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Where Does WordPress Store Images on Your Site?

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WordPress Store Images

WordPress, one of the more popular open-source cms (content management systems), can help you store and sort images on your website. Images play a vital role on most websites. They provide a visual aid for your writing, entertain readers, and even affect search engine rankings. Thus, understanding how they can be optimized will help you immensely. So, how exactly does WordPress store images on your websites? Well, we will talk about that below, along with different ways that you can organize your images more efficiently using various plugins also provided by WordPress.

Where does WordPress store images on website?

Once uploaded, the images can be accessed through the WordPress media library, where you can manipulate, edit, or delete them. However, that isn’t where they are stored. All media uploads are saved in your wp-content/uploads folder. By default, all uploads (and their associated image sizes, if applicable) are saved in subfolders depending on the year and month they were uploaded. You can also view these files using the file manager app under your hosting account control panel or by connecting to your WordPress hosting account using an FTP client. You can also automatically generate multiple copies of each uploaded image in different sizes (the thumbnail, medium, and large), along with additional sizes generated by the plugins used on your server.  

How does WordPress display information about these files inside the media library?

A reference to the media file is also saved in your database in the {PREFIX}_posts table. If you run a search for all of those where ‘post_type’ is ‘attachment,’ you can see all of the posts that your Word Press system has recorded. The associated post meta can be found in the {PREFIX}_postmeta table. This helps WordPress organize your files into categories and save any related attachment metadata. Suppose later a file is deleted from the server using FTP. In that case, the images will be displayed as ‘broken’ as If a reference is in the _posts table, it will appear in the media library, regardless of whether or not the called file exists, and since it doesn’t, it cannot be displayed. Likewise, if the file is on the server but not recorded in the database, it will not appear in the library despite its existence.

Change the way WordPress stores your media uploads

While WordPress doesn’t allow you to change the upload location from the admin area by default, you can disable the ‘organize by month and year based option’ by visiting the media page in the settings option. From there, you can also adjust the size of your image uploads by tampering with their maximum dimensions and pixels. If you still want more freedom as to where you can save your uploads, you can consider adding a code snippet, although you might want to take a backup of your website first.

Optimizing your content 

While Images are highly engaging and make your content more interesting for users, they also take much more time to load than just plain text as they comprise more data. Due to this, having more than one large image on your page could cause performance issues by making your website slower, which will affect the user experience. Several tools can help optimize your uploads more efficiently by compressing your images before they are uploaded. You can use a few steps mentioned below to utilize such tools.

  • Before you upload – Use an image editor like Photoshop (Mac/PC) or Preview (Mac) to resize and compress your image. You want all images under less than 1MB in size. And, you should always change an image with a resulting dpi of 300 to 72, as browsers generally display 72dpi.
  • You can upload an image to the Media Library, then use the Edit feature to change the aspect ratio or resize the image height/width. It has a crop tool as well. But, you won’t be able to change the dpi of the image. 
  • Use an image compression plugin like https://imagify.com Image Optimization and Compression Plugins for WordPress and API by ShortPixelSmush available through WPMU DEV – Your WordPress Toolkit.
  • The plugins, as mentioned above, have settings to both resize and compress the image uploaded to the media library at the same time. The plugins are all freemium – so be wary that there may be a cost to you to get the best compression ratios. For example, some compress to a certain extent, but you don’t get the best quality without the paid version.
  • They can also run through your media library and fix all images uploaded prior to their installation if needed. And, they have controls in the media library Meta panel for each image to compress and resize individually, if necessary. 
  • You can further boost the performance of your website by using a CDN (content delivery network). This allows you to load images from a global network of servers instead of your hosting server.
  • We recommend using Bunny.net, the best CDN service on the market. It is super easy and comes with its own WordPress plugins for quicker setup.

Summary

In this blog, we focused on a few aspects that are part of every media file in your library.

We answered where media files are stored on your server and discussed how WordPress stores the relevant data about those files inside your database. We also covered a few other similar topics related to media files that can prove insightful to a wide range of WordPress users, like figuring out how to change the location where new media is saved and learning to optimize content in a better way, so the performance of the site isn’t leveraged against how fancy it looks.

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