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I have been working on building a social networking website, I'm pretty committed to this and I think I have something that could work out. I hope to be launching it January 1st, and so I have a question for server setup and such.

Facebook has separate domain names/servers for their photos (and I don't know what else), so I would assume that by doing this it would help spread the server loads out. So I am wondering if it would make a very big difference in speed if I had my main server for basically everything, but had another server and such that the photos would be stored on and access them the same way that facebook does.

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  • If you're going to vote down my question, and answers to my questions, you should at least respond to it. Nov 23, 2012 at 1:14
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    There is simply no answer to this other then 'it depends'. It depends on a lot of things. Come up with a way to simulate load then test your site. Then try breaking it up.
    – Zoredache
    Nov 23, 2012 at 1:23
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    Honestly, learn to walk before you can run. If you're not sure how to scale, or even why/when you should scale out then you're not ready to build a social network.
    – MDMarra
    Nov 23, 2012 at 2:19
  • Well, I am not a networking/server whatever you want to call it genius, I deal with as little of that as possible. I am primarily a coding "genius", so really I am perfectly capable of building a social network unlike you're saying, however I would strongly agree that I am not able to deal with the expansion of servers and such if needed, so that's where I would hire server geniuses to do their thing. Nov 23, 2012 at 5:24

2 Answers 2

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So I am wondering if it would make a very big difference in speed if I had my main server for basically everything, but had another server and such that the photos would be stored on and access them the same way that facebook does.

What Facebook does with things like photos is serve them off a CDN. There are a number of CDN offerings you can avail yourself of - ones I've played with include CloudFlare and Amazon CloudFront. Both are very nice.

If your site becomes successful and popular, eventually you'll need more than one server, if for no other reason than redundancy in case one crashes... but chances are that's something you can worry about more once you're up and running.

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The reason why Facebook and others use multiple servers is because the site is an Asynchronous Web Applications this mean that is based on AJAX requests, this is great because the different zones of the page are loaded and refresh independently of one another.

The problem with a BIG web-application is they generate a great amount of HTTP Requests. The browsers IE, Firefox, etc. have a limited number of concurrent HTTP Request per server, so more servers more concurrent HTTP Requests.

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    The reason Facebook and others use multiple servers has nothing to do with AJAX. It has everything to do with the fact that one server can't handle that level of traffic, AJAX or otherwise (not to mention the fact that even if it could, you wouldn't want Facebook going down if a single server crashed).
    – ceejayoz
    Nov 23, 2012 at 2:13

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