting on? Is there a magical sysadmin article that people like to refer to?

Thanks y’all!

Well you can always zip the file up. As your zipping it you can put it into parts less than 4mb. Then email each of the 4mb seperately. Of course this is a big pain and a lot of your clients will have issues, though it’s very easy to do once you know.

I was a sysadmin and it’s a ridiculous limitation if an employee has a legitimate use.

My solution to this is something similar I did with a color printer.

The simple solution is to designate a few people that ARE able to upload larger amounts.

In my case I designated the head of every dept and the executive secretary.

If you had a big file to upload, you simply gave it to one of them and had THEM upload it.

So you’re talking about a “file upload” form field box on a Web server? Is it an Apache or IIS server? If IIS, what version? Is the form coded in PHP or ASP or ASP.NET or something else?

Or is there some other non-form-field, non-ftp way of uploading to a server for use on a Web site that I am missing?

Sorry, yes, web form on LAMP. It isn’t at the php.ini level, it’s the actual server setting.

To be more clear, I’m hoping to find a answer that says ‘4MB is a ridiculously tiny upload limit and it’s stupid and here’s why’.

I wouldn’t scoff at 4MB on an IIS server (as in, I think that’s plenty), but I might be inclined to allow more if it was a server dedicated to one site/client.

I don’t know anything about it on Apache, tho.

The thing about big uploads over HTTP, I believe, is that 1) it slows down other HTTP processes 2) I don’t think you can resume or even show proper progress (I may be wrong on that) 3) People have no patience. No patience at all. It takes a long time to upload 4MB via a form. I don’t trust people to wait and not just browse away.

You’re not going to find such a document because data size limits are based on business policy and technical consideration that vary based on the nature of the application, infrastructure, the business being conducted, and countless other factors. Find out what the business justification for the 4MB limit is, and demonstrate that the concerns the 4MB limit addresses are not applicable to your use cases. “If we don’t provide <name of service>, the clients will take their business elsewhere” is also usually pretty effective, assuming you can get management to buy that argument.

PDFs can be made from an original, text document, and become ridiculously small.

The same document, if printed out, scanned and converted from dots to PDF will be ridiculously large.

Unfortunately, the second method is being used more and more, even if the first method is available. Some people don’t understand how this works.

All I can suggest is not to complain that 4MB is too small, but that storage space is costing 50% less every year. If 4MB was a reasonable max two years ago, the limit should now be 16MB (4 x 2 x 2) for the same storage cost.

Another idea…how about implementing an automatic purge after N days? Then the file might be big, but won’t be around long enough to matter. Could users live with that?

It’s not about the space. The cap is on the size of a single upload via http. The OP knows this, since they know FTP is an option (but the un-desired one).

The sales answer…

The free upload limit is 4MB, there is an additional charge for handling uploads larger than that.

Customers will magically develop the ability to make them under 4MB.

Yeah, sysadmin basically says ‘users shouldn’t need to upload anything larger than 4MB!’. But at this point, I think the cost of supporting users who need us to act as intermediary to upload things is more than whatever it would cost to boost up the file limit.

We’re a web development company that has our own production server - we’re not concerned about an intranet or whatever.

I just checked Dreamhost, they set php.ini to 7MB by default, and HostGator 64MB (!).