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ExSite Webware Forum > Comment "File size in Forums"

File size in Forums
by Martin Lowe, posted on 2:58 PM, October 20, 2009
Why don't forums allow files larger that 48K?
    Re: Zines
    by Morgan Burke, posted on 2:59 PM, October 20, 2009
    Forums are a simple way for users to add content to a website. These comments and attachments add a burden to the website, of disk storage space, network bandwidth, database activity, and backups. These burdens can result in extra costs to the website owner if they become large relative to the official content of the website, or if they cause the website to outgrow its hosting limits. For these reasons, most websites are fairly restrictive in what they allow users to upload to their website forums.

    Images can be scaled and compressed, so even if users upload a large image (eg. a 3 MB image off of a digital camera), it is usually possible to automatically scale the image down to something reasonable for the web (eg. 20-40 KB). For this reason, images are sometimes accepted, where regular files would not be.

    Other files that can be shrunk down to a similar size should also be manageable, but since the website cannot do this automatically for all types of files, it makes them more difficult to deal with. This is especially a problem with many file types that are known for large file sizes, including rich PDF files, large Office documents, PowerPoint files, videos, audio files, and others. Often these files are encoded at quality levels that make the files very large, even though that quality is not needed for sharing them over the web. Files of these types will rapidly swamp a website with active forums, and can quickly accumulate to the point that they dwarf the real content of the site. Most website owners do not want to be paying for the backup and storage of years worth of large attachments that were only of short-term interest, so these sorts of attachments are typically not accepted by website forums.

    The typical work-around is for the poster to make the file available at some other location online, and then post a link to it in their comment. The web is now full of image, file, and video hosting services that can assist with this method, if the file is too large to post directly, and cannot be manually shrunk down in size.
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