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There are multiple topics asking where, and answer giving websites such as Blend-Exchange, but not much guidance on how to do it, what to include, ...

Thing is, while for most questions it's just a matter of giving the above link, sometimes the file is too big, or messy. We occasionally have someone who have a file of several hundred of MB because it has 8k textures everywhere, while the issue is about rigging.

So this will be a guide. I post the answer with it, and I invite everyone to edit that answer to make it a good summary of what to do and not do to send files. Plus, I usually tend to spit long walls of texts, so if anyone is comfortable to make it short and concise, go for it!

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    $\begingroup$ Nice guide, thanks for posting. I only skimmed over the answer but it might be a good candidate for a canonical guide and linking in canned comments $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2023 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ I'd argue that 90-99% of uploaded files on Blend Exchange are a waste. They could either have been replaced with a couple of screenshots, a diagram, a short gif or a more accurate description. I would even be in favor of banning them from questions, I think that if your question warrants a full blend file, it's too large in scope. They have their place in answers, although it deprives the reader from having to re-create it themselves which is a great exercise. $\endgroup$
    – Gorgious
    Oct 9, 2023 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Most questions which require a blend file are IMO low effort questions anyways, they are often 1 or 2 sentences long. The authors usually don't take the 5 minutes to read the code of conduct and philosophy of the site so I am afraid they won't take the time to read neither this question or the answer in full, as thorough and canonical as they may be... Downloading random files from random sources on the internet also poses a serious security risk, since arbitrary code can be run with the python API. There are safeguards to prevent malicious stuff but it's easy to deactivate them in the prefs. $\endgroup$
    – Gorgious
    Oct 9, 2023 at 17:22

1 Answer 1

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In short:

  1. Make a small file (remove anything not needed for the issue, then file > save as > enable Compress in the sidebar and save a new file)
  2. Pack external files and libraries if needed (File > External Data > Pack...)
  3. Upload on Blend-Exchange
  4. Copy the provided text into your question.

Why upload a file

Some questions are hard to understand with just textual descriptions and pictures, or the answer needs to be closely adapted to the situation.

Having access to the blend file makes it easier to see the issue and make a well documented answer.

However, it never replaces a good written question.

NDA, licensing and privacy concerns

If there are assets you can't show because of an NDA or license, always first try to recreate the issue in a new clean scene without the problematic assets. If you can't:

Check with the NDA/License holders if they can help with the issue. If you use a licensed asset that have an issue, the provider usually provides support for it.
If they can't help with the issue: make sure they are ok to share, propose to conceal the data if it helps.

You can always remove all data that we shouldn't see and leave only the strictly necessary. Even a mesh or an armature can be deleted down to only a few faces and bones that are problematic.

Regardless: DO NOT POST ANYTHING the NDA/License holder does not specifically agree to. It's not worth getting you or BSE in trouble.

For privacy: Blender saves paths to your .blend and external data/libraries, which can leak project names or your own legal name if you use named user accounts. If you don't want to disclose these:

  1. Menu File > External Data > Make all paths relative
  2. Menu File > External Data > Pack Resources/Linked Libraries
  3. Move your file to an anonymous location (I.E. C:\tmp on Windows)
  4. Menu File > External Data > Unpack Resources/Linked Libraries > Write Files to current Directory
  5. Continue with the rest of the guide.

This way, all your external data that are needed in your file will have an anonymous path.

Where to upload

Our preferred choice:

  • Built by the community for BSE
  • Stores files on Google Drive (and Backblaze)
  • Files don't get deleted
  • Open source
  • 30 MB per file

You might actually have already seen it before, as the following picture in a question:

Learn more

The only downside to this method is its file size limit: 30MB. But to be clear, it should be enough for most questions. See next chapter.

Other solutions:

  • Google Drive
    • 15 GB total space
    • no time limit
  • easyupload.io
    • 10 GB per file
    • 50 files max
    • 50 GB total space
    • 30 days limit
  • WeTransfer
    • 2 GB per file
    • 7 days limit
  • pCloud
    • no file size limit
    • 10 GB total space
    • 50 GB traffic per month
    • no time limit
    • Hosted either in the EU or on international servers

Prepare a file for sharing

A couple of things you MUST pay attention to:

  1. File decluttering
  2. External data

File decluttering

Decluttering is necessary for two reasons: to keep the file size low, and have a clean file that is easy for us to work with.

We highly recommend you to make your file under 30 MB in any possible scenario: so that you can upload on Blend-Exchange, but also to make sure your file can be downloaded by people with slow network. A file over 30 MB must have a really good reason to be this heavy (for example: the problem is caused by file size directly or indirectly, e.g. by the huge number of vertices).

Please follow these three steps in order:

1. Compressing a file
  1. Use the menu File > Save As
  2. Add _share at the end of the name of the file
  3. Press N to open the sidebar (or click the ⚙ gear icon), and enable the "Compress" checkbox.
  4. Click the "Save As" button.

compressing a file demo

2. Removing Data

Remove any data that you are sure is not related to your issue. Such as:

  • image texture files
  • video files
  • objects

To easily select and delete data in bulk, you can set your outliner mode to "Blender File":

Once you are done deleting, there are probably some data that is now an "orphan": still there in the file but not used by anything. To clear them, set the outliner to "Orphan Data", hit the "Purge" button (ideally multiple times, as something could be used by an orphan and become an orphan itself after its user is purged), and save.

3. Names and Collections

Put objects in collections, give them meaningful names. If the first thing we see in your file is a hundred objects with the exact same name and no clue which does what, we will have to lose time just deciphering your scene. But you already know your scene, it will take less time for you to make it simple to understand. Help us helping you!

External Data

External data can be things like image and video files, but also assets linked from other .blend files.

If you have any of these, you should pack "external data" and "libraries", which you can do in this menu:

Save after you are done.

After cleanup

Make sure the issue is still visible, in case you deleted what was causing it.

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    $\begingroup$ Personally I recommend to decrease the file size below $1 MB$. I'm almost willing to bet I can take any problem and reproduce it within that size. The better you are at asking questions, the less likely you are to actually post the question - most of mine were never posted, because I do my part, and upon simplifying the problem I find the issue. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2023 at 14:54

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