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

By Matthew Guay on December 2nd, 2010

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
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