Facebook planning “cold storage” data facility for old photos

Feb 22, 2013
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There are some 240 billion photos taking up precious space on Facebook's servers, with another 350 million photos uploaded every day. Facebook has discovered that not all of these photos get looked at anymore. Many older photos and albums lay dormant because they get pushed aside by newer photos and albums. In order to handle all of these photos, Facebook is planning to launch a data facility specifically for storing older photos on the social network.

In total, Facebook is preparing to launch three new "cold storage" facilities at its data centers in Prineville, Oregon, in which the first one will open sometime this fall. However, unlike regular servers that are always powered on and ready to go, these servers will purposely be put on standby in order to open up their regular servers to more important tasks.

Essentially, these standby servers will be on in a way, but they won't be fully operated unless there's a request. For instance, if a user wants to look at some old photos on Facebook, the standby server that has these older photos stored on will wake up and operate until the user is no longer looking at those photos.

According to Facebook, 82% of its traffic goes toward just 8% of its photos. The company also says that its cold storage servers will have eight times the capacity of their traditional servers, and will be five times more energy efficient. Facebook's Oregon datacenters used up approximately 71 million kilowatts of power in just nine month's time, but they say that the cold storage facilities are expected to cost much less than normal servers.

[via The Oregonian]


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