Trying to upload a big file into WordPress and getting a message telling you the file is too big, exceeds the maximum upload size, or a server timeout is frustrating.
We’ve all been there – trying to drop a large video or zip file into the WordPress uploads directory and getting blocked because the file is bigger than your setup allows. It’s one of the most common error messages, thankfully it is super easy to fix.
In this quick tutorial, I’ll show you how to increase your upload limit and keep your server from timing out by turning on multipart uploading with Big File Uploads. This will let you or your clients upload large files directly to the WordPress media library without using an FTP client.
Requirements & Compatibility
Big File Uploads is universally compatible and works with almost any host or server to increase the upload size of the WordPress media uploader. If you plan on uploading a lot of large files to your website, we recommend offloading your media to the cloud to keep your website running and files running fast, to save on hosting cost, and to keep your files secure.
Note: Frontend upload tools and form builder plugins that allow your users to upload files to your site do not use the same codebase as the WordPress media uploader. Big File Uploads will continue to work but will not increase the max size for uploads using other methods. To increase the upload limit for a frontend plugin or page builder uploader, consult the documentation or contact your hosting provider for support.
Install the Big File Uploads Plugin
To get started fixing the exceeds max uploads error you install the Big File Uploads plugin to your site. Big File Uploads is available free on WordPress.org, is active on more than 30,000 sites, is 5-star rated, and is supported by Infinite Uploads.
From the WordPress dashboard under the Plugins tab, click the Add New button. Type “Big File Uploads” into the search bar, click Install Now, and then Activate.
When the Big File Uploads plugin is activated, a new menu Big File Uploads tab will be added under the Settings menu.
What makes Big File Uploads special is it doesn’t just allow you to raise your size limit, it also changes the way your files are processed by adding support for multipart uploads to WordPress. Increasing the upload limit by editing the .htaccess file or php.ini file does not work with many hosts, and even when it does can cause server timeout errors. Big File Uploads works with most major hosting providers and it doesn’t matter if they are running Apache or Nginx because it uploads files in pieces making it possible to upload HUGE files without causing timeouts or max file size errors.
The other benefit to Big File Uploads is it allows you to configure what size files each user role (with upload capabilities) can upload. Say you want Administrators to have the option to upload 5 GB files but want to limit Editors to 512 MB – Big File Uploads can do that.
Now let’s dive into the configuration settings.
Changing The WordPress Upload Settings
With Big File Uploads installed and active on your website, from the WordPress dashboard go to Settings > Big File Uploads to access the Maximum Uploads Size configuration settings.
Big File Uploads will detect your server’s settings and set them automatically as the default upload limit. Changing the upload limit in the All Users field and saving will change the max upload size for all user roles with upload capabilities. You can set the limit in either megabytes (MB) or Gigabytes (GB).
Big File Uploads provides an estimate for the maximum upload limit your host can handle based on the available space in your server’s temp directory. Keep in mind, this is only an estimate but will provide you a good point of reference for deciding what size is right for your setup.
If you use Infinite Uploads to store and serve your uploads, it is infinitely scalable and you can set Big File Uploads to allow any size file you like.
Setting Upload Limits Based On User Role
Big File Uploads also gives you the ability to change upload limits based on user role with upload capability. This includes user roles created by third-party plugins like WooCommerce, learning management systems, and membership plugins.
To adjust based on user role, toggle on the “Customize by user role” option, and a list of all the users with upload permissions will appear. Again, Big File Uploads will have all roles set to the default maximum upload size set by your server. Increase or decrease the max upload size for each role and click save to adjust the permissions.
Now when a user goes to upload a file in the WordPress dashboard, the new limit will display under the WordPress uploader. If a user tries to upload a file larger than the limit in Big File Uploads settings, the error message will show.
You can click the change button at any point to increase or decrease the upload limit on the Settings page.
Multipart Uploads – What It Is And How It Works
Even if you can reconfigure your hosting server to allow bigger file uploads, you may still run into timeout errors during upload. Big File Uploads fixes that too by adding support for multipart uploads in the default WordPress uploader. This is added transparently and requires no setup. In essence, Big File Uploads changes the settings for uploads and points the AJAX URL to the plugin to enable handling multipart uploads. When files are added, they are uploaded in parts (separate smaller pieces) before they are handed off to WordPress. Then the Big File Uploads plugin combines the parts before passing them to WordPress for processing.
Whether you’re looking for a simple solution for increasing your upload limit or need the ability to set custom limits based on user role, Big File Uploads makes it easy.
Upload any size file directly to your uploads directory up to the available space on your hosting plan, or if you are using the Infinite Uploads cloud you can upload any size file without timing out thanks to file chunking. With Big File Uploads, you don’t need to use an FTP or SFTP client to upload big files. Use the WordPress uploader to upload large files right from the WordPress uploader.
If you have any questions, feature suggestions, or ideas leave them in the comments below.