Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Forum Moderators: ergophobe

Message Too Old, No Replies

Is it not a good idea to store all user profile images in one folder?

11:07 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

5+ Year Member

joined:Sept 22, 2009
posts: 69
votes: 0


In a social networking site where each user has a profile image, is it not a good idea to store all the thousands of profile images in the same folder on your server?

What are the pros and cons?

If the answer is no, then what is a better method?

11:09 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:July 1, 2002
votes: 0

It's not a good idea to store a lot of files of any kind in the same directory.

Most file systems use a list as the main internal structure. So the more files you have in a directory, the more resources it takes to match a file name to an inode.

Instead, use a nested directory structure.
11:19 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

5+ Year Member

joined:Sept 22, 2009
votes: 0

bcc1234, thanks for your reply.

In the case of profile images on a social networking site, how would you recommend organizing the profile pics and why?
12:06 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

Moderator This Forum

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 25, 2002
votes: 225

If you had all your files using randomaly generated names, allowing a-z0-9, you could just drop them into a directory structure based on the first two characters of the filename like so


And so on. that would give you 1296 directories, with files evenly spread throughout. So with 1,296,000 users, you would only have 1000 files per directory.

There's an interesting read on the web about how Flickr scales to serve billions of images up. Balanced clusters for MySQL servers that hold user information and paths to the actual images which are served up of file servers and which can be addressed directly with the right URL.


It's from 2007, but it's an interesting read if you think you'll scale to 40 million users and 2 billion images :-)