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Recently I changed media storage from db to files via System > Configuration > System and synchronized.

It finished successfully but seems to have reverted back to saving product images in the database.

Do I also have to change <session_save><![CDATA[db]]></session_save> to <session_save><![CDATA[files]]></session_save> in app/etc/local.xml as well?

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You should not need to modify that configuration setting. It is used to determine if user session data is stored in the File System (default) or in the database.

The setting you changed should make the required update once you hit run the "Sync" function, it should copy all of the files from the database to the file system then proceed to storing the assets on the file system.

This post provides a good explanation : What is core_file_storage table in Magento?

Try testing the following :

  1. Make sure logging is enabled on your installation. Go to System > Configuration in the Menu, then on the bottom left choose Advanced > Developer and expand the Log Settings tab. Select Enabled = Yes enter image description here

  2. Validate that the Admin panel still shows the configuration you made originally. If not, reset media storage to file system.

  3. Run the sync operation

  4. Navigate to media / catalog / product You should see folders in there based on the first letters of the images that are used in your product catalog. If you don't see the folders there, there was a problem with your sync operation.

  5. Check the var / log / system.log and exception.log files to see if there were any errors or warnings reported during the sync operation.

Normally, problems with the sync operation occur because of invalid permission settings on the directory where files are stored. If you're using a unix / linux file systems, the process running your webserver (usually apache or httpd) needs to have write permissions to the media folder.

Can you confirm what those settings are to help troubleshoot?

  • The sync operation successfully created the media/catalog/product folders and files. The Admin panel however still shows the old database settings. The sync operation also takes 3-4 days to complete, so I can't see how I can click Save Config – user3251328 Apr 7 '15 at 5:05
  • That IS a long time, which probably means that there was a lot of content in the DB to be written to the file system. If you clicked Save Config before and it didn't "stick" then there should be something relating to a failure or some warning in the system.log or exception.log files. Since we know the sync operation completed, the next thing to check is if the Save Config operation failed. If you already had logging enabled you can check now. If not, you'll have to run it again to see what failed. Post anything you find here and let's check it out. – Bryan 'BJ' Hoffpauir Jr. Apr 7 '15 at 5:20
  • Yes. I also have foolishly imported another few thousand product images before I realised that it was still saving images into the database. So I guess I will have to wait another couple of days for the sync operation to finish again... – user3251328 Apr 7 '15 at 5:28
  • The thing is, you cannot click Save Config until the sync finishes. Also the log files contained no errors relating to the sync. – user3251328 Apr 7 '15 at 5:32
  • I don't think there's any other way around waiting for it to finish...I would try it again after deleting the log files so that you know the only thing being written to the logs are errors that are being generating as a result of you running the process... – Bryan 'BJ' Hoffpauir Jr. Apr 24 '15 at 3:10

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