An overview of file sizes in regards to the Brightspace Learning Environment system that Montana State University uses for delivery of pure distance, blended, and web supplemented courses.

D2L File Areas Download/Upload issues File Size best practices

Areas in D2L that are used to store and/or handle files

Personal D2L Locker:

  • every account in D2L gets one
  • amount of file size in Locker is cumulative and dependent on individual's enrollment role
  • Student role: 15mb
  • Instructor role: 5mb
  • Course Assistant role: 5mb
  • Manager role: 1mb
  • Audit role: 15mb
  • Librarian role: 1mb
  • Specific to a course:

    • Group locker limit: 15mb
    • Discussions: attachments can be unlimited file size
    • Dropbox: unlimited maximum file size and unlimited total size*
    • Manage Files: unlimited maximum file size and unlimited total size*

    Email (D2L's internal/external email system):

    • attachment limited to 1mb
    • cumulative email limits: 1.5mb

    *Note: the storage capabilities and file sizes that the D2L system can handle are listed as unlimited in these areas but unlimited doesn't necessarily mean that you can physically upload a gigantic file into D2L

    back to top

    Assessing issues regarding download and upload of files while connected to the Internet

    Note: Many points presented below are common to the "Internet experience" in general - not necessarily specific to "the D2L experience."

    There are influences on performance regarding the downloading and uploading* of files. Basically: connection type, bandwidth, network traffic, and file size affect the time it takes to move a file between two computers.

    connection to the internet


    Bandwidth description at Tech Terms

    "When visualizing bandwidth, it may help to think of a network connection as a tube and each bit of data as a grain of sand. If you pour a large amount of sand into a skinny tube, it will take a long time for the sand to flow through it. If you pour the same amount of sand through a wide tube, the sand will finish flowing through the tube much faster. Similarly, a download will finish much faster when you have a high-bandwidth connection rather than a low-bandwidth connection."

  • connection bandwidth has effect - lower bandwidth connections will take more time
  • network traffic

    • the number of people (or sessions) that are connected at any given time
      • for example:
        • 100 people connected to a server versus 10 people connected - each scenario puts a different load on the server which may affect response times
        • 10 people connected and transferring large files might actually put more of a load on a server than 100 people moving small files or no files - there may be measurable performance differences
      • other factors can figure in regarding network traffic - for example:
        • time of day; time of month; number of connected users internet-wide

    file size

    • a larger file will take more time to download/upload than a smaller file - period
    • defining a large file?
      • type of file makes no difference - it's the number of bytes - the actual file size
      • typically, graphic files and multimedia files (video, audio) make larger files
      • there is no way to really nail a definition down but a handy way to look at it is in terms of time it will take to transfer a file
        • on the web there are sites with calculators that give an idea of how long it may take to transfer a file under different connection/bandwidth scenarios
        • to work it out, figure out your connection type, ascertain the size of the file you wish to transfer
          • do an Internet search for a calculator

    you can figure out your local computer's connection capabilities

    • get an idea of your connection/bandwidth capabilities by using an online "speed test" site
      • test connection speeds to a variety of sites to which you normally connect
    • you can do an Internet search for a speed test site

    other considerations when dealing with download/upload

    • slow fingers! give the download/upload time to work and let it resolve one way or the other
    • server timeouts can occur when trying to upload a very large file
      • there are many reasons that this can occur - including server settings and connection settings - as well as a combination of both
    • when working in D2L, quite often there is no real way to tell where the file is in the process
      • cues as to disposition of file in the process of upload/download are dependent upon operating system and browser

    *defining downloading and uploading files

    • moving a file from a server to a local computer is a download - for example: a file downloads from D2L to the computer you are working at
    • moving a file from a local computer to a server is an upload - for example: a file is uploaded from the computer you are working at to D2L
    • typically, download speeds are faster than upload speeds

    back to top

    File size best practices specific to D2L

    Make file size as small as possible as a rule. Many file types can benefit from compression and being made "web-ready" through various means.

    always remember to construct your course materials with the end-user in mind:

    • students in your courses may not have the robust connection that you enjoy
      • always prepare files in a fashion that encourages ease of handling on the web
      • remember that your students will have to handle (download, upload, display) files associated with your course - optimize any files whenever possible
      • test your course on another connection to find out how it performs
    • students may not have the application required to open documents you ask them to open
      • remember that a browser can serve as a "leveling" device - if documents or files are constructed for the web then they will display fairly consistently across the web - independent of operating system
      • if requiring certain applications to open certain files let your students know that it is a requisite of the course that they be able to access that application

    when preparing files for use in your course:

    • be selective when using PDF files – use plain web pages (html) whenever practical and possible
    • if you do need to use them, optimize PDFs whenever possible
    • always optimize image files
      • save image files in compressed formats (JPEG or GIF) rather than uncompressed - don’t use TIFF or BMP or PDF if possible
      • if they are photos they can be much lower resolution and still look great on the web
      • if they are black and white you don’t need to save color information
      • there are documents (including many tutorials) regarding working with Web graphics in many places on the web - we suggest a search (using your favorite search engine) containing search terms like: web, graphics, tutorials, optimize - this will point you to many resources
    • optimize media files (audio and video)
      • if you create or edit your own media files, most media editing programs have settings that allow you to reduce file size significantly and still retain good quality
      • keep in mind it’s the web, not sensurround
      • consider utilizing sites that are on the web to handle your multi-media needs
        • for instance, if you are hosting videos inside your D2L course, you might create yourself an account on a site dedicated to displaying video (like, for instance, YouTube) - this will take some load off of the D2L server
        • this will also take some load off of you if the service compresses and applies the appropriate CODEC to the media for you

    space savings inside your D2L course:

    • remember that all files in your Manage Files area contribute to the file size of the course in general
      • this can affect your "Import/Export/Copy Components" routines as you seek to copy/move files from one location to another
      • to help mitigate this effect:
        • keep track of large files (especially audio, video, PDF, and image files) and delete those that are no longer in use in your course
        • don’t use your D2L Manage Files area as a storage area – you should already have those files stored elsewhere, like on your local computer
        • delete all .zip archives after uploading and unzipping them in your course
          • no need to double up by leaving .zip files around

    back to top