Facebook to Freeze Old Photos

facebook1These days, it’s not uncommon to see people taking pictures pretty much everywhere. While the practice years ago was for people to take pictures only on special occasions, today, the norm is to see people holding up their digital cameras or cell phone cameras and taking pictures of anything that catches their fancy – from the beautiful city skyline to the gorgeous slice of chocolate cake sitting on their table. Many innocent people are probably unaware that somebody took their picture just for fun and that their faces have gone viral on social media.

Social media is probably the number one reason why people love to take pictures. They see something interesting, click their cameras to capture it, and upload the photo to share it with their friends. Among the social media platforms available today, Facebook is the most popular. Consequently, it also gets the greatest volume of photo uploads from users all over the world. Features that allow easy uploading of photos is one of the things users love about Facebook, and they waste no time sharing photos that show interesting segments of their day.

At present, Facebook keeps 240 billion photos in storage every month. This amounts to a total of 7 petabytes. With so many users from different parts of the world, the number of photos that get uploaded to Facebook reaches about 350 million each day, and that number continues to increase. With more and more uploads coming in, Facebook has come up with a solution regarding the storage of all the photos that users upload to their servers.

They have decided to freeze old photos. Facebook’s Vice President of Infrastructure Engineering Jay Parikh said that the social media company’s present method of storing old photos is no longer enough to store the large volume of photos from Facebook users. This is the reason why they are building a “cold” storage rack where they will freeze and store old photos. This new storage has eight times more space than the old server. However, it uses up less electricity, about 75% less than the previous one.

How exactly will Facebook freeze old photos? Well, the principle is the same as preserving something in a freezer. The photos will be kept in the social media company’s data center in Prineville, Oregon where the new storage building is being constructed, and they will be brought out to thaw when users need them again. This way, the photos remain accessible and do not have to be deleted to give way for more space.

The massive 16,000 square foot building will house two joined storage centers, each with a capacity to hold one exabyte of data. These data centers will be designed to shift into sleep mode when the data is not being accessed. To cut back on energy costs, these giant servers will be cooled as they go into an idle state. Facebook users will still be able to access photos and other data that are stored in these servers, but there will be a delay of a few seconds, which will be hardly noticeable. Newer photo uploads and other data that are accessed often will be stored in active servers where they will be readily accessible.

According to Facebook, only 8% of the total amount of photos uploaded to its servers receives 85% traffic. Thus, deciding to keep the least accessed data in cold storage will allow for a more efficient way to store data and save energy. Aside from the new facility in Oregon, Facebook is also building another data center in Sweden, which will be the company’s first data center outside US. The data center in Sweden will use the naturally cold environment to keep their servers in low temperatures.