What the heck is an iNode and do I have an inode limit?

unlimited hosting In computing, an iNode is a data structure on a file system that stores basic information about a regular file, directory, or other file system object. Each iNode has an number to identify it, and whenever you create a file or a folder you’re creating an iNode. Even if the file is really, really, really small.

For example, a fresh install of Joomla uses around 5683 iNodes – and that’s before you do anything else to it.

To set limits on “unlimited” hosting (don’t get me started), many hosts created iNode limits, and when you hit them, your host can take various actions like not doing backups for you all the way to kicking you off or forcing you to a VPS.

Disk limits didn’t really ever go away – they simply shifted from easily understood disk space space to not so easily understood iNode limitations.

Like almost anything else in shared hosting, 98% of you don’t hit this, and it’s not a concern. For those that do, though, it’s a big concern, especially on sites that tend to create a lot of files. Since people are starting to discover this hidden little clause in the “unlimited” offerings that abound, we’re starting to get questions about it, like:

With the higher disk space allotments, are you still going to do backups?

Are there new inode restrictions?

My other host limits inodes instead of disk space, and after a certain number they won’t do backups.

We do not, and do not plan to have, iNode restrictions as we don’t actually offer unlimited hosting and don’t have to put other restrictions on your site to keep you from actually using the “unlimited” space.

iNode numbers are also not a concern with regard to backups here at the moment.

Most cPanel hosts tend to do compressed backups – this means the entire site is packaged every single time it’s backed up (along with your email, your system files, and everything else), and that backup is stored somewhere.

Compressing huge web sites is incredibly resource intensive and can take hours for a full server, so shared hosts with clients that have huge and enormous sites taking up huge and enormous amounts of space run into an issue compressing those sites not just because they are huge, but because they have thousands upon thousands upon thousands of files.

Some hosting companies have ceased doing compressed backups because of just how resource intensive they are, and instead, switched to incremental backups. What that means is that they compare the backup with your site and bring over only what’s changed – this is far more efficient from a resource perspective, though obviously it takes up far more disk space.

And so there you have it – no hidden inode restrictions, and due to the way we take backups, we do not plan to have inode restrictions on our accounts.

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