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Thread: Inodes

  1. #1
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    Inodes

    Inodes are often the real limits on the amount of disk space you can use on an "unlimited" disk space plan. One popular "unlimited disk space" host limits inodes to 25,000. (An inode is a file, folder, or other "disk resource" used.) This is often a limit referenced in the Terms of Service, but my suspicion is that it is rarely understood by most consumers.

    So I looked at my accounts and sorted them by the highest number of inodes used. And I didn't find a direct correlation between disk space and inodes, which surprised me a little. I expected to be able to say something like "On average, 1 GB equals 20,000 inodes."

    I have an account using only 209 MB of disk space and almost 20,000 inodes. Its a Wordpress site with many themes, used for demonstrating them to potential customers. That site is very close to the 25,000 inode limit in only 209 MB of space.

    On the other hand, I have an account with a IPB forum that uses nearly 20,000 inodes but consumes 933 MB of disk space. That's closer to the ratio I thought I would find.

    The next 4 highest inode sites were the following, with # of inodes / MB:

    13210 / 637 MB (Wordpress and SMF forum site)
    11322 / 112 MB (Joomla and Wordpress site)
    11135 / 239 MB (e-commerce catalog site)
    8363 / 268 MB (Wordpress site)

  2. #2
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    Inodes/vnodes are a fundamental part of the traditional *NIX file systems (well no wonder they are rarely understood). It would seem that there is no direct correlation between the number of inodes and the size of the files stored because an inode only contains basic information "about" a given resource (type, owner, group, etc...). There is a default size for an inode, if memory serves me at one time it was 4096 bytes.

    There is a finite number of inodes available in any (*NIX) storage system, limiting the number used by each storage system user would just seem to be good housekeeping. This is not part of the "unlimited storage size" discussion.

    Inodes have also been known as "index numbers", this may help clear up part of their usage and why there is a limit.

  3. #3
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    Last time I checked my site I was using 150,000 inodes and my site is huge. At that time i was using about 12 gb of space. I would imagine the inodes I am using now is about 300,000 or more. I forgot how to check though. I know my site is almost 30 gb now.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by fshagan View Post
    So I looked at my accounts and sorted them by the highest number of inodes used. And I didn't find a direct correlation between disk space and inodes, which surprised me a little.
    Doesn't surprise me at all.

    Looking at a linux server right now, one directory has 20GB and only uses maybe 2 inodes. It's a single 20GB database file. At my work, we have multi-terabyte Oracle databases whose entire datafile filesystems are probably less than 100 inodes - a small number of very large datafiles.

    On the other hand, another directory with only 10GB might have 100,000 inodes if they're mostly small source code files, or a web cache, or a structure with a lot of subdirectories.

    Back in the oooolllld days (80s/early 90s) if was not uncommon for Unix admins like me who managed USENET to have abundant disk space but run out of inodes. Tons of small posts, each of which took an inode but not much disk space.

    I have an account using only 209 MB of disk space and almost 20,000 inodes. Its a Wordpress site with many themes, used for demonstrating them to potential customers. That site is very close to the 25,000 inode limit in only 209 MB of space.
    Probably most of the usage is image files (some themes may have hundreds), javascript files, .php, .css, etc. Lots of little files = more inodes per GB.

    Inodes is number of files and directories. KB/MB/GB/TB/PB is the combined sizes of the files. There's really no necessary relationship between them.

  5. #5
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    If you have big number of files, then the inode count also will be big . It is a 3 level file system data structure with hashing feature .

    You can also search on difference between ext3 and ext 4
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    Right, I knew the definition of what an inode was. What surprised me was that the statements you sometimes see ... that there's an average relationship between inodes and disk space ... doesn't seem to apply, even when comparing two sites running Wordpress.

    In some posts, hosts claim that their servers have "50,000 inodes per GB" (see http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showpo...9&postcount=11 for instance), and that's how they set inode limits. I think that's calculated by taking the available inodes divided by the disk space on the server.

    So the point is that inodes become the limit for some hosts, even though the average customer has no way to measure inodes (cPanel doesn't include it, for instance, and short of having shell access, I don't think you can obtain it any other way). It also makes the "file type limitations" the unlimited hosts enforce make more sense; you can't allow someone to actually use the "unlimited" space with a 50GB backup file that only takes one or two inodes (folder and file).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by fshagan View Post
    Right, I knew the definition of what an inode was. What surprised me was that the statements you sometimes see ... that there's an average relationship between inodes and disk space ... doesn't seem to apply, even when comparing two sites running Wordpress.

    In some posts, hosts claim that their servers have "50,000 inodes per GB" (see http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showpo...9&postcount=11 for instance), and that's how they set inode limits. I think that's calculated by taking the available inodes divided by the disk space on the server.

    So the point is that inodes become the limit for some hosts, even though the average customer has no way to measure inodes (cPanel doesn't include it, for instance, and short of having shell access, I don't think you can obtain it any other way). It also makes the "file type limitations" the unlimited hosts enforce make more sense; you can't allow someone to actually use the "unlimited" space with a 50GB backup file that only takes one or two inodes (folder and file).
    While the number of inodes has no real direct relation to the amount of space occupied, a Web host could set inode limits based upon the size of the hosting package though. Their system could alot X number of inodes per Y amount of allocated space for an individual hosting account.

    Regarding the post which you linked though, that wouldn't be entirely accurate saying "because that's how many inodes there are per GB on our filesystems". I'd tend to agree with you that they probably aren't setting a limit on a per account basis based upon the size of the account and have simply divided the maximum inodes for their filesystem by the disc space. Then again, they may be imposing hard limits per account by arriving at an inode/GB limit based upon the same equation. While not necessairly the most accurate way of calculating inode limits, they may be doing it.
    Last edited by GGWH-James; 04-11-2011 at 12:31 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amy-T View Post
    Last time I checked my site I was using 150,000 inodes and my site is huge. At that time i was using about 12 gb of space. I would imagine the inodes I am using now is about 300,000 or more. I forgot how to check though. I know my site is almost 30 gb now.
    For all the inodes you have, and the number you are using:

    Code:
    df -i

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by GGWH-James View Post
    While the number of inodes has no real direct relation to the amount of space occupied, a Web host could set inode limits based upon the size of the hosting package though. Their system could alot X number of inodes per Y amount of allocated space for an individual hosting account.

    Regarding the post which you linked though, that wouldn't be entirely accurate saying "because that's how many inodes there are per GB on our filesystems". I'd tend to agree with you that they probably aren't setting a limit on a per account basis based upon the size of the account and have simply divided the maximum inodes for their filesystem by the disc space. Then again, they may be imposing hard limits per account by arriving at an inode/GB limit based upon the same equation. While not necessairly the most accurate way of calculating inode limits, they may be doing it.
    I suspect that's what they are doing. In another post, which I can't find now, a host made a statement that in their experience, there was a statistical relationship between disk space and inodes. IIRC, he stated 1GB of disk used in an account typically used 100,000 inodes.

    There probably is an average statistically; if you took all the servers in the world and divided the inodes by disk space used, you would have an overall average. But the closer you get to a specific assessment, looking at two sites using Wordpress as I did, you don't find any meaningful relationship at all.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by fshagan View Post
    I suspect that's what they are doing. In another post, which I can't find now, a host made a statement that in their experience, there was a statistical relationship between disk space and inodes. IIRC, he stated 1GB of disk used in an account typically used 100,000 inodes.

    There probably is an average statistically; if you took all the servers in the world and divided the inodes by disk space used, you would have an overall average. But the closer you get to a specific assessment, looking at two sites using Wordpress as I did, you don't find any meaningful relationship at all.
    Sure, one could obtain a statistical average of inodes used per X amount of space if they had access to enough relevant data. However, in the end, imposing a restriction of X inodes per Y amount of space is an administrator imposed limit. While the filesystem does impose an inode limitation overall, it doesn't say that X amount of space (i.e. 1GB) can only be utilized by Y number of files/folders/inodes (i.e. 100,000) per se. With that said, shared servers should have inode limits in place as the filesystem does have an overall limitation and you cannot let a single account use all of them any more than any other resource on the server; it's up to the individual Web host how they decide to impose those restrictions though.
    Last edited by GGWH-James; 04-11-2011 at 12:59 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by fshagan View Post
    For all the inodes you have, and the number you are using:

    Code:
    df -i
    Thanks so my site is using 368347 inodes. Interesting and it is just about 30 gb.

    Any way this inode stuff is fascinating.

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