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Rather than using a plugin to optimise images via the admin, would downloading and optimising locally work as well?

As in would downloading the uploads folder, using something like ImageOptim to optimise all the images then re-uploading them work?

Or for the site to take advanced of an optimised image does it need to be done online?

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Yes, downloading the images directory (uploads) and running through those images via any optimization software would work.

Only thing that you should take care of is that the images path and name should be same as before.

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It will solely depend on what file names your images are given after they are uploaded. If you've already installed a plugin to post-process those images, they could have a bunch of different versions with ranomized strings in some processed filenames.

However, if you are simply replacing the files with their optimized versions? I'd say go for it. The database only holds onto the file names and the image sizes, so as long as neither of those change, only the image size, you should be good to go.

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It would probably work, but if you do keep in mind what socki03 said.

I personally have never seen any reason to do so. I think the benefit does not outweigh the time it would take you to do so (on a regular basis).

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