Click here to Skip to main content
14,690,616 members
Articles » Web Development » ASP.NET » General
Article
Posted 29 Sep 2015

Stats

116.5K views
8.8K downloads
69 bookmarked

Upload Large Files to MVC / WebAPI using Partitioning

Rate me:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.
4.88/5 (57 votes)
29 Sep 2015CPOL
A solution to uploading large files in C# MVC

Introduction

Sending large files to an MVC/Web-API server can be problematic - this article is about an alternative. The approach used is to break a large file up into small chunks, upload them, then merge them back together on the server - file transfer by partitioning. The article shows sending files to an MVC server from both a webpage using JavaScript, and a Web-form httpclient, and can be implemented using either MVC or WebAPI.

In my experience, the larger the file you need to upload to a website/api, the bigger the potential problems you encounter. Even when you put the right settings in place, adjust your web.config, make certain you use the right multiplier for maxRequestLength and maxAllowedContentLength and of course, don't forget about executionTimeout (eeks!), things can still go wrong. Connections can fail when the file is *almost* transferred, servers unexpectedly (Murphys law) run out of space, etc., the list goes on. The diagram below demonstrates the basic concept discussed in this article.

Image 1

Background

The concept for this solution is very simple. The attached code works (I have it started in production), and can be improved by you in many ways. For example, for the purposes of this article, the original large file is broken into circa 1MB chunks, and uploaded to the server sequentially, one chunk at a time. This could, for example, be made more efficient by threading, and sending chunks in parallel. It could also be made more robust by adding fault tolerance, auto-resume into a rest-api architecture, etc. I leave you to implement these features yourself if you need them.

The code consist two parts - the initial file-split/partitioning into chunks, and the final merge of the chunks back into the original file. I will demonstrate the file-split using both C# in a web-form, and JavaScript, and the file-merge using C# server-side.

File Split

The concept of splitting a file is very basic. We transverse the file in a binary stream, from position zero, up to the last byte in the file, copying out chunks of binary data along the way and transferring these. Generally, we set an arbitrary (or carefully thought out!) chunk size to extract, and use this as the amount of data to take at a time. Anything left over at the end is the final chunk.

In the example below, a chunk size of 128b is set. For the file shown, this gives us 3 x 128b chunks, and 1 x 32b. In this example, there are four file chunks resulting from the split and to transfer to the server.

Image 2

C# File Split

The accompanying demo "WinFileUpload" is a simple Windows Forms application. Its sole function is to demonstrate splitting a sample large file (50MB) in C#, and using a HTTPClient to post the file to a web-server (in this case, an MVC server).

For this C# example, I have a class called Utils, which takes some input variables such as maximum file chunk size, temporary folder location, and the name of the file to split. To split the file into chunks, we call the method "SplitFile". SplitFile works its way through the input file and breaks it into separate file chunks. We then upload each file chunk it using "UploadFile".

Utils ut = new Utils();
ut.FileName = "hs-2004-15-b-full_tif.bmp"; // hard coded for demo
ut.TempFolder = Path.Combine(CurrentFolder, "Temp");
ut.MaxFileSizeMB = 1;
ut.SplitFile();

foreach (string File in ut.FileParts)
  {
    UploadFile(File);
  }
MessageBox.Show("Upload complete!");

The file upload method takes an input file-name, and uses a HTTPClient to upload the file. Note the fact that we are sending MultiPartFormData to carry the payload.

public bool UploadFile(string FileName)
{
  bool rslt = false;
  using (var client = new HttpClient())
    {
      using (var content = new MultipartFormDataContent())
        {
         var fileContent = new   ByteArrayContent(System.IO.File.ReadAllBytes(FileName));
         fileContent.Headers.ContentDisposition = new
             ContentDispositionHeaderValue("attachment")
               {
                FileName = Path.GetFileName(FileName)
               };
         content.Add(fileContent);

        var requestUri = "http://localhost:8170/Home/UploadFile/";
            try
            {
                var result = client.PostAsync(requestUri, content).Result;
                rslt = true;
            }
            catch (Exception ex)
            {
                // log error
                rslt = false;
            }
        }
    }
   return rslt;
}

So, that's the supporting code out of the way. One of the critical things to be aware of next is the file naming convention that is being used. It consists of the original file-name, plus a code-parsable tail "_part." that will be used server-side to merge the different file chunks back into a single contiguous file again. This is simply the convention I put together - you can change it to your own requirements, just be sure you are consistent with it.

The convention for this example is:

Name = original name + ".part_N.X" (N = file part number, X = total files)

Here is an example of a picture file split into three parts:

  • MyPictureFile.jpg.part_1.3
  • MyPictureFile.jpg.part_2.3
  • MyPictureFile.jpg.part_3.3

It doesn't matter what order the file chunks are sent to the server. The important thing is that some convention, like the above is used, so that the server knows (a) what file part it is dealing with and (b) when all parts have been received and can be merged back into one large original file again.

Next, here is the meat of the C# code that scans the file, creating multiple chunk files ready to transfer.

public bool SplitFile()
{
    bool rslt = false;
    string BaseFileName = Path.GetFileName(FileName);
    // set the size of file chunk we are going to split into
    int BufferChunkSize = MaxFileSizeMB * (1024 * 1024);
    // set a buffer size and an array to store the buffer data as we read it
    const int READBUFFER_SIZE = 1024;
    byte[] FSBuffer = new byte[READBUFFER_SIZE];
    // open the file to read it into chunks
    using (FileStream FS = new FileStream(FileName, FileMode.Open,
                                          FileAccess.Read, FileShare.Read))
    {
        // calculate the number of files that will be created
        int TotalFileParts = 0;
        if (FS.Length < BufferChunkSize)
        {
            TotalFileParts = 1;
        }
        else
        {
            float PreciseFileParts = ((float)FS.Length / (float)BufferChunkSize);
            TotalFileParts = (int)Math.Ceiling(PreciseFileParts);
        }

        int FilePartCount = 0;
        // scan through the file, and each time we get enough data to fill a chunk,
        // write out that file
        while (FS.Position < FS.Length)
        {
            string FilePartName = String.Format("{0}.part_{1}.{2}",
            BaseFileName, (FilePartCount + 1).ToString(), TotalFileParts.ToString());
            FilePartName = Path.Combine(TempFolder, FilePartName);
            FileParts.Add(FilePartName);
            using (FileStream FilePart = new FileStream(FilePartName, FileMode.Create))
            {
                int bytesRemaining = BufferChunkSize;
                int bytesRead = 0;
                while (bytesRemaining > 0 && (bytesRead = FS.Read(FSBuffer, 0,
                 Math.Min(bytesRemaining, READBUFFER_SIZE))) > 0)
                {
                    FilePart.Write(FSBuffer, 0, bytesRead);
                    bytesRemaining -= bytesRead;
                }
            }
          // file written, loop for next chunk
          FilePartCount++;
        }

    }
        return rslt;
}

That's it for the C# client-side - we will see the result and how to handle things server-side later in the article. Next, let's look at how to do the same thing in JavaScript, from a web-browser.

JavaScript File Split

NB: The JavaScript code, and the C# Merge code are contained in the attached demo file "MVCServer".

In our browser, we have an input control of type "file", and a button to call a method that initiates the file-split and data transfer.

<input type="file" id="uploadFile" name="file" />  <a class="btn btn-primary" href="#" id="btnUpload">Upload file</a>

On document ready, we bind to the click event of the button to call the main method:

$(document).ready(function () {
    $('#btnUpload').click(function () {
        UploadFile($('#uploadFile')[0].files);
        }
    )
});

Our UploadFile method does the work of splitting the file into chunks, and as in our C# example, passing the chunks off to another method for transfer. The main difference here is that in C#, we created individual files, in our JavaScript example, we are taking the chunks from an array instead.

function UploadFile(TargetFile)
{
    // create array to store the buffer chunks
    var FileChunk = [];
    // the file object itself that we will work with
    var file = TargetFile[0];
    // set up other initial vars
    var MaxFileSizeMB = 1;
    var BufferChunkSize = MaxFileSizeMB * (1024 * 1024);
    var ReadBuffer_Size = 1024;
    var FileStreamPos = 0;
    // set the initial chunk length
    var EndPos = BufferChunkSize;
    var Size = file.size;

    // add to the FileChunk array until we get to the end of the file
    while (FileStreamPos < Size)
    {
        // "slice" the file from the starting position/offset, to  the required length
        FileChunk.push(file.slice(FileStreamPos, EndPos));
        FileStreamPos = EndPos; // jump by the amount read
        EndPos = FileStreamPos + BufferChunkSize; // set next chunk length
    }
    // get total number of "files" we will be sending
    var TotalParts = FileChunk.length;
    var PartCount = 0;
    // loop through, pulling the first item from the array each time and sending it
    while (chunk = FileChunk.shift())
    {
        PartCount++;
        // file name convention
        var FilePartName = file.name + ".part_" + PartCount + "." + TotalParts;
        // send the file
        UploadFileChunk(chunk, FilePartName);
    }
}

The UploadFileChunk takes the part of the file handed by the previous method, and posts it to the server in a similar manner to the C# example:

function UploadFileChunk(Chunk, FileName)
{
    var FD = new FormData();
    FD.append('file', Chunk, FileName);
    $.ajax({
        type: "POST",
        url: 'http://localhost:8170/Home/UploadFile/',
        contentType: false,
        processData: false,
        data: FD
    });
}

File Merge

NB: The JavaScript code, and the C# Merge code are contained in the attached demo file "MVCServer".

Over on the server, be that MVC or Web-API, we receive the individual file chunks and need to merge them back together again into the original file.

The first thing we do is put a standard POST handler in place to receive the file chunks being posted up to the server. This code takes the input stream, and saves it to a temp folder using the file-name created by the client (C# or JavaScript). Once the file is saved, the code then calls the "MergeFile" method which checks if it has enough file chunks available yet to merge the file together. Note that this is simply the method I have used for this article. You may decide to handle the merge trigger differently, for example, running a job on a timer every few minutes, passing off to another process, etc. It should be changed depending on your own required implementation:

[HttpPost]
public HttpResponseMessage UploadFile()
{
    foreach (string file in Request.Files)
    {
        var FileDataContent = Request.Files[file];
        if (FileDataContent != null && FileDataContent.ContentLength > 0)
        {
            // take the input stream, and save it to a temp folder using
            // the original file.part name posted
            var stream = FileDataContent.InputStream;
            var fileName = Path.GetFileName(FileDataContent.FileName);
            var UploadPath = Server.MapPath("~/App_Data/uploads");
            Directory.CreateDirectory(UploadPath);
            string path = Path.Combine(UploadPath, fileName);
            try
            {
                if (System.IO.File.Exists(path))
                    System.IO.File.Delete(path);
                using (var fileStream = System.IO.File.Create(path))
                {
                    stream.CopyTo(fileStream);
                }
                // Once the file part is saved, see if we have enough to merge it
                Shared.Utils UT = new Shared.Utils();
                UT.MergeFile(path);
            }
            catch (IOException ex)
            {
               // handle
            }
        }
    }
    return new HttpResponseMessage()
    {
        StatusCode = System.Net.HttpStatusCode.OK,
        Content = new StringContent("File uploaded.")
    };
}

Each time we call the MergeFile method, it first checks to see if we have all of the file chunk parts required to merge the original file back together again. It determines this by parsing the file-names. If all files are present, the method sorts them into the correct order, and then appends one to another until the original file that was split, is back together again.

/// <summary>
/// original name + ".part_N.X" (N = file part number, X = total files)
/// Objective = enumerate files in folder, look for all matching parts of
/// split file. If found, merge and return true.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="FileName"></param>
/// <returns></returns>
public bool MergeFile(string FileName)
{
    bool rslt = false;
    // parse out the different tokens from the filename according to the convention
    string partToken = ".part_";
    string baseFileName = FileName.Substring(0, FileName.IndexOf(partToken));
    string trailingTokens = FileName.Substring(FileName.IndexOf(partToken) + partToken.Length);
    int FileIndex = 0;
    int FileCount = 0;
    int.TryParse(trailingTokens.Substring(0, trailingTokens.IndexOf(".")), out FileIndex);
    int.TryParse(trailingTokens.Substring(trailingTokens.IndexOf(".") + 1), out FileCount);
    // get a list of all file parts in the temp folder
    string Searchpattern = Path.GetFileName(baseFileName) + partToken + "*";
    string[] FilesList = Directory.GetFiles(Path.GetDirectoryName(FileName), Searchpattern);
    //  merge .. improvement would be to confirm individual parts are there / correctly in
    // sequence, a security check would also be important
    // only proceed if we have received all the file chunks
    if (FilesList.Count() == FileCount)
    {
        // use a singleton to stop overlapping processes
        if (!MergeFileManager.Instance.InUse(baseFileName))
        {
            MergeFileManager.Instance.AddFile(baseFileName);
            if (File.Exists(baseFileName))
                File.Delete(baseFileName);
            // add each file located to a list so we can get them into
            // the correct order for rebuilding the file
            List<SortedFile> MergeList = new List<SortedFile>();
            foreach (string File in FilesList)
            {
                SortedFile sFile = new SortedFile();
                sFile.FileName = File;
                baseFileName = File.Substring(0, File.IndexOf(partToken));
                trailingTokens = File.Substring(File.IndexOf(partToken) + partToken.Length);
                int.TryParse(trailingTokens.
                   Substring(0, trailingTokens.IndexOf(".")), out FileIndex);
                sFile.FileOrder = FileIndex;
                MergeList.Add(sFile);
            }
            // sort by the file-part number to ensure we merge back in the correct order
            var MergeOrder = MergeList.OrderBy(s => s.FileOrder).ToList();
            using (FileStream FS = new FileStream(baseFileName, FileMode.Create))
            {
                // merge each file chunk back into one contiguous file stream
                foreach (var chunk in MergeOrder)
                {
                    try
                    {
                        using (FileStream fileChunk =
                           new FileStream(chunk.FileName, FileMode.Open))
                        {
                            fileChunk.CopyTo(FS);
                        }
                    }
                    catch (IOException ex)
                    {
                        // handle
                    }
                }
            }
            rslt = true;
            // unlock the file from singleton
            MergeFileManager.Instance.RemoveFile(baseFileName);
        }
    }
    return rslt;
}

Using the file split on the client-side, and file-merge on the server-side, we now have a very workable solution for uploading large files in a more secure manner than simply sending up in one large block of data. For testing, I used some large image files converted to a BMP from a hubble picture here. If the article is useful to you, please give it a vote at the top of the page! :)

History

  • 29/09/2015 - Version 1

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Share

About the Author

DataBytzAI
Chief Technology Officer The DataWorks
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allen is a consulting architect with a background in enterprise systems. His current obsessions are IoT, Big Data and Machine Learning. When not chained to his desk he can be found fixing broken things, playing music very badly or trying to shape things out of wood. He runs his own company specializing in systems architecture and scaling for big data and is involved in a number of technology startups.

Allen is a chartered engineer, a Fellow of the British Computing Society, and a Microsoft MVP. He writes for CodeProject, C-Sharp Corner and DZone. He currently completing a PhD in AI and is also a ball throwing slave for his dogs.

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Member 145359889-Oct-20 22:34
MemberMember 145359889-Oct-20 22:34 
Questionprogress bar or loader image Pin
Member 1279173313-Apr-20 0:53
MemberMember 1279173313-Apr-20 0:53 
QuestionMVCServer.zip can not download Pin
Member 140379851-Dec-19 2:25
MemberMember 140379851-Dec-19 2:25 
QuestionHow to wait for the Merge process to finish before moving on to the controller Pin
Member 1082600927-Mar-18 5:06
MemberMember 1082600927-Mar-18 5:06 
AnswerRe: How to wait for the Merge process to finish before moving on to the controller Pin
Member 1082600927-Mar-18 9:21
MemberMember 1082600927-Mar-18 9:21 
QuestionUnsufficient Resource?? Pin
JT one11-Jun-17 22:20
MemberJT one11-Jun-17 22:20 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
aharisankar20-Apr-17 0:24
Memberaharisankar20-Apr-17 0:24 
PraisePerfect way to upload large files. Pin
Member 40860357-Apr-17 20:38
MemberMember 40860357-Apr-17 20:38 
QuestionMultiple files check on post handler? Pin
Dale_ONeill3-Aug-16 17:29
MemberDale_ONeill3-Aug-16 17:29 
AnswerRe: Multiple files check on post handler? Pin
DataBytzAI4-Aug-16 0:39
professionalDataBytzAI4-Aug-16 0:39 
GeneralCan you provide the Audit trail and data versioning with C# and ASP.NET Web Forms? Pin
gandhichintan19-Jul-16 4:53
Membergandhichintan19-Jul-16 4:53 
GeneralRe: Can you provide the Audit trail and data versioning with C# and ASP.NET Web Forms? Pin
DataBytzAI31-Jul-16 7:04
professionalDataBytzAI31-Jul-16 7:04 
GeneralRe: Can you provide the Audit trail and data versioning with C# and ASP.NET Web Forms? Pin
gandhichintan7-Dec-16 23:37
Membergandhichintan7-Dec-16 23:37 
GeneralRe: Can you provide the Audit trail and data versioning with C# and ASP.NET Web Forms? Pin
DataBytzAI7-Dec-16 23:43
professionalDataBytzAI7-Dec-16 23:43 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
D V L8-Jul-16 8:13
professionalD V L8-Jul-16 8:13 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
DataBytzAI8-Jul-16 8:45
professionalDataBytzAI8-Jul-16 8:45 
QuestionIs transfer error control planned ? Pin
Dmitriy Gakh11-May-16 9:24
professionalDmitriy Gakh11-May-16 9:24 
AnswerRe: Is transfer error control planned ? Pin
DataBytzAI11-May-16 12:34
professionalDataBytzAI11-May-16 12:34 
QuestionNot Deleting individual chunks from server after merging file Pin
Pawan Tiwari9328-Apr-16 4:03
professionalPawan Tiwari9328-Apr-16 4:03 
AnswerRe: Not Deleting individual chunks from server after merging file Pin
DataBytzAI28-Apr-16 4:12
professionalDataBytzAI28-Apr-16 4:12 
GeneralRe: Not Deleting individual chunks from server after merging file Pin
Pawan Tiwari9328-Apr-16 4:37
professionalPawan Tiwari9328-Apr-16 4:37 
GeneralRe: Not Deleting individual chunks from server after merging file Pin
DataBytzAI28-Apr-16 4:39
professionalDataBytzAI28-Apr-16 4:39 
GeneralRe: Not Deleting individual chunks from server after merging file Pin
Pawan Tiwari9328-Apr-16 4:48
professionalPawan Tiwari9328-Apr-16 4:48 
GeneralRe: Not Deleting individual chunks from server after merging file Pin
Member 1376406911-Mar-19 1:01
MemberMember 1376406911-Mar-19 1:01 
Questiontell me about one line of code Pin
Tridip Bhattacharjee8-Feb-16 3:58
professionalTridip Bhattacharjee8-Feb-16 3:58 

General General    News News    Suggestion Suggestion    Question Question    Bug Bug    Answer Answer    Joke Joke    Praise Praise    Rant Rant    Admin Admin   

Use Ctrl+Left/Right to switch messages, Ctrl+Up/Down to switch threads, Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right to switch pages.