The following guide will provide insight on how to troubleshoot high inode usage on your server.
Inode is a Linux and other Unix-like data structure used to keep information about a file on your server. This includes everything on your account including files, folders, emails, code, etc. The number of inodes indicates the number of files and folders you have. Therefore, the more files and folders you have on your server, the higher your inode usage will be.
Keep in mind, inode usage differs from disk space usage. Disk space refers to the size of your files size (KB, MB, GB). However, inode refers to the number of files you have.
As an example, let's suppose you are using 20GB / 30GB on your server. This will make you well within your disk space usage. However, if you have hundreds of thousands of very small files within that 20GB, the inode usage could end up negatively affecting the performance of your server.
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Clear old or spam emails
A good place to start is to examine your email users:
- Do you have any old users that are no longer in use?
- Do you have users with large spam folders?
- Do you have a backlog of old emails?
If so, you may want to go through and clear these mailboxes using a mail client or webmail.
For safety you can create backups of your users/mailboxes before clearing them:
- Backup Options
- How to backup/restore email using Thunderbird
- How to backup/restore email using Outlook
- How to backup/restore email using Apple Mail
Clearing cache files
Some CMS (WordPress, Joomla, etc) or other third-party applications on your website(s) may have caching systems in place which can create cache files and increase inode usage. You may want to clear these manually, or set up scripts in place to clear these automatically.
If you are unsure if your website(s) uses caching, you may want to contact your website's developer for more details.
Deleting unnecessary files and folders
Over time your website(s) and server can slowly accumulate old or unnecessary files. If left unchecked this can cause high inode usage.
You can connect to your server via SSH and run a find command to try and troubleshoot where large amount of inodes may be residing:
for i in * ; do echo -n " $i: " ; find $i | wc -l ; done