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Unable to upload files greater than 128mb via http

2014-03-14 10:44 pm EST

Hits: 1,808
We have a weird issue that popped up on our website and after several rounds with inMotion Support, they recommended I post here We have an upload form that abruptly resets the connection when trying to upload files over 128mb. Please know ahead of time that inMotion Support has verified that our php.ini file is correctly configured. Also, this script worked perfectly last year -- Our members only post files from March to June, so I can't pinpoint a time when this behavior began.

On our site, we allow members to upload files to the server. This is in a secure area, but for testing purposes we have also created a very simple PHP upload script, but the behavior is the same.

â?¢ The problem only manifests with files larger than 128 MB. We have verified a file of ~127MB uploads successfully even on a slow connection with the whole transaction lasting >5:00, but a file of ~130MB fails ~:15 after the form has submitted. This is very specific behavior.

â?¢ There are no decisions made regarding acceptance of a file upload based on its size or anything else that would explain this very specific behavior in our php code.

â?¢ There is no JS running on the client that could make a decision based on file size or account for this very specific behavior.

â?¢ There are no 3rd party libraries or unknown quantities in play here. This is straight-up, kind of boring PHP...

â?¢ We are experiencing the same very specific behavior uploading a file >128MB using a completely different php script on your server that is outside of our main codebase.

â?¢ This script is in use on other websites with other hosting services.

Because we are on a shared hosting package at inMotion, changing any Apache configurations (even if they're incorrect) does not seem to be an option. I would greatly appreciate any help you might be able to give.

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Hi Jacob,

I'm on a dedicated host - what can I do about changing this setting to say, 250MB?
0 Points
2015-06-19 01:35 am EST

Best answer chosen by User


9,968 Points
2014-03-16 9:38 pm EST
Hello bigcomposer, thanks for the detailed question,

Your thoroughness helped me narrow down the issue relatively easily. I created some 1MB, 127MB, and 128MB test .zip files, and sure enough had no issues with the first two. However with the last 128MB one, I had no such luck.

Strangely enough, the request seemed to just die off. In Google Chrome, I could see in the bottom-left status area Uploading (1%).... It got up to Uploading (4%)... then reset back to Uploading (0%)..., got back up to Uploading (4%)..., then I got the This webpage is not available error in Chrome.

Taking a look at your site's access logs I noticed that when I tried to upload the 1MB or 127MB files, the POST request from my browser got a 200 OK response from the server, stating your PHP script was found and accepting the POST data.

When I attempted to upload a 128MB file, I could see the server was instead sending back a 404 Not Found response right away. So I started the file upload, but then my web-browser couldn't communicate to the PHP script to properly upload it, it bugs out tries again, and then serves me a default 404 error page.

Apache error logs and ModSecurity

To troubleshoot further I took a look at the tcmpdump info for my domain during the request, I also had a grep running for my IP to your website's access log, and the Apache error logs:

tcpdump -n host | tee -a IP_LOG &
tail -f ~userna5/access-logs/ | grep --color &
tail -f /usr/local/apache/logs/error_log | grep --color &

This is what I noticed in the Apache error log:

[error] ModSecurity: Request body (Content-Length) is larger than the configured limit (134217728).

So it's ModSecurity that's intercepting your large POSTs, as 134217728 bytes is 128MB.

This is a setting that can be raised at the server-wide level with the SecRequestBodyInMemoryLimit directive. However, I believe this is the default ModSecurity setting, and not something I'm sure we'll change on shared hosting.

I can check for you tomorrow to find out for sure, and update this answer accordingly.

Sorry for the troubles, and thanks again for providing a great deal of info in your question.

- Jacob

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Hello again bigcomposer,

I was able to check with our senior system administration team, and unfortunately we won't be able to raise this limit on shared hosting due to possible abuse with this raised at the server-wide level.

On either a VPS or dedicated server, since you would be the only account on the server, this value could be raised to get around the issues.

Alternatively, while not as convenient I'm sure, you could simply create an FTP account specifically for your uploads. You can even set a max quota on the FTP account so that one user doesn't fill up your entire account's disk space.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and please let us know if there was anything else you needed.

- Jacob
9,968 Points
2014-03-17 2:05 pm EST
Thank you so much for your thoughtful and thorough answer. Although there doesn't seem to be a viable solution at the moment for us without some major redevelopment, it is very nice to read that this issue is indeed at the server level and not with our script as continually accused by inMotion's support team.
18 Points
2014-04-15 10:23 pm EST
Hello Setuart,

On a dedicated server you should be able to change the Mod Security rules if you have root access. If you're not familiar with that, you can always submit a ticket to the live technical support team and they can make the change for you. Make sure that your php.ini file is also set to allow files of that size.

If you have any further questions or comments, please let us know.

Arnel C.
42,973 Points
2015-06-19 10:10 am EST
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