What Is The File Usage Limit In cPanel?

By default, all shared hosting accounts have a file usage limit, this is also sometimes known as the inode limit. We place file limits at 600.000 files (other account give 75.000 - 250.000) on shared accounts to keep our systems up and running optimally. Hosting a large number of files on a shared web server can cause issues for the server's file system and also adversely affect the performance of the backup system when it comes to both backing up and restoring data.

The file count includes all files, and folders on your webspace. You can view your current file usage as well as the limit that is set on your account by logging into cPanel and looking under the "Statistics" heading down the side of the page, as shown in the following image.

When you exceed the maximum file limit you have 7 days to bring your usage back down to within the limits set. During these 7 days your account will continue to function as normal.

If you haven't brought your file usage back to within the limits after 7 days then a hard limit will automatically be imposed and you will no longer be able to write any data to the disk so you will be unable to upload any new files or folders to your webspace. It will also mean you will no longer be able to receive any emails sent to you.

To resolve the issue you will need to either reduce the file usage on the hosting account, or move to a plan with no file usage limits imposed such as a VPS or a Dedicated Server.

If you have already gone over the file usage limit and would like some tips on how to reduce the file usage limit on your hosting account.

How To Reduce Your File Usage Count

1. Log into cPanel and click on the "Disk Usage" icon.

cPanel Disk Usage

2. You will then be presented with an overview of the disk usage of each directory under your webspace. Unfortunately the data only shows us the disk usage in MB / GB and not the file usage count of each directory, but we can usually use this data to get a good idea of what's causing a high file usage count.

In the example below, we can see that the two main directories with a high disk usage value are the public_html and mail directories, so we can safely assume that there are a lot of files in each of these directories.

Disk Usage

3. In our experience, the mail directory is much more likely to contain a large number of files (each email stored on the server is 1 file) than the public_html directory so we would recommend examining the file usage of your email accounts. To do this go back to the cPanel home page and click on the "Email Disk Usage" icon. If you have a large number of mail accounts then this page may take a while to load so please be patient.

Email Disk Usage

4. Once the page has loaded, you will be able to see an overview of how many emails (files) are stored in each of your mailboxes. In the example below you can see that the "Trash" folder of the default email account contains a huge number of emails, all of which are counting towards the total file count of the account. If you find a mailbox with a large number of mails that can be deleted, click on the "Manage" link to the right of the mailbox and you can then choose to either delete all emails in the mailbox, only emails older than 1 year or a custom query.

cPanel Email Disk Usage

If you have a number of mailboxes, please ensure you go through each mailbox and check the file usage on each of them. You can view all of your different email accounts by using the drop down menu near the top of the "Email Disk Usage" page as shown in the image above.

Top Tip: We find that the most common cause of high file counts is the default mail account. By default the default mail account will receive cron job notification emails and clients tend to forget about this mailbox and just leave it to fill up, so emptying the default mailbox is usually the easiest way to dramatically reduce the file count. You can empty it either by using the method shown above, or by using the cPanel file manager to delete the /mail/cur and /mail/new directories.

If you find that even after deleting unwanted emails you are still over the file count limit, your email accounts may be better suited to our dedicated Hosted Exchange email paltform as this is designed purely for email usage and is better able to handle large amounts of emails.

5. If you find that you don't actually have a lot of emails stored on the server then your high file usage count is likely coming from your public_html directory, in which case you need to go back to the "Disk Usage" page in cPanel and navigate through the directories until you find one with a high file count.

As soon as you have reduced your file count to a level under the limit set on your account, your account will go back to functioning as normal.