I recently got a question from a small business website owner who was having difficulty with a file upload size limit in WordPress. He wanted to upload an audio file to his WordPress-powered website via the WordPress Media Library. His web host had the file upload size limit capped at 4MB and the audio file is considerably larger. His web host was happy to give him instructions on how to increase the file upload, but he was only able to achieve a maximum of 8MB which was still too little for this particular audio file.
Here’s what I recommended: don’t use WordPress’ Media Library to upload large files like audios, etc. I use FTP to upload most media to my sites for a couple of reasons:
First, there’s no size limitation to deal with. Depending on the size of the largest file you may want to upload now or in the future, you may or may not be able to get your web host to allow a large enough maximum size via the WordPress Media Library.
Second, I can put the media where I want it rather than letting WordPress put it where it wants to. WordPress has its own default convention for where it stores Media Library uploads which results in a long, fairly complex URL. Typically, it will be something like http://yoursite.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/filename.mp3 assuming you uploaded something in the year 2011 in the month of May. Note that it categorizes uploads by year and month. That’s fine if you use the media library to retrieve them and insert them into a page or post. If you create links manually like I do, it makes it difficult to remember the link, especially if you uploaded it a while ago. I have enough trouble remembering what I had for breakfast this morning!
It’s much simpler to create a directory on your server called “audios” or something easy to remember and just upload any audios there via FTP. Yes, I know you can configure WordPress to tell it where to upload things, but it’s a global setting meaning that all uploads will go to that one directory. With FTP you can have an “audios” directory, a “videos” directory, etc.
If you have a lot of audio and/or video media on your site, you will want to consider using Amazon S3 for storing your media rather than your web host. Amazon S3 is very reliable, very fast, and very inexpensive. For example, I have several GB of files stored on my S3 account and my last monthly bill from Amazon was just over $2!
Another advantage is that visitors to your site who access your media are not using your web host’s resources and bandwidth to access the media. You gain the advantage of Amazon S3’s speed and bandwidth and avoid using your quota on your web hosting account.
Another option is Dropbox which is free for the first 2GB. Dropbox is a good option if you don’t have more than 2GB of data to store and if you don’t care that people can pass the links around. There are ways to protect S3 links so that people have to come to your site to access them.