Troubleshooting high inode usage

Browse by products and services

  • Applies to: VPS Hosting
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Time Needed: 10-15
    • Tools Required: Email, FTP, or SSH Access


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.

Please keep in mind that troubleshooting the configuration/functionality of third-party applications is not covered by our statement of support. These resources were provided as a courtesy to assist you to the extent of our abilities. For more information on our statement of support, feel free to click here.


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:

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
The output will look similar to the following:

The file paths with large numbers will indicate where the greatest amount of inode usage is coming from. You can then navigate into the larger folders and continue to run the command again until you narrow down specific folders/files with high inode usage. You can then remove these files using SSH, FTP, or File Manager.

If you are unsure which files can be safely removed, it's recommended to contact your website developer for assistance. We also recommend making a backup of your server before removing any files.