Uploading Large Documents to SharePoint

Dec 22, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog  //  2 Comments

These are my recommend actions for uploading large-ish documents to SharePoint, since I get many support requests about this, usually late in the night when I’m not expected to be working.  I’m hoping that Dr. Google and Nurse Bing can help those people struggling with how to get their midnight-oil-generated documents uploaded.

SharePoint Document Library Upload Document If you are getting upload failures or timeouts when using a Document Library’s menu to upload a document, there are alternatives that may work out better for you.  However, whether or not you are able to use them is based on a few factors. First, the exact instructions are dependent on the version of SharePoint you are using.  The features I outline below are available in versions of SharePoint starting with 2003 (or WSS 3.0).  Second, they are dependent on how your installation of SharePoint is configured by the administrators.   So while there are no guarantees that these will work, they are certain worth trying.

The default maximum file size for SharePoint is 50MB.  If your document or file is larger than that, your administrator will have configure SharePoint to accept larger sized files.  You could, though, try these workarounds to get is uploaded

  1. Make multiple smaller files out of the larger file in order to get it uploaded while you wait on your administrator to adjust the configuration. 
  2. Zip the file, which depending on the format of the file, could significantly reduce the size of the file.

But you do have other options, again dependent on how your document library and SharePoint server are configured. 

Email the document to the Document Library

If the document library has been configured to receive mail, you can upload the document by just sending an e-mail to that library if that has been configured.  Note that each library will have a separate e-mail address so you’ll need to look it up.  Do so by clicking on Settings on the library toolbar, then choose Document Library Settings:


Document Library Settings

From there you’ll see basic information about the library:

Document Library Settings image

I’ve blurred out some of my information, but the e-mail address list will be a full e-mail address.  If you copy that from the list and put it in the TO: field of an e-mail, you can attach the file and send it to the document library.  Make sure that the file and the subject line of your e-mail are meaningful as they may be used in populating some of the fields in the library.

There are some gotchas with this method:

  1. Your e-mail server may be configured to restrict sending of documents over a certain size, so this e-mail method may not work.
  2. Just like blocked files in SharePoint, your e-mail services may block attachments with certain extensions.

Use the File Explorer Method

SharePoint also offers another method for getting files into a document library: using a file explorer interface.

To use this method, go to the document library and choose ACTIONS, then Open with Windows Explorer:

Actions Open with Windows Explorer image

You’ll need to use Internet Explorer for this option to show up. If you are using any other browser, you won’t see all those options, including the Open with Windows Explorer.

A normal explorer window will open and you can drag and drop your file into the library, just like you were copying a file between any other two folders.  You may first be promoted to supply your login again.

Don’t place the document in the Forms folder.


Drag and drop

Once that has completed, you’ll need to go back to the library and update the fields for that document.

Document Library

Special Note: You may also be having problems uploading a file if it has an extension that is blocked from being uploaded by the SharePoint Administrator.  It is common for certain file types to be restricted in order to reduce the risk to other SharePoint users.  None of the above techniques will work if the extension of the document has been blocked.

Connect to Outlook

There is another method of linking the SharePoint document library to Outlook, but I personally don’t like that method because every time I open Outlook I am promoted to log in.  This isn’t just for uploading, but for working with SharePoint items from within Outlook. You can set this up by going again to ACTIONS, then Connect to Outlook:



You will receive several prompts and warnings which you will need to agree to before finally being prompted by Outlook to configure the synchronization.  Since this blog post is only about uploading a document and not synching files between Outlook and SharePoint, I’ll point you to Microsoft’s information about Connect to Outlook.  It might be worth a try if the other methods still don’t work for you.

I hope one of these methods worked for you.  If you’ve found other methods, please leave them in the comments.

Finally, if you still aren’t able to get the file uploaded, it’s time to contact your SharePoint administrator.  She or he will need the following information:

  1. The size of the document.
  2. The format/file extension of the document
  3. The browser and version you are using
  4. The Operating System you are using (XP, Vista, Windows 7, Linux, etc.)
  5. The link to the document library you are trying to upload to
  6. The exact error message you are receiving (Screen shots are best)
  7. Description of your internet connection (wireless, cable, dial-up)
  8. User ID you used to log in to SharePoint
  9. The approximate date and time (with time zone) you were experiencing the issue

The more information you can provide, the faster someone can help you get the fi


  • what about using Sharepoint Workspace (aka Groove)? wouldn’t that work? (IF you could get Sharepoint Workspace to work … )

    • Yes, that is also an option for those using SharePoint 2010 and above, as long as it was available. Thanks for contributing that idea.

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