Before we start, I would like you to perform this simple experiment.
Goto your facebook account, check for any picture like profile pic, image in a news feed or any thumbnail. Right click on the image and Click on ‘Open image in a new tab’ (I am assuming you are using Google Chrome).
Once you have opened the image in a new tab, check the address bar.
You will find something like this,
Notice the akamaihd.net domain in the URL. So the image which you found on facebook is actually hosted on akamaihd.net. Are you surprised? Maybe not, if you didn’t understand whats really going on.
Let me explain, The photos which you upload to facebook, are actually being uploaded to akamaihd.net. Now the question is, What is akamaihd.net and Why are your photos hosted on akamaihd.net?
What is akamaihd.net?
Akamai Technologies is actually a CDN, where CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. This answers almost everything if you know how CDN works. We’ll talk about CDN in this post, but first lets check out a fun fact about Akamai.
Akamai is pronounced as Acme. Does it sound familiar to you? Acme was a fictional corporation in Roadrunner Cartoons. It used to provide several products which would fail at the worst times.
Image Source familyguy.wikia.com
What is a CDN ?
A CDN (content delivery network) will receive your data and place it on several different servers all over the world. This makes that particular content to load faster for anyone who wants to access it. This is because the content will be delivered to the end user from the nearest possible server holding the content.
Without CDN, the content will reside only on one server. And thus the users who are close to the server can access the content faster than the users who are away from it.
For example, If my content is located on a server in India. Then users in Asia will have better latency (less time delay) compared to users from America, Europe or Australia.
Why facebook photos are uploaded to Akamaihd.net ?
Akamai has several CDN networks, where akamaihd.net is one of the CDN. Facebook is a large network and it has to deliver data at faster speeds to each and every user. And to do so, it requires a CDN.
Facebook uses akamaihd.net as CDN. This is why your photos are uploaded to akamaihd and not to facebook. So whenever you request to view a photo on facebook, your request is actually sent to the nearest possible akamaihd server. This server returns the requested photo. And since its the nearest possible server, you will get the requested photo with a minimum time delay.
Previous year, Many people faced a problem in which the images on their facebook account were not loading. I don’t know if you witnessed this or not. But this might have happened because facebook blocked the akamaihd.net servers on a temporary basis, maybe for maintenance purposes or for pushing new updates.
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