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A question I get asked all the time is “how do I free up more space on my server”.

This is a common question, because, like a hard drive on your computer, it does eventually get filled up. Unless it is managed.

There are a several possible reasons why your server space is running out of space and they could be:

  1. Emails that are still being stored on your server.
  2. Backup files of your website
  3. Plugins and theme files that you may have installed but are not using.
  4. Natural growth of website.

I’ll explain each of those:

Emails that are still being stored on your server.

Usually the issue is the your older emails are still sitting on the server and these can take up most of the space. This is because the email accounts are setup as IMAP on a computer or mobile device and so the emails are stored on the server for later retrieval, unlike POP accounts that simply remove the email from the server when the email is sent to the computer or device.

Backup files of your website.

Sometimes your developer will setup backups of your website to run on a schedule, so that you do not have to think about doing it. It just runs automatically. In most cases the settings of the schedule will tell the application to remove older backups, or store a limited number, such as 3, and when it reaches the 3rd one and runs a 4th backup, the oldest is removed and replaced. Sometimes, this is not setup properly, so the schedule just runs and runs and eventually the backups will fill up the disk space and will eventually run out of space. This issue also occurs, when the email server is filled up and the backup process cannot run a full cycle, so spits out an error and your might recieve an email telling you there is a problem.

Plugins and theme files that you may have installed but are not using.

It is not uncommon for a website owner to add other plugins or themes into their website and forget to remove them after trying them out. It is best practice to remove the plugins or themes that are not being used, so that space can be claimed on the server.

The steps to free up space on your server.

First, lets identify what components of your server are using the most space.

  1. Goto your cPanel – Type in your website address into your browser and add /cpanel at the end. eg www.yourwebsite.com/cpanel
  2. Click on the Disk Space Usage icon under the Files section.
    disk space usage
  3. Once in the Disk Space Usage page, you will see something like the following example.
    disk space usage screen

From the example image above, you can see that the mail/ component is taking up most of the space – 730.52mb with a total disk space usage of 998.05 mb out of 1000 mb (1 Gb). Which means that the mail server is where you need to go and remove the older files to claim back 730 mb of space.

Ok, so now that we have identified the component that is taking up the space, you we will need to take some action.

1. Emails that are still being stored on your server.

Ok, so from the above example, we need to remove some older emails from our server. To do that, follow these instructions:

  1. Open a new tab on your browser and type in your website address again, this time add /webmail to the end. eg. www.yourwebsite.com/webmail
  2. Sign in using your email account and password
  3. Click on the Squirrel Mail application on the right hand side of the other email clients.
  4. You will see an inbox of your emails.
  5. Goto the very end of the emails, by clicking on the numbers on the bottom.
  6. Click on the Select All checkbox
  7. Once all the emails have been selected, click on Delete at the top.
  8. You may wish to keep some emails, like the very latest, just in case you need a copy, or if you have them stored somewhere else, like on Outlook or Gmail, you can just delete them.

If you find that the public_html/ component has the highest usage, that means, you need to focus on the website itself. Look for backups that are taking up the space, download them to your computer and delete them from the server and/or plugin / themes not being used, simply remove them. If they are not the cause and your website is naturally growing with content, then you may need to look at increasing your server space, by contacting the hosting provider directly.

2. Backup files of your website.

Ok, so you may need to clean out some older backup files.

To do this you need to:

Please note: the following instructions assume that you have Backup Buddy installed. Please look at the instructions for finding another plugins file structure in that plugins instructions. Google is your friend. Also This is only if you are running a WordPress website, and does not include other types of websites.

  1. Goto the home page of cPanel and click on File Manager icon under the Files section. On the pop up window, just click on the Go button. – this will open a new tab on your browser.
  2. On the new window, you will see a list of files and folders.
  3. Double click on the wp-content folder.
  4. Double click on the uploads folder.
  5. Double click on the backupbuddy-backups folder
  6. Click on the oldest files in the list and click Delete (X) in the top menu area.

3. Plugins and theme files that you may have installed but are not using.

Ok, so, you have had a look at your backups and they are fine, but something else might be taking up space, so look at your plugins and theme files to see if you can remove some to claim some space.

Remove old Plugins:

  1. Open your website dashboard – www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin and log in.
  2. Goto Plugins -> Installed Plugins
  3. Check down the list and see if there are some plugins that are deactivated and click on the checkbox next to them and click on Bulk Actions dropdown and select Delete. On the next page will be a confirmation and click on remove plugins button that appears.

Remove unused Themes:

  1. Goto Appearance -> Themes.
  2. Click on a theme not being used and click on Delete to remove the theme. – Be careful that you do not delete a parent theme for your website. If you are using Genesis, you will see a theme, called Genesis that is not being used, do not delete that theme or your website will not work properly. If you are not sure, contact your developer.

4. Natural growth of website.

It could be possible that your website is growing and simply cannot operate on the smaller disk space. So the option to upgrade your current hosting account disk space is a must do action. To do this simply contact your developer or web hosting provider and ask to be be upgraded.

So that is about it. Naturally, if you are having any issues or questions, it is best to contact your developer or hosting service for any advice.

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