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svenr at selfhtml dot org
10 years ago
Clarification on the MAX_FILE_SIZE hidden form field:

PHP has the somewhat strange feature of checking multiple "maximum file sizes".

The two widely known limits are the php.ini settings "post_max_size" and "upload_max_size", which in combination impose a hard limit on the maximum amount of data that can be received.

In addition to this PHP somehow got implemented a soft limit feature. It checks the existance of a form field names "max_file_size" (upper case is also OK), which should contain an integer with the maximum number of bytes allowed. If the uploaded file is bigger than the integer in this field, PHP disallows this upload and presents an error code in the $_FILES-Array.

The PHP documentation also makes (or made - see bug #40387 - http://bugs.php.net/bug.php?id=40387) vague references to "allows browsers to check the file size before uploading". This, however, is not true and has never been. Up til today there has never been a RFC proposing the usage of such named form field, nor has there been a browser actually checking its existance or content, or preventing anything. The PHP documentation implies that a browser may alert the user that his upload is too big - this is simply wrong.

Please note that using this PHP feature is not a good idea. A form field can easily be changed by the client. If you have to check the size of a file, do it conventionally within your script, using a script-defined integer, not an arbitrary number you got from the HTTP client (which always must be mistrusted from a security standpoint).

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