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System Specifications

Bandwidth (Why Medium?): Instagram has very limited functionality. Although it is a social media platform, not very much information is shared. However, pictures and videos need more bandwidth than text, and Instagram is entirely composed of both of these.

Disk (Why Medium?): Instagram stores all of the pictures and videos uploaded by users. The photo-sharing network reached 1 billion total uploaded pictures in May of 2012, so Instagram needs lots of storage to house all of that information.

CPU (Why Low?): The app and website both have very limited functionality. Through your mobile phone, you can upload pictures or videos, follow other users, and find images through use of hashtags. Online, you can only see content from the users you follow and manage your account. CPU is only needed when a user tries to find another user, searches through hashtags, or communicates to another user through likes or comments.

RAM (Why Low?): Content is never searched for outside of hashtags.

Scalability (Why Medium?): The amount of use remains pretty steady at about 58 pictures uploaded and one new user each second. Surprisingly, holidays do require a lot of scalability for Instagram: during Thanksgiving of 2012, 200 pictures with captions or hashtags related to the holiday were uploaded each second, nearly four times the normal amount.


Instagram is a social networking platform based off the sharing of pictures. Users can take a picture, then apply one of 17 filters to it during the editing process. After the user posts a picture, all of his or her followers can see it, like it, and comment on it. Content can be hashtagged and searched for through hashtags. Instagram recently added a video function, allowing users to apply filters to and post 14 second videos. Instagram also integrates with other social media, so users can share their pictures across multiple networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and FourSquare). Currently, Instagram has over a million visitors each month.


Launched in October of 2010, Instagram was founded by Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom in San Francisco. Within hours of making it available in the Apple App Store, Instagram had 10,000 users. Hashtags were added in 2011, and the number of users jumped from 5 million to 10 million in the same year. When the Android app was released in 2012, it had over one million downloads in one day.

Facebook made its biggest acquisition ever when it bought Instagram for $1 billion.  Mark Zuckerberg announced that he wanted Instagram to continue to be independently run. Some criticized the buyout because Flickr, a comparable program, had been previously bought by Yahoo! for $35 million.

Also in 2012, Instagram experienced a lot of backlash during a controversy in which the company had considered selling users’ images. Instagram planned to use these images for advertisements, but an unpredicted uproar from users – tespecially celebrities that had Instagram accounts – caused them to reconsider. Instagram changed its terms of service to reflect each user’s ownership of their uploaded images.

In June of 2013, Instagram began to offer video sharing as well as picture sharing. The change was prompted by one of Instagram’s competitors, Vine. Started in 2012, Vine is very similar to Instagram, except that users create and share 7-second videos. Instagram’s videos can be 15 seconds long, and filters can also be applied.

Currently, Instagram claims to have more than 150 million active users each month. Instagram.com is the 39th most popular website worldwide.


Instagram’s most differential feature is its 17 filters. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Flickr, and other social media programs all allow photo sharing, but the editing capabilities aren’t as effective. The greater amount of time in Instagram’s video features, as well as the filters, gives it an edge above Vine. Hashtags allow users to search for pictures based on descriptions, and helps users increase the popularity of their own images. Instagram hosts a “Weekend Hashtag Project” every week; they encourage users to take photos of specific items, such as birds on telephone wires, and hashtag them with the chosen weekend hashtag.


Instagram hosts with Amazon’s Cloud (EC2). It is estimated that Instagram has 39 servers, due to their using 1.466 TB of bandwidth a day, though with information spread throughout the cloud network, it’s difficult to know exactly. Using the cloud has prevented Instagram from having scalability issues, but the social media platform was down August 25, 2013 because of hardware issues with one of Amazon Cloud’s data centers .



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