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Facebook puts old photos on ice

The social network is building a "cold storage" unit to make room in the fridge for the 350 million photos uploaded to the site each day.

Facebook's data center in Prineville, Ore.

Facebook will preserve your aged photos using the tried-and-true freezer method, as billions of pictures are headed for colder climates: a "cold storage" unit at Facebook's Prineville, Ore., data center.

Yesterday, the social network opened up the in-construction building to members of the media to demonstrate how it plans to make room in the fridge for the more than 350 million new photo uploads it sees each day, but still keep distant memories alive for revisiting.

Facebook currently houses 240 billion photos, a massive collection that consumes 7 petabytes per month. The cold storage process takes into account a photo's life cycle to transfer a "cold" photo, or one that's transitioned from active moment to old memory, to a more efficient cold storage server.

The company plans to have the first of three 16,000-square-foot cold storage data hubs functioning by fall, according to The Oregonian. The paper paid a visit to the new data center yesterday and said the building is currently just a frame and a concrete pad.

Last month, Jay Parikh, Facebook's vice president of infrastructure, explained that the company's process for storing photos was too inefficient to support the active storage of billions of photos. The new cold storage rack, which will keep cold photos on ice, has eight times the storage capacity of a normal server, but consumes a quarter of the power.

In essence, the specialized units have been designed to let Facebook freeze photo memories and thaw them out when need be.