At NameHero we limit the number of Inodes per cPanel account (on Basic and Reseller hosting) to 100,000 (soft limit) and 250,000 (hard limit).
What the heck is an inode and why is it limited?
An inode is a data structure in a Unix-style file system that describes a filesystem object such as a file or a directory. Each inode stores the attributes and disk block location(s) of the object’s data. Filesystem object attributes may include metadata (times of last change, access, modification), as well as owner and permission data. Directories are lists of names assigned to inodes. A directory contains an entry for itself, its parent, and each of its children.
That’s the best definition I could get provided by Wikipedia. But in short, I just tell customers to consider an inode a file.
We place these type of limits on our Basic and Reseller hosting packages to optimize for performance. If we didn’t have such limits in place, we wouldn’t be able to provide servers with blazing fast speed.
How many inodes does the average website use?
The average small business WordPress website uses around 5,000 Inodes. This amount greatly increases if you utilize email on your web hosting account.
The majority of websites looking for shared or reseller hosting won’t ever have to worry about this limit. However websites with a lot of files that aren’t properly maintained will run into these type of issues.
Keep your file structure clean
Especially for those that have had their website online for many years, it’s easy to start accumulating files that are no longer needed.
If you utilize a caching plugin for WordPress, it’s possible you need to truncate your caching directory a couple of times a month to keep things clean and organized.
Another big reason for increased Inodes is storing large amounts of email on the server. Users should download these emails to their computer or at least make sure to truncate / clean their spam box regularly.
Limit the number of add-on domains
I’ve blogged a lot about the best practices when it comes to hosting multiple domains / websites.
This is the biggest reason why you should invest in a Reseller hosting package if you’re wanting to host more than one website as the Inode limit will be “fresh” with each cPanel account you create.
If you have lots of add-on and sub domains, you’ll quickly increase the number of Inodes on your account.
What happens if you hit the limit?
We have two limits. The first is 100,000 soft, meaning the account will still function but you’ll have a warning message in your cPanel.
At this point in time there isn’t a need to panic, but it should serve as a reminder to start doing some basic website “house keeping” to reduce the limit. As stated above, this may include deleting some old files and/or emails.
Once you hit the 250,000 hard limit the account will cease to function. Meaning you’ll no longer be able to upload new files, receive emails, etc. until you bring that number down.
Most customers that reach the 250,000 hard limit find that cleaning up their file structure solves their problem. For those that still have an issue, an account upgrade maybe needed.
Our Basic Business package allows for 250,000 soft / 500,000 hard limit. Unfortunately though accounts with 100,000 or more inodes aren’t included in our complimentary daily backups.
Websites that reach this level also maybe simply too big for shared hosting and need their own Virtual Private Server. All of our VPS hosting packages do not include any type of Inode limit.
We’re here to help
As said above, we place these type of limits on our accounts to keep our servers running at optimal performance. When I first started Name Hero, I said I didn’t want to impose such limits, but quickly learned that wasn’t a reality if I wanted to be able to offer extremely fast web hosting coupled with 99.9% uptime.
Therefore if you have any questions over these limits or would like to know how you can clean-up your account, feel free to reach out and we’d be happy to help!
Ryan Gray is the founder and CEO of NameHero, one of the fastest growing independent web hosts in the United States. Ryan has been working online since 1998 and has over two-decades experience in Internet Entrepreneurship.
Thanks Ryan for the good inode reading here.
I just encountered issues with SiteGround warning me about inode sizes which irate me since I still have a very large disk space left and yet my inode size is compromising my websites. I just thought, that you only have to worry about your disk space and no other.
You said that the server needs to implement inode limit so website can perform faster.
Well, for me. It is implemented so owners will be forced to upgrade to a much higher plan. Business is business. Why can’t they store those inodes on the disk drive is space or size is the concern.
Ryan Gray says
Thanks for your comment!
I COMPLETELY get your frustration; that’s super annoying and we’ve had customers pretty pissed over it as well.
But sitting in my chair – it’s actually very important.
A disk inside of a server can only handle so many Inodes (and also so many safely). Each Inode contains very important information about each file – they are stored in the same place – it’s not possible to offload to another disk.
Information contained in an inode:
Device on which the file is stored
User and group IDs associated with the file
Permissions needed to access the file
Creation, read, and write timestamps
Location of the data (though not the filepath)
So without a corresponding Inode – a file cannot be validated (hence corruption).
If a host doesn’t have sometime of limit in place (either disk or inode) – then you’re going to eventually see downtime/corruption on a shared server (meaning the data is going to be no good).
Additionally, the more Inodes on a disk, the longer things are going to take to get fixed if something goes wrong. Disk failure/corruption is going to happen at some point or another (they don’t run for infinity) – but it’s the process in place to handle these events which makes all the difference.
Explanation aside, I always encourage customers to check their caching/mail directories to ensure these are cleaned up (i.e. remove old cache files/emails) to see if that helps.
If it doesn’t – and you have legitimate needs for a lot of Inodes – it’s prob best (and safer) to get a VPS where you’re the only tenant on it (vs. shared hosting).
I know a lot of this comes down to budget – but other suggestions would be to offload services such as email to another service.
Hope this helps explain the situation!