Where do big websites store all their uploads?

Probably kind of a newb question here, but I guess I don't really know the answer.

Sites like YouTube, Facebook, which probably have tens of thousands of uploads to them per day... do they just continually add hard drives to increase storage space for all this? Seems kind of impractical.  I remember back in the day, you were only allowed to upload a certain amount of data per user account. How do they handle the mass amounts of data constantly being uploaded to those sites? It must be thousands of gigs if not terabytes per day. Where's it all being stored?
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TymetwisterAsked:
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IMIronManCommented:
If I tried to explain it....you wouldn't believe me, so I let you take a look a how Google does it.  It's AMAZING!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRwPSFpLX8I
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
That's a cool video.  Here's more info: http://www.google.com/about/datacenters/  If you click on the 'Locations' link, you'll see that Google has at least 10 locations for data centers.  Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Godaddy and other major internet sites have similar setups.  And there are data centers for people you never heard of.  One data center in Colorado has 1,000,000 sq ft of floor space and room for 262,000 servers and of course, all that support equipment to run them.
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TymetwisterAuthor Commented:
I guess I'm still not absorbing the heart of what I was asking about. So... it pretty much is just adding an unthinkable amount of HDD's and storage space to house all of it in datacenters?
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Yep.  That Google video said it held 45,000 servers and each one would be a new machine in I think they said 2009.  That probably means 500GB or larger drives in each server.  And that is only 1 of 10 locations that they have around the world.  So some quick arithmetic comes to at least 450,000 hard drives with at least 22,000 Terabytes... and that is Just Google (Youtube is part of Google now).  Granted, it takes a while to install all those servers so you could say it just keeps on growing.  I wonder how long their servers last and how often they replace them with new machines.

You can Google info on the data centers for most of the large organizations.
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Shalom CarmelCTOCommented:
And don't forget that some of theses datacenters are used for cloud based storage - they rent out storage to anyone who wants it. Check out Amazon, Google, Microsoft Azure, RackSpace, Gogrid, Xerox, and others....

That's how many projects who need tons of storage start, when the risk does not justify building their own datacenters.
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IMIronManCommented:
And we keep getting bigger drive technology....Check out this news story:

A data repository almost 10 times bigger than any made before is being built by researchers at IBM's Almaden, California, research lab. The 120 petabyte "drive"—that's 120 million gigabytes—is made up of 200,000 conventional hard disk drives working together. The giant data container is expected to store around one trillion files and should provide the space needed to allow more powerful simulations of complex systems, like those used to model weather and climate.

A 120 petabyte drive could hold 24 billion typical five-megabyte MP3 files or comfortably swallow 60 copies of the biggest backup of the Web, the 150 billion pages that make up the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine.
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TymetwisterAuthor Commented:
All very interesting facts. I feel like I have a better understanding of how it works now. Thanks all.
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