WordPress – some lessons learned from a full media library

A lot of pleasure with WordPress for two and a half years – now I am blocked

When retiring, I set up my WordPress site with the “dusk to dawn” theme, wrote more than 100 blogs and uploaded many, many photos to my media library. About a month ago, I receive the howdy-message that I have reached the free limit of 3GB. I can no longer upload photos. Well, I have to admit, I have blogged a lot, I have never looked at the size of my photos – and I knew, now I have to start thinking about all that first.


Why have I hit a limit in WordPress in the first place, though all my blogs sit on a private server?

All my petrapeters.ch blogs sit on a private server and not in the Wordpress “cloud”. So, why have I hit a WordPress storage limit in the first place? As I understand eventually, the media library is in the WordPress cloud and not on the local server. I do not understand why, but I can also not figure out, whether it would be possible to change this. Okay, I accept the fact that my media library has to fit into the storage space provided by WordPress. Freely available are 3GB – more space is available at a price.

My conclusion: Plan for the premium upgrade, but try to understand more before doing so.


Can I resize my photos in the media library – after the fact?

I look at the size of my photos and understand that they are 4-5MB large. Well, I know I should have thought about this before.

So I start to tidy up my media library. I delete all unused photos – a very handy feature in WordPress. The howdy message becomes less frightening: I am at some 97% of my maximum storage (and no longer 99%). Next I start to downsize the used photos by editing them in the WordPress media library. After some time, the howdy message becomes frightening again: I am at 101% now. Why? I have downsized so many photos and as a result I use more space? Yes, WordPress has ADDED the smaller photos TO the existing ones. My wish to WordPress: What about adding a feature that allows to resize photos after having uploaded them AND delete the larger versions at the same time?

My conclusion: Resizing the photos can only be done BEFORE uploading them to the media library. Oh dear.


What image editing software is recommended to resize the photos before uploading them?

For image optimization, this WordPress support blog recommends various image editing software programs, on top of the list being Irfanview. I find it straightforward to use. I will set up a shadow media library in my picture folders for my downsized photos. The blog also tells me that smaller photos will make my page load faster, when people look at it.

In addition I learn that JPEG is the recommended format for photos, PNG for details such as text (e.g. maps)  and GIF for line art such as logos.

My conclusion: Resize photos using Irfanview, keep a shadow media library and upload photos to WordPress after resizing.


What number of pixels and what file size are optimal for my photos, before uploading them to WordPress? 

File size: An entry in the wordpress codex teaches me: “Typically, large high quality images should be kept between 100K and 60K.” Oh, sorry, 4-5 KB might have been a bit much. I resize some photos to about 100K and find them slightly less brilliant, but I will have to live with that knowing that loading will be much faster instead.

Number of pixels: The handle I am using to resize the photos is the number of pixels. What number is optimal? The wordpress codex article indicates that for each WordPress theme there is an optimal number of pixels. What is the optimal number for “my” theme which is “dusk to dawn”? I am confused by various recommendations in the internet, and ask the happiness engineer. He writes to me: “Suggested header images are 870px x 220px. The content of the page (left sidebar plus articles) is 870px wide. The left sidebar is 282 px wide. The right article area is 588px wide. And actual content of posts are 472px wide without padding.” Okay – 472px.

My conclusion: Resize photos to 472px wide which will resize them to some 60K to 100K.


Now buy the premium upgrade and start over again

Now I buy the premium upgrade. I discover that premium includes having a private domain (which I have paid for so far anyway), and I can have a discount right now. For all the pleasure I have had with WordPress, I am happy to contribute the premium price.

Immediately I can upload photos again. But from now on I restrict them to 472px wide and upload them only after having resized them. I also start to resize some of the photos in older blogs – but this is quite cumbersome and will take time.


May I restate my wishes – why does WordPress not allow to resize photos in THEIR media library and – at the same time – ONLY keep the small versions of the photos deleting all other versions? And why does the media library HAVE TO BE in the WordPress cloud – why cannot it not be moved to the local server that also keeps the blogs.

2 thoughts on “WordPress – some lessons learned from a full media library

  1. Paul D. Reigrotzki says:

    Liebe Petra

    Eine kleine Anmerkung: Ich bin eigentlich eher dafür, dass alles, was ein Dokument ausmacht (also auch die Bilder) in die Cloud hoch geladen werden. Oft ist ein privater Server nicht in der gleichen Weise “hochverfügbar” wie ein professioneller Cloud-Server. Und dann ist es einfach “saublöd”, wenn dem Besucher ein Teil des Dokumentes angezeigt wird, und ein anderer nicht (weil der Privatserver aus unterschiedlichsten Gründen gerade nicht verfügbar ist).

    Es kommt ja nicht von ungefähr, dass nur sehr wenige Leute einen eigenen Mail-Server betreiben: It’s the availabillity, stupid!

    Herzliche Grüsse Dein Paul

    • peterspetra says:

      Lieber Paul, da habe ich mich wohl nicht klar ausgedrückt: Die Fotos sind nach wie vor in der Cloud, zusammen mit den Blogs. Die “lokale Media Library” ist ein zusätzlicher Arbeitsfolder, den ich furs Resizen der Fotos angelegt habe. Ich bin mit Dir einverstanden Paul, die Fotos, die im Blog publiziert sind, müssen auch in der Cloud, zusammen mit den Blogs. Danke für den Hinweis. Petra

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