To date, Facebook’s 200 million active users upload about 850 million photos and eight million videos per month, according to the company. While most users don’t consider the burdens of hosting that much information, Facebook’s leaders and investors surely are, if a report from Data Center Knowledge provides any indication of how much it costs to run the site.
According to the analysis, Facebook spends between $20 million to $25 million alone on the space that houses its servers. That figure does not include the cost of equipment (mostly servers) used to host the data.
DCK’s estimate will further fuel speculation about the rate at which Facebook is spending its cash, which has led the company to seek additional financing. The site was able to make its estimate because Facebook leases the data center space; it doesn’t own it. Facebook’s data center landlords (Digital Realty Trust and DuPont Fabros) made the information public through quarterly earnings statements and SEC filings that DCK obtained.
The $25 million price tag includes Facebook’s main data center spaces in Silicon Valley (where it has two), Virginia and Santa Clara, Calif. More established technology heavyweights Google and Microsoft own their main data center properties. What’s perhaps more striking about the report is that the estimate doesn’t account for all of Facebook’s back-end costs:
[The report] doesn’t include Facebook’s investments in server and storage hardware, which is substantial. Some reports say the company spent $30 million on servers in 2007 and another $60 million in 2009. There’s also the cost of electricity to power the servers, which is not included in the data center lease.
While this report isn’t foolproof, it makes some educated guesses about just how much money it takes to support Facebook’s operations. Soon, Facebook may need more capital in order to keep things moving – be it through an IPO or additional funding.