Reducing storage size of Blackboard courses

Blog Post created by smachaje on Jun 20, 2019

What is the largest course you have seen on your system? - please let us now in the comments!


weight lossStorage always grows, but here are just a few reasons for instructors and administrators to manage it:

  1. Smaller course copies, exports/imports, backup recoveries are quicker and more reliable
  2. Video delivered through media servers takes less bandwidth and has more features such as captioning, streaming, viewer collaboration.  Students typically use less cellular data when streaming
  3. Old files with inaccurate information do not surface in newer versions of courses through unintended consequences
  4. Performance of Blackboard web servers is improved


Much has already been communicated about storage, this is a summary of new and existing resources.


Instructors play an important role in keeping storage manageable in Blackboard courses.  Periodically instructors can review old or unlinked files in their own courses.  Here is how old and unused files can be removed:



Course sizes can be reduced by focus on these areas:


1. Video assignments:

Blackboard servers are "web servers" not "media servers" (Back to School webinar).  If possible, video content should be deployed to media servers and services such as Panopto, Kaltura, YouTube, etc.


Blackboard support recommendation is to deploy only small files to Blackboard courses, less than 50MB.



A common practice is to request that students submit video assignments through Blackboard in assignment attachments.  This can quickly add up.  Each student submits a 100MB mp4 video, that's 30 x 100MB, which makes about 3GB.  If more than one assignment is provided or videos are larger, the course becomes very large, very quickly.  Instead, services like Panopto allow for  an assignment link, which collects video content and gives faculty more functionality to comment on the video and process it.


Administrators can locate courses with large student video assignments by looking for courses with a large set of protected files. 



To find protected files navigate to the Admin Tools, go to System Reporting -> Disk Usage.




Sample report, which identifies courses with large assignment submissions, most often video content.  The image below had the course name and id fields removed for privacy.




2. Course copy problems:

Course copies can sometimes generate nested folders or carry over files, which are no longer needed in the course.  Typically instructors are the appropriate authorities on deciding if a file can be removed from course storage.  It is possible to identify, which files are no longer linked or used in the course, but there may be exceptions why instructors keep files in the content system.


A related bug: #49579 (Nested Imported Content Folder Occurs when GUI copying from SIS created course into existing SIS courses) Issue Description: When performing a GUI based copy from an SIS created Course shell into an existing SIS created Course shell, a nested ImportedContent folder condition occurs.

This video can help instructors review their courses and remove files, which are no longer needed.


Administrators can locate courses with large set of files, that could indicate the course copy problem. 




A sample report identifying large courses due to files uploaded by the instructor:



To reduce the course storage size of Course Files, instructors can remove files no longer needed or move their video content to a media service.


3. Additional resources

Recorded Sessions of Previously Held Webinars about Storage



Blackboard blog about storage in the Learn system: