How to delete previously uploaded attachments? (currently replaced by some others)

Hi!

Previously, I uploaded an attachment to Airtable (let’s say A), using API. Now, I have replaced it with some other (let’s say B).

Now, generally since A was replaced with B, there should be no trace left of A - right?
But actually, when I go to the URL of A, the image is still visible.

Should I assume it’s still there in my base, still holding 1mb (size of A) of my Attachment space? Since I have replaced it, why is it still viewable?


So, is it possible to make Airtable delete the image permanently, so it doesn’t occupy space in my attachments limit of 5GB? Or any workaround for this?
I don’t want to keep track of previous images, and if user replaces it, the previous one should be permanently deleted, and the new one would appear from then.

Any help would be great :smiley_cat:
Thanks! :)

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Hey there! I believe it’s actually just version history, if you’re referring to the feed on the right hand side of your record? I don’t believe this counts towards any limits.

Can you share a screenshot so we can see what you mean?

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I have often wondered this myself but had not run into a use case yet where I needed to know.

The persistence of the attachment might be related to history and the ability to undo/restore data. If you want to restore an earlier snapshot of a base when it had the first attachment, you would expect the prior attachment to still be there. Thus, the prior attachment still needs to be saved somewhere.

It is also possible for the same attachment to be stored in multiple records and possibly even multiple bases. Thus, it can be hard to tell if an attachment is still being used or not.

It would be nice if Airtable created a method of managing files in attachment space so that we could clean up that space if necessary. Of course, the current workaround is to upgrade a workspace to get more attachment space.

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Thanks for the replies @kuovonne @andywingrave! :smiley_cat:


I am fine if it keeps the history - but would it occupy my attachment space even if it’s replaced?
For example, if 1st file is A - 5mb, and it’s replaced with B - 7mb.
So, at the end of the day, 7mb of my space would be occupied? I think it would be occupied till my revision time limit - right?

Thanks!

@Kartik
That’s probably a question best answered by Airtable directly.

I would personally expect that you would be using 12mb until you past the revision history time limit for deleting file A. However, I don’t know the details, and it might not work that way.

You can try creating an attachment in a free workspace, storing the url somewhere, deleting the attachment, and then waiting two weeks for the revision history to expire, and checking the url for the attachment again.

@kuovonne Would definitely try this, thanks!


Till the above process how can I catch Airtable’s attention here?

Thanks! :smiley_cat:

The only way I have seen that completely resets the attachment occupation is to delete the record, reinstantiate it as a new record with the new attachment(s).

Thanks @Bill.French for the idea! :smiley_cat:

Unfortunately, this idea/solution won’t be feasible for me, because

  • a) I have a very large audience - 10s of people are accessing the data p/second. So, within the time the row gets deleted, and new row appears, things might go wrong …
  • b) I am keeping record of the rows by their unique _id everywhere - so continuously updating the records will not be easy too.

So, the best thing left for me would be going along with the database, and if I am about to reach my attachment limit, I would upgrade to the next plan. Currently I am on the Plus Plan, which provides 5GB for Attachments, and record history of 6 months.

Thanks!

Yep - not a useful strategy where immutable records are required.

I’m becoming more concerned about this feature of Airtable myself. I am thinking of upgrading to Enterprise shortly but am going to ask if it is possible to delete uploaded attachments before the end of the recovery period (1 year on Pro) that I won’t need to recover. I see no reason to keep them online and wonder if there are any obligations Airtable have under data protection law to fully delete previously uploaded attachments and their associated URLS if you specifically request this.

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I have a client who requested this through support and they are accommodating her desires.

That’s good to hear, thanks Bill :slight_smile:

I’ve reached out to Airtable Support with this very question, what happens to an attachment after its been deleted? I suspect that if my Base or records are no longer referencing an attachment (that it’s been deleted, and my version history and “Trash” have been emptied) that I would expect an Airtable garbage collection task to remove my deleted files eventually.

Can anyone advise if this is the case, or are all files uploaded onto Airtable available for ever and ever and all eternity, even if the record, table and base have all been deleted? :thinking:

There are two issues here. (1) how long a file counts towards your attachment quota and (2) how long an attachment is available at a particular url.

It appears that a file counts toward your attachment quota as long as it is in your history so that it can be restored.

However, in November Airtable is switching to expiring urls, so you will no longer need to worry about attachments remaining accessible at a particular url for more than a few hours.

Thanks @kuovonne - that’s November 2022? Where did you read/hear about this, and do you have a link handy? Expired URL’s would work with my project, as I’m extracting and processing attached data but can then delete the attachment immediately afterwards - and with expiring URL’s, that would cover my concerns perfectly.

Keep in mind that you will no longer to able to extract urls using formula fields. (Urls in formula fields will be invalid.) You must use a different method to extract the urls, such as scripting or CSV export, depending on whether you want a viewer url or a url to the actual file.

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