Scaling your social media database for optimal performance

May 24, 2016


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Your social media database can be a handy weapon in your arsenal if it is scalabale and of high performance. Here is everything you need to know.

At every minute of the day, there are millions of people on social media platforms. To ensure that they are able to post, retrieve and read data in the site, there are social media database technologies supporting these websites.

Millions of people across the world have social media accounts. They check on these accounts every day and post information. They post pictures and videos as well. These social media websites have literally created a global village.

All about social media database technology

There are a number of activities that you can perform on a social media website. You can make posts of your day or experiences you’ve had. You can also comment on someone else’s posts and read data from a profile. In addition to that, you can post pictures or videos in your profile on the social media site. All this data has to be stored somewhere so that you can view it later. It is stored in specially constructed databases.

A database is a repository for data. It is capable of storing various types of information. It allows you to query it so as to retrieve data. It is managed by a specialist known as a Database Administrator (DBA). This individual has the power to adjust the database and make settings in it such that it is fast and performs as efficiently as possible.

There are many database technologies that are applied today, such as MySQL, SQL Server, and Oracle. Each one of these technologies has its advantages and features. As such, webmasters consult the DBAs to determine the best technology for a specific social media website. For the database to perform as fast as possible, there are a few characteristics that must be ensured when designing and building it.

Factors to consider while building a database for a social media website

There are a number of characteristics that a database of this type must have. These include:

  1. Ability to backup and perform data recovery

  2. The ability to allow for alerts, data auditing as well as information monitoring

  3. The ability to allow for extensive monitoring by the Database Administrator (DBA)

  4. Allow for activities such as triaging, discovering and repairing bugs. These activities can be done by a DBA or a team of experts.

  5. The database should be scalable so as to be able to accommodate a growing social media website

  6. It should have high performance specifications

  7. It should be able to tolerate faults that could occur during use

The database should be scalable

After a social media platform succeeds, the number of users grows every passing minute. This means that the database supporting the website should also be able to grow at a similar rate. Scalability refers to the ability of the database to grow. How many people can the database handle at the same time? This is a very important question that the administrators and designers providing DBA services for the social media website database should ask themselves.

The scalability of a social media website can be expressed as the number of requests that it can handle per second. With millions of people on the site every single second, it should be able to handle millions of requests per second. One of the strategies that are used in ensuring scalability is read-scaling. In this strategy, the database can be set such that there are 10 read slaves for every write master. This allows the database to handle multiple users at the same time and also allow for the addition of large amounts of information every minute of the day.

Another strategy that is used for scalability is write-scaling. This is a strategy where the data sets in the database are divided into horizontal partitions. In this strategy, the data structures are made such that they are lock free. This is done so as to ensure that the database can grow concurrently with the social media website.

It should have high performance

The performance of a database is measured in its response times. One that has high performance has very fast response times. These times are expressed in form of percentiles. For example, in a social media website database that has good performance, 95% of the read requests are served in less than 1 second. Moreover, 99% of the write requests are delivered in less than 2 seconds. These statistics ensure that the users of the social media website do not experience any lags in site performance.

To ensure that the database is able to achieve the above statistics, there are a number of settings and strategies that are applied. Some of these strategies include:

  1. Buffering the write activities

  2. Caching information requests

By caching the requests of information in the social media website, the requests for information in the website are reduced. Moreover, the time that it takes for the data to be delivered to the users is reduced as well. As a result, the users experience faster site performance. This strategy is very effective in ensuring that the users receive the information that they request from the website as fast as possible. However, there are some complexities that are associated with this strategy. Some of these include the operability, coherence as well as staleness of the website. Despite these complexities, the strategy of caching is very helpful when applied in a social media website.

Buffering write activities also increases the performance of the website. In this strategy, the write requests in the website are buffered so that they do not overwhelm the database. In addition to that, this strategy prevents the website from lagging and becoming slow. By doing this, the website is able to run faster and increase the user experience. One of the complexities that are involved in this strategy is fault tolerance.


For a social media website to work effectively, it should have a well-tuned database in the back end. Moreover, the right technology should be chosen to manage the user data. This increases the success rate of the social media site by increasing user satisfaction.

Sujain Thomas is a data IT professional who in addition to rendering DBA expert services runs a blog that is dedicated to sharing top quality open source resources for web designers and web developers.


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