What is Inode? What is Inode Limit?

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Owners of large websites and those hosting multiple websites on the same hosting company should consider the question: What is Inode?

Inodes, which are the basic components of file systems, are structures that carry out their functions independently and go unnoticed unless an issue related to usage limits is encountered.

What is Inode?

Inode, short for index node, refers to the index node directory in the file system. Inodes are small directory files working behind the scenes of the file system. When you upload a file to your website or any disk, the data creating the file is stored across multiple blocks. These blocks are not always organized in groups. They could be scattered across different areas of the disk.

Inode contains instructions that allow the file system to locate data on the disk, as well as descriptive data such as file sizes, ownership, and permissions.

Additionally, data such as file type, file access, deletion and modification dates, and the number of links are also stored in inodes.

Linux and other Unix-like operating systems consider everything, such as keyboards, mice, printers, monitors, hard disks, processes, and directories, as files. Inodes are used by the Linux file system to define and perform operations on files, assisting in organizing files. In the Linux system, a file is internally identified not by its name but by its inode number. This also ensures the preservation of multiple hard links, as files with different names can point to the same inode.

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It's important to note that Inode usage depends on many factors beyond the number of pages your WordPress website has. For example, an advanced WP theme with numerous customization options can consist of hundreds or even thousands of files, regardless of whether you use all the extra features. On the other hand, a simple WordPress theme might only contain 50 or 60 files.

A simple WordPress website with just a few installed plugins and themes and a few posts typically uses between 9,000 to 13,000 inodes.

A blog with approximately 3-5 images per post, 250 posts, and around 30 plugins typically uses around 25,000 inodes.

Even a small business website with only one page and six installed plugins can use up to 17,000 inodes.

In summary, a website with a complex theme may require significantly more inodes than a website running a simple theme, even if the former has fewer posts and pages.

Generally, it's not very likely for an amateur WordPress website, updated with new posts every few weeks, to require more than 35,000 inodes even after running for several years.

What is Inode Limit? What is its Purpose?

Each file in the system corresponds to an inode. Every file, regardless of its size, uses a single inode in the file system.

As it is known, websites are composed of files stored on servers. Inode limit specifies the maximum number of files and folders you can store on your server. So, when a hosting company sets an inode limit to 200,000, it means your website cannot exceed 200,000 files and folders.

If there are no limitations, a single user on the server can use all the available inodes, even if they are using relatively little storage space.

Creating or using a large number of small files on a website designed for this purpose might not seem like an issue. This is because hundreds of thousands of small files occupy very little storage space but consume a lot of inodes. Therefore, a folder using a lot of storage space might not cause an inode usage problem: For example, if you upload a long, high-resolution video to your site, it might only use a single inode despite using 100MB of storage space.

A hosting account can reach the inode limit before hitting a storage space limit. Inode quotas are in place to prevent a single user on a server from consuming all available inodes.

Generally, when you start approaching your Inode limit, your hosting provider will send you a warning email with suggestions on how to reduce the number of files your website is using.

If you cannot reduce the number of files and still exceed your limit, your website can be shut down until you take the following actions:

  • Deleting files to clean up inodes.
  • Upgrading to a hosting plan with higher Inode limits.

Additionally, automatic backups for your website can be discontinued.

Finally, another important point to note in this regard is that hosting companies' promises of 'unlimited' storage space, unfortunately, do not mean there is no inode limit.

How Is the Inode Cleanup Process Done?

The only way to reduce inode usage is to reduce file usage because the more complex your folder structure is, the more inodes you consume. Here are the ways to clean up inodes:

  1. Delete Unused Files.

    The first way to reduce inode usage is to delete unused files, themes, and plugins. When you delete a file, its inode is also removed. You should be aware that each outdated or unnecessary plugin and theme counts towards your inode quota (It's generally recommended to keep your active theme and a parent theme; having the core theme installed but deactivated allows you to troubleshoot potential issues). Additionally, you should aim to keep plugin usage minimal to ensure fast website loading.
  1. Use Cloud Storage

    The second most effective method is to use external file storage solutions. Major companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft offer cloud storage systems.
  1. Check Your Emails

    When it comes to inode usage, emails are often overlooked. If you have an email account used to send thousands of emails in an email marketing campaign and you haven't cleared your 'sent' folder, this email account could be responsible for thousands of inodes. Even an email account you haven't used for a while, with hundreds or even thousands of messages accumulated in the spam folder, could mean a significant number of inodes. Cleaning up old emails or large spam folders can free up a considerable amount of inode space.

  2. Regularly clear the expired cache of your website.

    Cache plugins, which do wonders to speed up your website and enhance performance, also create a significant surplus of inodes.


If you are a first-time website owner, you may not need to worry about the inode limit; the likelihood of having enough files to surpass your site's inode limits is low. Most hosting providers' inode limits are generous enough to ensure that beginners don't face any issues in the first few years. However, experienced users with large websites and those planning to host multiple websites on the same hosting company should consider inode limits.

To determine how many inodes you might need initially, you can refer to the approximate values mentioned in the 'What is Inode?' section above.

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