How Sitecore media cache Works?

Sitecore stores all media cache to file system, unlike all other caches, stored in RAM. Media items are stored in database, so media cache is required to reduce database calls and serve media files faster to end-user. Let's understand Sitecore media cache mechanism.

How Media Cache Created?

- When we upload a new media file to Sitecore, its media cache is created in Website\App_Data\MediaCache\<sitename>\<Hashcode of MediaId> folder. Sitecore assigns unique MediaId to each media item, which gets changed on each modification of media item.

- For each media item, Sitecore creates an INI file with name of MediaId in the respective folder, which stores different attributes of the media file inside it.

See below image as a reference:

In above case, this media's MediaId is "8c683332453741038b8876bf5915d188", so the ini file (8c683332453741038b8876bf5915d188.ini) is generated with name of MediaId. On right side, all information is stored in same file. dataFile shows physical media file name 7b4a5e3934914d57a390bedcab67380c.jpg.

Different attributes in INI file:
Attribute Description
Key height, width, thumbnail, background color, etc. image parameters passed by query string. You can get better idea by reading my earlier Blog Post on Sitecore Image Control Parameters
extension Extension of  media file.
headers Content Type, etc.
datafile Physical file name stored as media cache in same folder.

How Media Cache Deleted?

Sitecore provides a cleanup agent to clear older media files, which clears media files every specified interval of time. By default it clears all media cache files created 90 days ago. See below settings in web.config:
     <agent type="Sitecore.Tasks.CleanupAgent" method="Run" interval="06:00:00">
        <!-- Specifies files to be cleaned up.
             If rolling="true", [minCount] and [maxCount] will be ignored.
             [minAge] and [maxAge] must be specified as [days.]hh:mm:ss. The default value
             of [minAge] is 30 minutes.
             [strategy]: number of files within hour, day, week, month, year
             [recursive=true|false]: descend folders?
        <files hint="raw:AddCommand">
          <remove folder="/App_Data/MediaCache" pattern="*.*" maxAge="90.00:00:00" recursive="true" />

Media Cache Hidden Secrets

  • If a user has requested a media file with different querystring parameters, then Sitecore creates different media files runtime and stores all those files in same folder where original media file is stored. Also, all these combinations are stored in the same INI file itself.

    You can try accessing your media image with different parameters like below and check media cache:
  • When a media item is updated, Sitecore creates a new media cache with new INI file and a new media file even though the media file(blob) remains same or item already has same media cache. So, there will be duplicate media cache but Sitecore will refer to latest file only.
  • As we know Sitecore creates media cache in folder with name of Context Site. So, if one media file is accessed by two different Sites (SiteContext), then media cache will be generated for both sites, means in both sites' folders. For example, When media item is accessed by Content Editor, cache will be created for Shell site and when accessed by Website, then it will be created for Website.

How to read/create media cache programatically?

Yes, it's possible to create or read media cache by Sitecore API:
    // Read Media Cache

    MediaRequest request; // media parameters like height, width, etc.
    Sitecore.Resources.Media.Media media // item for which you want to read media cache.

    // set request.Options
    // set media

    // This is the media cache stored in MediaStream
    MediaStream mStream = MediaManager.Cache.GetStream(media, request.Options);

    // Write Media Stream to Media Cache

    // Manipulate your media file and set it into MediaStream

    // store the media stream to media cache.
    MediaManager.Cache.AddStream(media, request.Options, mStream, out outStream);

We can know more about Media Cache understanding below classes using Reflector:
- Sitecore.Resources.Media.MediaCache
- Sitecore.Resources.Media.MediaCacheRecord