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Have You Every Wondered What the Big Deal is about File Sizes of Pictures?

Many or most websites that allow people to post images have file size limitations in place. For example, Virily has a file size limit of 8 MB. This is actually extremely generous. So what is the big deal?

The issue is with server space. Servers aren’t a great deal different than your home computer. They have a maximum amount of data that they will hold. Long before that maximum is reached, the computer or server will also usually slow down, too, because the computer needs to take longer to find any given data.

That is where the file size of pictures has a huge impact. The text of a typical post usually takes up less than 20 kb of space. A picture that is used in that post often takes up 10 to 1000 times more space, or even more. This means that the more pictures are stored on the server and the larger those pictures are in file size, the faster that the server gets filled up. 

Websites like Virily often try to counter this by increasing the server space, but this is an expensive proposition. A point can be quickly reached when the site is losing far more money than it is making. No business can keep operating for long when that happens.

Some websites use software that automatically reduces the file size of images, but this is only effective up to a certain degree. Even with such software in place, the pictures still take up much more space than the text or ‘meat’ of a post. 

Thankfully, there are ways that the contributors can help to keep from filling up space on the servers too fast. Many people don’t know how, and that is okay because it isn’t that difficult to learn. Quite a few people also don’t want to be bothered and won’t even make the effort to spend an extra 2-3 minutes to reduce the file size of the images. This is sad because this is one of the leading reasons that writing and blogging sites fail and it is usually the people who refused to take that small, additional time that complains the most when the site shuts down.

In no way am I saying that Virily is in imminent danger of shutting down. I can’t say that since I don’t know what server constraints the site has. However, we all have the ability to help make sure that it doesn’t happen.

Personally, it is rare for me to post any image that I don’t first cut down in file size. It is virtually impossible for anyone to tell that I’ve done this, either. It takes very little time and I do it with almost every image I use. 

I’d be happy to share what I do with images if any of the readers would be interested and would like to learn this simple technique. It is simple and a person doesn’t need to be an expert computer user to do it. It does use software, but the software is free. 

  • Would you be interested in learning how to cut the file size of images quickly and easily?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I don’t have the extra 2 minutes to spare
    • I frankly don’t care if a site has issues with space

What do you think?

20 points
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Written by Rex Trulove

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21 Comments

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  1. If I use the machine learning structure to do the pattern matching, i can reduce the file seek time. The reality for Virily isn’t performance. My gut, and my experience says quite honestly that there are 200 pictures submitted per day. If they are around 3 meg average size, that is 600 meg per day or 4.2 gig per week.

    Cost to Virily – roughly 28 cents net new each week
    .
    Increment of 14 dollars per month
    Virily is 3 years old, net cost right now is probably between 80-100 bucks a month just for storage.

    • At one time, Internet sites could absorb that without difficulty, but the changes to advertising revenue streams makes that progressively harder. I imagine that some have simply invested in blade servers, but that is expensive and still doesn’t really solve the problem, it merely delays it.

        • I would say that it is exceptionally probable. Considering the location of Virily, I can’t see any other way they could do it, realistically. Having their own servers would be great if they needed to be able to operate apart from the Internet, but the company has no such need. Also, I seriously doubt that they had the initial funding outlay to warrant owning onsite servers.

          It would be undoubtedly cheaper to use the cloud, but that also means that Internet health is that much more important. That is something that they don’t have a great deal of control over.

          • I would argue that a website requires a good internet connection regardless.

            Netflix started out on Amazon because the cost of their own network connection to their own data center was literally going to be more than a million dollars a month.

            Cloud computing allows for an abstraction of the internet. You have multiple points of failure, not one.

          • But the other side of that when designing systems is having multiple points, that support the concept you are delivering, that are available, reduces the stress on the system overall.

            Multiple points of failure.
            Multiple points to fail before Failure.

  2. I always reduce the size of my images. I try to make certain that the long side is at least 1000 pixels and the short side is at least 750 pixels. This gives me a file size of 200k to 600k, depending on how much editing I did. Panoramas I reduce to the short side being 750 pixels which generally gives a file size around 1mb.

    I use ACDSee to reduce the size – even if I used another app to edit – because it makes it very easy to do.

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