back to article Facebook Frankenphoto morgue will store your cold, dead selfies FOREVER

The term “cold storage” has something of the morgue about it. Dead bodies in refrigerated cabinets, what an image. Facebook is backing the use of a photo morgue, the use of cold storage for old pix. Old photos will have low individual access rates but when access is wanted it is wanted at faster speeds than a tape library …


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  1. BigAndos

    Amazing... all this expertise and effort being thrown at solving the problem of, as the headline says, storing old photos on Facebook! All so we can upload an unlimited amount of junk and FB can keep selling access to us to advertisers? Couldn't we divert some of these engineering minds to something slightly more useful like, I don't know, renewable energy?

    No icon as I can't find one for "prematurely miserable old git"

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Your old photos aren't going to be much use to advertisers. One assumes if the advertisers needed these photos they couldn't be stored in this way!

      Very interesting tech, but moving to such vibration-sensitive drives seems like a step back. The benefits must be significant to outweigh such delicate hardware...

      1. Tom_

        No, he means facebook can keep selling access to users to advertisers. The archive is used to keep those users returning to facebook so they are available for sale.

      2. FrankAlphaXII

        >>Very interesting tech, but moving to such vibration-sensitive drives seems like a step back. The benefits must be significant to outweigh such delicate hardware...

        I was thinking the same thing as the whole idea reminds me of very old consumer grade CD burners. You know, the ones where you had to tiptoe around the area the case was in otherwise the vibration would make the burn operation fail. Used to frustrate the hell out of me.

    2. Timmay

      Useful outside of old Facebook photos

      Just because the technology was developed for what you regard as a pointless purpose, doesn't mean that is all it is useful for.

      To be honest, if Facebook keep developing interesting technologies and then sharing them with the world in case anyone else has a use for it, I'm all for it.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Useful outside of old Facebook photos

        I am sure the NSA might like storage of that capacity. I am wondering if there isn't already a 'you build it, we'll buy it' arrangement in place.

        It is a little worrisome that both FB and NSA appear to want to keep everything they know about everyone for as long as possible. Hard to tell which should be most feared long term.

  2. AkodoGilador

    1.38 exabytes would be a fair chunk of the 8.2 exabytes shipped last year: (link borrowed from xkcd:

  3. Pen-y-gors

    Not sure if the name is right

    Is this really cold storage? I'd say more lukewarm - when it's needed it's needed pretty quickly.

    The analogy to pre-digital storage would be that the the stuff you need at once is on your desk, the other recent stuff is in the filing cabinet by your desk. Last year's stuff is in the basement, and the stuff you have to keep legally, but are really, really unlikely to access is kept in a warehouse across town - that's the real cold storage. What they're describing here covers the stuff in the basement.

    Amazon Glacier is real cold storage - 3 hour retrieval time.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd love to see is the

    Sysadmin's face when a drive fails and he realises somebody has done whole rack in Networked RAID6 ...

    [facebook ~]# Rebuild time: 6 Months, 10 days and 15hrs ..

    1. tentimes

      Re: I'd love to see is the

      Or somebody farts and the vibrations wipes out hundreds of dead people...

      1. justincormack


        Wait till you see the damage from a small earthquake. Think of the kittens!

    2. CristieStorageMonkey

      Re: I'd love to see is the

      [Disclaimer: Given this is written text, I'm not sure whether or not your comment was in jest...]

      } If not, that would - quite frankly - never hapen due to the way Facebook (and almost all big data houses) architect their platforms. Availability of individual components, or their lack of due to failures (be it drives or servers), do not adversely impact the availability of others. Gone are the days of traditional RAID, for example, for these guys.

      } If so, [chuckles] :-)

  5. fawlty

    FB is just like my parents attic

    Full of pointless, badly shot photos, correspondence and newspapers/magazines. Someones going to have to either sort through it all at some stage and decide what to keep, or bung the whole lot on a bonfire in the garden in exasperation.

    Anyhow, whats next - will FB be keeping all those games of farmville and thrown sheep *in case the kids ever want to play with them*...

    We should just change the name to now and be done with it.


    1. Luke McCarthy

      Re: FB is just like my parents attic

      Nah, it's probably not worth the bother, just delete it all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FB is just like my parents attic

      "We should just change the name to now and be done with it."

      I just bought that domain name. Make me an offer.

  6. Timbo

    So, they'll have a data centre comprising 11,520 servers (each with 30 HDD's installed).

    How much power is that lot going to consume? Even if only 2 HDD's are active at any one time, the servers themselves must be powered up, the CPU's must be active as well as NIC's and SIMM's.

    And then there's the closet full of network switches and other ancillary bits and pieces.....

    Hope the advertisers and accountants will be happy with all of this.

    PS How do you "back-up" 1.38 Exabytes of data ????

    1. Callam McMillan

      Build two data centres... Simples!

      Come on, it's big tech, who seriously expects them not to piss money away!

    2. CristieStorageMonkey

      You don't. Well, not really. You just ensure availability of that data, and leave as high a proportion of errors down to individual users. And often, when they're not paying, any user error is their fault and they shouldn't have been so silly.

  7. Elmer Phud

    Pet hotel

    "That's 1.38 exabytes of raw capacity."

    That's 1.3 exabytes of cats, dogs and babies.

    Several petabytes

  8. Pierson


    Please, pass the brain bleach - I speed-read the headline on RSS as 'cold dead stiffies'...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice accurate description of Fakebook users

    "Dead bodies in refrigerated cabinets, what an image Facebook"

  10. Lamont Cranston

    "shingled drive products"?

    I'd just finished pebble dashing my HDD, too.

  11. tentimes

    April fools?

    It's only September?

  12. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Naughty El Reg......

    ... The headline implies that old chestnut of users photos never being deleted even if the owner wants it.

  13. Daniel Johnson


    If only Zuckerberg had thought to add a checkbox when he first programmed Facebook:

    "[x] Delete post after 30 days?"

  14. heyrick Silver badge

    That's 1.38 exabytes of raw capacity. Wow!

    Isn't this sort of what YouTube gets every couple of days?

  15. cyberdemon Silver badge

    Facebook are not storing YOUR data for YOUR benefit

    They are storing THEIR data for the benefit of THEIR data-mining!



    I really do think that it is imporant to preserve selfies like these:

    For ever.

  17. TimChuma
    Thumb Down

    Why should I make Facebook more money?

    I was putting a "preview" gallery of photos on my Facebook page before I did the proper version for my website, but it turns out no one was going to my website to look at the photos and assuming the Facebook version was the final one. I was doing the same work twice for no reason and giving Facebook the page views and advertising revenue for no reason.

    I did have to upgrade the system to handle photos on my website though, just doing a plain HTML gallery may have been fast, but was a pain to update whenever I had to take photos down. At least I still have the photo galleries stored locally.

  18. Parax

    Assuming they use 4TB SMR drives: 4 x 345,600 = 1,382,400TB

    Assuming Raid @ ~75% = 1.0 EB Total usable space.

    So the 744 racks number starts to make sense...

    1. CristieStorageMonkey

      Re: Assuming they use 4TB SMR drives: 4 x 345,600 = 1,382,400TB

      It's *highly* unlikely Facebook use RAID practices for the bulk of user data....

  19. EPurpl3

    This is nonsense, one of the dumbest technology ever. Why don't they use SSD, ultra speed, no vibration problem, no overheating, low power usage. Cheap Facebook

  20. Great Bu

    1.38 exabytes of raw capacity. At last !

    The solution to my ever growing internet porn storage issues. At least until the weekend.

  21. CristieStorageMonkey

    With 1,382,400TB of raw storage, assuming a maximum of 2 drives is active per device tray gives us 92,160TB of actual, raw storage at any one time. If we then assume that the ratio of original:copy data is 1:2 (for availability), we have 30,720TB of usable storage at any one time.

    30PB is still an incredible figure, considering that there are potentially 15 multiples of this (totalling ~460PB) of disk storage from that all-disk datacentre.

    I don't know how the data placement algorithms work, but it would seem most logical if the relative objects are collated and spread across one particular lot of drives, unless these drives are themselves broken down into logical groups which may be necessary, given the sheer number of drives that could be active at any one time (23,040 drives in total x 4TB = 92,160TB). Drive groups could then be spun up and spun down based on user activity, for instance, one individual flicking through photos in various albums they own or are tagged in.

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