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How to Upload Really Large Files to SkyDrive, Dropbox, or Email

Do you need to upload a very large file to store online or email to a friend? Unfortunately, whether you’re emailing a file or using online storage sites like SkyDrive, there’s a limit on the size of files you can use. Here’s how to get around the limits.

Skydrive only lets you add files up to 50 MB, and while the Dropbox desktop client lets you add really large files, the web interface has a 300 MB limit, so if you were on another PC and wanted to add giant files to your Dropbox, you’d need to split them. This same technique also works for any file sharing service—even if you were sending files through email.

There’s two ways that you can get around the limits—first, by just compressing the files if you’re close to the limit, but the second and more interesting way is to split up the files into smaller chunks. Keep reading for how to do both.


Box icon by deliciousroom

Just Shrink the File!

So what can you do if you really need to share a larger file but have hit the upload limit?  If you’re right near the limit, you might be able to get by with just compressing the original file.  You could just right-click and select Send to –> Compressed Folder, but you’ll save even more space by using another compression tool that’s more efficient than zip format. 

We recommend installing the freeware 7-Zip program; then, just select Add to yourfile.7z and your file will be compressed in 7-Zip format.  Depending on your file, you can often shave several megabits off of a 50Mb file so you can upload it easily.

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Split the File into Chunks

But what if your file is still too big?  It’s 7-Zip to the rescue again!  This time, open the 7-Zip window and browse to the folder where your file is saved.  Right-click the file you need to upload and select Split File.

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This will open a dialog asking where to save the split files and what size to split them to.  You can select the standard floppy, CD, or DVD sizes, but since you’ll likely not be using a floppy (does anyone still use those today?) just enter the size you need in the box.  We entered 50Mb to break our file into 50Mb chunks so we can easily upload them to SkyDrive.  Press Ok when you’re finished. If you were using Email, you could split the files up into 10 MB chunks and they will probably go through.

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Now, just wait a few moments while 7-Zip splits your file into nice, smaller files.

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Upload or Email Your Files

Once the splitting process is finished, you can try to upload your files again, this time selecting the new split files. And if you picked the correct file size to split the file, your new files should upload just fine.  So much for file size limits!

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Restore the Original File

The only problem is, now you’ve got a bunch of files named yourfile.ext.001, yourfile.ext.002, and more.  What do you do with these files?  You’ll need to convert them back into the original file.  To do this, just save the files in the same folder, and browse to that folder in 7-Zip.  Right-click on the first file with the extension .001 and select Combine Files.

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7-Zip will detect the other files, and ask where you want to save them.  Press Ok to combine the files, and seconds later you’ll have your original file again.

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That’s it!  Now you can upload any sized files you want, share them, and then get the original file back easily.  You could do this with many different file archival programs, but 7-Zip works great and is free, so we recommend it.  Whether you need to compress a file, split it, or combine the split parts, it’ll work great for everything.

Download 7-Zip

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 12/2/10

Comments (15)

  1. Chronno S. Trigger

    Can 7zip make a self extracting split archive like Winrar can? That way you don’t have to worry if the other person has 7zip. That’s how I send vary large files to some of our clients. I only have to worry about double clicking on *.part1.exe and it takes care of *.part2.rar and *.part3.rar.

  2. MiezeKater33

    No, 7-Zip can split files using binary split (like the ancient HJSplit) only. It can create a 7z split archive, but can’t create a 7z split SFX archive. But even in the normal 7z split archives (no SFX) there are quite some limitations: There’s no error correction, no CRC verify and it pretty much sucks with telling if a split archive is missing (strange error message).

    I truly don’t recommend splitting of 7z archives. It’s just asking for trouble. 7-zip is a fine piece of software, but once you seriously try to start working with 7-zip, it doesn’t take long to see how superior a “polished” program like WinRar or even WinZip really is.

    The best of two worlds combined? Compress a large file with 7-zip compression method “ultra” (takes very long) as 7z SFX archive (one large file). Then split the file using WinRAR with compression method “store” as SFX split archive. Now the file is ready to be shared. It’s as tiny as it can be, split with CRC verify and optional error recovery and can be rebuild without an installation of WinRAR or 7-zip.

  3. Robert

    I love awesome drop

  4. Gouthaman Karunakaran

    Great article. Although I doubt if 7-Zip can create self-extracting archives.

  5. LingonLife

    Great idea! With icloud you are allowed to upload up to 150 MB files. Never realized there was a way around this. I’ll help you spread the good news! Thanks for the tip.

  6. Rodrigo

    Yo uso IZarc, es gratis y tiene SFX. I use IZArc, it’s free and it can create SFX archives.

  7. Scott

    Once upon a time a company I worked for calculated email attachment size as uncompressed no matter what the actual compressed size. So a 12 meg file compressed to say 8 meg with a 10 meg limit would be rejected.

    The sys admin explained this was the situation because the email server/av software had to uncompress the attachment in order to scan it.

    Anyone ever come across such a situation?

  8. Camilo Martin

    The split files created by 7-Zip are just splitted – that is, they are precisely the same stream. So you can join these files using Windows’ COPY command-line tool (included in all versions of windows) to merge the files.

    Note that this also means you can simply split any file with or without compression – like an AVI.

  9. Demon Lord

    @ Writer: TORRENT, you forgot to mention about that. what if you want to send a really big file, like 700MB or 1GB or bigger!! you are going to have 70+ files. sending them or uploading them is really frustrating. with torrent you can send files with unlimited size to one or group of people.

  10. sumanth

    really nice post…sharing big files troubles me alot i think this will solve my problms..

  11. Smiling Carcass

    Some web-based email will let you upload a file of any size- even several GB- but won’t let you send them. So a clumsy way of achieving a similar result is to upload your multi GB file, save the email as a draft. Go to the other computer you want the large file on and download it from the archived email. Of course, you could equally use portable media… but-

    this technique could be used to allow a trusted friend access to your email to download a large file, then change the password if your friend isn’t that trusted. Or create a second email address to do only this between ‘friends’. Remembering, of course, always to be aware of the security issues if you use this method- your ‘friend’ could possibly change the password before you, so always opt for alternative email password recovery if available.

  12. Marfa

    So stupid…

  13. Jon B

    Yes, so stupid that only a carcass can think of it.

  14. Wagner Silva'

    Cool sites!
    I really enjoyed the ppbras.com, that offers the pepedrive service. It offer 1Gb for free, you can upload any file having any size, and it is much easier than others sites.

  15. shaghayegh

    Thank you, it was very helpful for me :)

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