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How long should one keep images of old articles?

I am working on a news site that has millions of articles and every single one has a featured image. Because of that, the site size is becoming too big(+20GB of images).

I noticed that some news sites remove images after a few months (not 100% sure, but I think NYTimes.com removes old images after ~3 months)

I understand that in a perfect world we ought keep all images forever. The truth is, after a few months no one reads old news articles any way, so why keep old images?

EDIT: We are going to moving the site to a could server with SSD and that storage is not cheap. I am sure there will be some fine tuning what images to keep for ever and what to remove after a period of time. I know that some big news sites remove some images after a set period of time. I am looking for that set period of time.

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  • When do you retire your articles?
    – Mervin
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:32
  • What do you mean when? The articles will be live for as long as the site exist.
    – Radi
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:34
  • I mean when do the articles disappear from search?
    – Mervin
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:35
  • Never. All articles will are searchable. Where are you going with this?
    – Radi
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:39
  • Hard drives are cheap. Regardless, from a UX perspective, you'd keep the relevant content as long as you can.
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:46

1 Answer 1

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20GB of images is not that big of a deal and like @DA01 states in the comments, hard drives are cheap. I just did a quick search and you can buy 2TB hard drives for under $100. That means cost should not be a factor.

The real question is: What does it benefit a user for you to keep the images vs retiring them after a certain time period? That is a really tough question to answer with any sort of certainty.

I would say that ultimately, it would depend on your audience and how articles are presented on your site. If your site doesn't have very much in terms of visual aids, keeping the images might do wonders for keeping a user's interest. Retiring the images means the user would be presented with no visual aids, simply text, and that might overwhelm the user causing them to bounce, or leave your site.


@DirkvB brings up a good point:

On top of that; what if the article is ABOUT the images. in that case, removing the image renders the article useless. Examples: articles about latest celebrity snapshots, new photos of a crashed airplane, missing/wanted persons, something art related, etc.

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  • On top of that; what if the article is ABOUT the images. in that case, removing the image renders the article useless. Examples: articles about latest celebrity snapshots, new photos of a crashed airplane, missing/wanted persons, something art related, etc.
    – Dirk v B
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 22:03
  • @DirkvB - Very true. Good point! Updated answer to include. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 22:12
  • I am looking into moving the site to a cloud server with SSD and that is not cheap.
    – Radi
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 14:50
  • @Radi - Ok, so you want to spend ~$100 to ~$300 per month to host your site? Is your site that popular that it generates enough income to warrant paying that? Let's say it does, you can still store your images somewhere else. Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 15:05
  • @CodeMaverick I did not ask if economically it is a good idea. I asked for a time period after which it is not going to be a big deal from a UX stand point to not display images. Why is everybody trying to explain how to not use SSD and to store my images on a CND? I already know all that, thank you.
    – Radi
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 15:13

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