Whenever you’re looking for a web hosting company the last thing you will probably pay attention to is inodes. Honestly, lets face it when you’re in the market for a new host there are a number of things that people tend to overlook. Inodes are just one of those things that newbie webmasters will overlook. Chances are they will find out what they are when their web hosting account gets suspended. This is a very common problem with shared hosting, but still can be a problem with VPS, Reseller, and dedicated servers.
Ok, let me explain this the simplest way I know how. I’m not going to give you some big technical term from Wikipedia.com or anything that is going to confuse you more. Basically, lets say Molly has a WordPress site. It could be any CMS; I am just using WordPress for an example. She installs WordPress and about 4-5 plugins. In the MySQL database this is a table which tells the server how to process the information. Molly, then uploads 20 pictures; you guessed it that means she is using more inodes. Then she goes on her way and publish 40 post/pages over the next 5 months. Even, more inodes are being created. Over time it will grow very quickly.
Inodes are either readable, writable, or have an execute function. So basically, if you install plugins, images, themes, etc. these are all using inodes. Many web host do have limits to the amount of inodes they allow on their hosting plans. This number will vary from host to host. I actually love this plugin WP Optimize because it allows you to clean up your MySQL databases and frees up some inodes. Be sure to check it out if you have been suspended or are concerned about your resource usage. I have written an article on resource usage that you will find helpful, too.
Obviously, you have probably seen a number of host offering unlimited bandwidth, space, resources, etc. A lot of respectable hosts do this like InMotion Hosting. So InMotion won’t tell you upfront how many inodes you can use. Does that make them bad? No the reason being is they don’t have a set number that they allow or don’t allow. A real life example is I reached the maximum number on my VPS and just contacted them because I couldn’t publish anymore posts on tbwhs.com. I was like what is going on. They explained that my inode limit had been reached. They just made some adjustments on the backend and I was good to go. (Since, then I have cleaned up my servers a lot, but I had no idea it had become that clustered.) I used 700,000 out of 700,000. I did clean up my server and InMotion did up my inode count from 700,000 to 12,000,000. My new inode usage is now 489,281. So you can see I saved about 200,000 by cleaning up my server.
So when you login to your cPanel with Hostgator.com, Siteground.com, Doteasy.com or any host that uses cPanel you should be able to see your inode limit. From the screenshot below you will see exactly what it will look like:
I actually took the time to jump on live chat with various web hosting companies to see what I could find out about their inode usage. I picked 10 companies completely by random and asked them what they accepted on their shared hosting plans. Here is a graphic that I made which shows you what they will allow on their shared servers:
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what inodes are, and why you shouldn’t just completely disregard the term when you see it. Please do let me know if you have any questions about inodes that are not addressed in this article. Please leave your comments down below.
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Damon Kinney says
Man, I really had no idea what an Inode was. I currently use Hostgator for one of my websites and BlueHost for the other. I have not run into this problem just yet, but I am going to be heading over to my hosting page to see exactly where I stand with my Inodes.
Question though, Are you also saying that server sharing can clog up your Inodes even if it is not you that is running up the Inodes? For example; HostGator has x amount of websites sharing a hosting server, do other people’s sites affect my Inodes if the have reached their limit? or the limit for the server in general?
Thanks for sharing this post by the way I really had no idea. Oh, I am also sorry to hear how you learned about Inodes too, nothing like finding out first hand I bet 🙁
In your cPanel, you should be able to see how many inodes you are using on your server for both of those hosting companies. If you need help with this, you can contact them, and they should be able to let you know.
The inodes are independent based on each shared hosting account that you have. Meaning that other sites or shared accounts on your shared account act independently. This is one way that a lot of hosts limit the resources that you can actually use. Once you start exceeding these limitations you’re soon to get a notice saying your web hosting account has been suspended.
This is a very common issue, and I have seen it so many times in 6+ years.
Please note this only applies to shared servers. VPS, dedicated, and reseller plans allow much more inodes.
Hopefully, this clarifies any questions or concerns that you might have. If not, please leave a comment, and I will try to answer it better for you.
Damon Kinney says
No that cleared it up. Thanks again for the info on Inodes, something to keep an eye on to say the least.
Marcus Cross says
Hey, I’d never even heard of inodes before, so thanks for making me learn something new. I didn’t realise it would make such a difference to clean up the WordPress database, but again, learn something new every day.
Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment 🙂
Thanks, it’s a useful article. How about Inmotion hosting inodes limit?
They don’t have a limit. They can manually bump you up for your VPS, and dedicated plans. Not sure about their shared plans, though.
It doesn’t go into “why” though. When you find out about this from cloning an existing system into shared storage about 30 million inodes into it, at maybe 10MB/s you wonder why they crippled it in the first place, and why they act like they are doing you a favor by bumping it some trivial amount.
lots of files=dedicated hard disk (=more performance anyway than a SAN/NFS anyway).