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What does the inode limit mean

One of the limits in the control panel is the inode limit. What is it, and what happens when you reach it?

What is an inode?

In short: every file and directory on your hosting account is an inode.

Unix-like systems, like Linux and macOS, use inodes to store information about files and directories. Every file and directory on a computer has an inode. A file system has limited number of inodes it can store, and the more inodes are on a system, the longer it takes to look up files. So too many inodes on the server means the whole server will slow down. For more details, please see the Wikipedia page about inodes.

In your hosting account, the inode counter shows the number of files and directories in your website. These are only the files and directories accessible through FTP and the file manager. Databases and emails do not counted towards the inode limit.

What happens if I hit the inode limit?

If the limit is reached, you will not be able to create any new files or directories on your account. Usually, your website will keep working for the most part. But some features which require a file to be created or uploaded won't work anymore.

Because of that's it's a good idea to make sure your account stays below the inode limit.

I'm using many inodes, should I be worried?

A big software suite can easily have thousands of files and directories. And every plugin and theme also adds more inodes. So if you have a big software suite, or multiple websites with such software, you can easily get up to 40-60% inode usage. This is normal, and no reason to be concerned.

As long as you're below 80% usage you don't need to worry about the limit.

How to decrease the inode usage?

Since inodes are just files and directories, decreasing your inode usage is straight forward: you need to delete files and directories on your account.

Here are a few ways you may be able to create some room:

  • Does your account have multiple domain names assigned to it? If so, you may be able to move those domains to separate hosting accounts on the same client area profile. Please note that you cannot have more than 3 hosting accounts though.
  • Did you remove a domain name from your account already? Please note that doing so doesn't automatically removed the files on that domain. So you can clear out the directories of any old domain names.
  • Check your existing websites for any old code that's no longer being used. Did you test drive another piece of software, or did you upload plugins and themes which you no longer use? Those can usually be deleted.
  • Do you have many uploaded files like images for an image gallery? If so, consider uploading those to a file or image hosting service instead.

How to increase the inode limit?

The inode limit on free hosting cannot be increased. However, premium hosting doesn't have an inode limit, so you can upgrade your account to get this limit removed.

I deleted many files, why doesn't my inode usage go down?

Please note that the inode counter in the control panel is not a live counter. It's only sampled once every so often (at least once per day).

So if you just added or removed many files and are wondering why your inode usage hasn't changed, just wait for some time for the counter to update.