8 Proven Practices to Optimize Course Storage in an LMS

Optimizing the storage of your learning management system (LMS) is crucial. As the central repository for all essential learner data and educational resources, inadequate storage capacity can lead to slow loading times, hinder administrative tasks, and ultimately, diminish your return on investment (ROI) by increasing hosting costs.

This article outlines eight effective practices that can be implemented to optimize LMS storage, thereby enhancing the overall user experience for both administrators and learners while ensuring cost efficiency.

Reaching Storage Limits

Reaching or even exceeding storage limits is a very common occurrence. Based on direct industry experience, around four out of 10 LMS clients face this issue regularly.

Typically, clients realize they're running out of storage by asking their Account Manager or after receiving a notification from them. In other cases, such as when using Open LMS EDU, clients also have access to a dashboard displaying this information. Regardless of the method, it requires an ongoing effort to proactively consult this information.

Storage capacity is determined by the hosting infrastructure and the contractual agreement with your LMS provider. For example, Open LMS offers 100 GB for every 500 users and has a standard pricing for any additional 100 GB. However, thanks to hosting with Amazon Web Services (AWS), its potential storage capacity is technically unlimited.

This means that even if you are allocated a specific amount of storage for resource control purposes, with Open LMS, it’s possible to exceed your assigned storage capacity without risking data loss or experiencing slowdowns. This grace period allows you to manage your storage by cleaning up unnecessary files or upgrading your plan for more space.

What Are the Impacts of Improper Storage Management?

Regular maintenance of your course storage helps prevent issues with:

  • Administration: Accumulating a large amount of information without regular maintenance makes it more difficult to manage courses, content, and activities, as admins have more elements to keep track of and navigate through.
  • Performance: System performance can slow down as stored data nears storage limits if the infrastructure isn't sufficient or if your provider implements some type of penalization. This can lead to increased wait times for tasks like accessing courses, generating reports, and uploading new content.
  • Backups and Updates: As the size of the site grows, backups and updates (or maintenance packs) require more time to complete. This is because they must accommodate the increasing number of elements within the platform.

Moreover, it’s important to remember that data is normally stored in two main groups:

  • Database: This includes all text records generated on the platform, such as user information, grades, logs, and completion data. It often occupies less space.
  • File System: This encompasses objects such as PDFs, slides, spreadsheets, images, and videos. It typically occupies more space.

Both are interconnected, as objects are encrypted and linked to records in the database. This means you can't simply extract a file from the system and open it: You need the corresponding information from the database to decrypt it. Thus, when thinking about proper storage management, you should treat both data groups as a unified system.

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8 Storage Management Practices to Optimize Your Courses

Effective storage management practices ensure optimal LMS performance and prevent storage limitations. Here are eight key practices to implement:

1) Establish Internal Policies

Clear internal policies promote consistent storage practices across all users. These policies should address:

  • Management: Determine maximum file sizes or types of content that users can upload based on their role.
  • Retention: Set guidelines for how long information should be retained on the platform. Logs are generated with every user action, and when multiplied by thousands, can grow exponentially.
  • Backups: Decide how often backups will be performed, how many copies will be stored, and whether backup information needs to be readily available or can be moved to a private server.

2) Implement Archiving Practices

Archiving practices are a practical way to enhance organization within your storage. This involves moving content and courses that are no longer in use to a specific location. The simplest way to create an archive is to establish a hidden course category named "Archive" in your LMS. Then, you can move unused courses into that category.

However, keep in mind that this will still contribute to your storage usage, so it’s primarily an administrative enhancement.

3) Free Up Space With Quick Cleaning Tasks

You can remove inactive users either manually or by using a bulk user action feature in your LMS. Yet, it's crucial to ensure that you always have a backup of your courses containing user data before deleting these users from the site, as once deleted, there's no way to recover them. For existing Open LMS users, we recommend clearing your logs at least once every 365 days.

Additionally, we suggest eliminating courses that are no longer in use. This can be done either by manually deleting them or by deleting an entire category, such as one associated with an old academic term. A storage dashboard, similar to the one found in Open LMS EDU, can be very helpful. This feature provides a breakdown of all item categories and their storage usage, allowing you to easily identify categories that require prompt cleanup.

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4) Avoid Production Site Clones

At times, resolving a technical issue might necessitate cloning the production site into a test environment (sandbox). However, if not absolutely needed, it's advisable to avoid this practice, as it can consume a considerable amount of storage.

If you require information restoration, it's preferable to rely on automatic backups. For example, the Conduit plugin in Open LMS allows you to automatically back up courses upon deletion. These backups are stored indefinitely, unless an administrator deletes them.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CONDUIT | ‘How Conduit, an Open LMS-Exclusive Automation Plugin, Saves You Time

5) Compress Images and Stream Videos

Images and videos typically consume the most storage space. When dealing with images, it's advisable to compress them before uploading them to the server. You might be surprised at how much an image can be compressed without sacrificing its quality, especially if the image doesn't require detailed examination.

For videos, consider streaming them from platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo to save storage usage. Simply upload the content to these platforms and obtain a share link or an embed code, which you can then incorporate into the lesson.

It's important to note that heavy images and videos can also impact the user experience, particularly for learners with limited internet access who may encounter difficulties loading the courses.

If you have an image, document, or any type of file that will be used in multiple instances, you can upload it once and then use its link for reuse instead of uploading it multiple times.

7) Reduce Learner Storage Consumption

Set upload size limits for learners and reduce requests for photos. While photos may be useful for assignments as evidence, modern smartphones default to taking high-resolution photos. As a result, even a simple photo of a notebook page can end up occupying a significant amount of storage space.

8) Aim to Keep Only One Backup

Automatic backup features enable you to select the number of backups you want to retain. We recommend keeping just one up-to-date backup by configuring the backup tool to overwrite the existing one. This simplifies management and reduces storage needs, but consider enabling versioning within the backup tool if you need to revert to a previous state.

Maintenance Makes the eLearning Magic Last

By implementing these eight storage management practices, you can significantly optimize your LMS storage and ensure a smooth learning experience for all users. This will not only free up valuable space but also enhance administrative efficiency, improve LMS performance, and ultimately reduce costs. Remember, a well-maintained LMS with optimized storage is key to maximizing the effectiveness of your learning programs.

Interested in effortlessly managing your course storage? Look no further than Open LMS! Contact us or request a demo to see how our features can streamline management and enhance your eLearning outcomes.
Suzie Chan
About the author

Suzie Chan

Adoption & Education Specialist, Open LMS

Suzie Chan is the APAC Adoption & Education Specialist at Open LMS. As a former client, Suzie has an intimate understanding of the needs and requirements of Open LMS clients. She’s passionate about empowering others, driving positive change in the ever-evolving landscape of education and technology. Prior to entering the education space, Suzie spent 15 successful years delivering conferences and events before igniting a passion for education while teaching a Diploma in Event Management at Holmesglen Institute. Her dedication to education and professional development is evident in her numerous credentials: a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Media Studies and Marketing, a Diploma of Business Administration, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and a Certificate III in Meetings & Events.

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