The Impact Of Image Metadata On Website Speed And Performance

Dexecure's investigation of the effects of metadata on performance revealed that as much as 16% of images on the internet contain metadata.

Unfortunately, many people fail to realize they're sharing image data, and oftentimes users are unaware that an image has been downloaded.

In this article, we will discern the impact of image metadata on website speed and performance. 

Dexecure wanted to identify how much irrelevant metadata is present in images on the internet, so they combined information from HTTP Archive with BigQuery in order to create an index of URLs for legitimate JPEG images.

Searching the archive since August 1st, 2016, yielded 4.3 million images from 500 000 websites totaling 195 GB. After downloading all these images and analyzing their metadata, Dexecure concluded that there was likely much more hidden away there.

Dexecure researchers discovered that 38.9% of images contained metadata, accounting for 15.8% of their total size. Dexecure report includes:

"Let that sink in – if each of these top sites were just visited once, nearly 13 GB of data could have been saved on the internet if these websites were handling the metadata properly!"

What metadata are we talking about? According to research, it mainly includes details about the creation of an image, such as when and where it was taken and its camera settings.

Image metadata can have a major influence on website speed and performance. Here are some ways image metadata may contribute to these effects:

File Size

Image metadata can significantly increase the file size of an image, slowing down page load times. Removing unnecessary metadata will reduce this size, making the image faster to load overall.

Server Requests

Metadata such as thumbnails or preview images is typically stored separately on the server, increasing the number of requests and decreasing page load speeds. By loading these additional files, however, additional server requests can be made, which in turn increases page load times.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Descriptive metadata such as keywords and captions can aid with SEO and increase the visibility of an image in search results. However, too much metadata may slow down search engines' capacity to crawl and index pages quickly.


Some metadata formats may not be supported by all browsers or devices, leading to issues with image display and slower page load times.


Optimizing image metadata to enhance website performance requires eliminating redundant information and using efficient metadata formats. When designing a website, consider how metadata impacts page load times and server requests.

EXIF information, the majority of which is unusable to website visitors and not required for browsers to render images correctly, should not be retained. Unless you're a professional photographer or employed by an entity that requires data storage to protect copyrights or another legitimate purpose, there is no reason why image metadata should be retained.

Therefore, whenever possible, it's best to remove this information when you are certain that neither you nor your users require it.