How many files can I have safely in a subdirectory?

z0diac web2009 at
Sun Aug 30 16:00:12 UTC 2009

Ok, I'm running a vBulletin forum (3.8.4) and found that all user attachments
go into 1 single directory for each user. For each attached file in the
forum, there's 2 files on disk (*.attach and *.thumb), for pictures that is.

One user already has over 100,000 attachements, thus, over 200,000 files in
his attach directory.

Someone recently told me to 'keep an eye on it' because certain setups can't
hold more than X number of files in a single directory. Yet someone else
said I could have over 1 trillion files in a single directory if the HDD was
large enough...

Here's my setup:

linux version: 2.6.18-92.1.10.el5
php: 5.1.6
mySQL: 5.0.45
File system: ext3

vB support has told me any limitation there might be, will not be the result
of vB, so now I'm looking at either Linux and the way it handles files, or
the ext3 file system.

Does anyone know if I can just keep going with putting files into one
directory? (there will be over 1million probably by year's end. Hopefully
not more than 5 million ever).

And, will having so many files in a single directory cause any performance
problems? (ie: slowdowns)

My only option is to hire a coder to somehow have it split the 1M+ files
into several subdirs, say 50,000 per subdir. But even though it's messy, if
it really doesn't make a difference in the end whether they're in 50
subdirs, or just 1 dir, then I won't bother (and can sigh a breath of

Thanks in advance!!
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