How much does it cost to maintain TikTok servers?

Business Development
30 Jan
Stanislav Zayarsky

TikTok is a super popular social network that allows users to create short video clips and instantly share it with the world. 

At this exact moment, while I’m writing, 700 million of active users spend on average 52 minutes on TikTok every single day!

How much does it cost to maintain TikTok servers? 1

What are the monthly infrastructure costs for TikTok? Let’s find out!

We know that TikTok asks users to upload video with the following constraints

  • video file size 287.6 MB for IOS 
  • and 72 MB for Android.
  • Video length of single story is maximum 15 sec

We don’t know whether TikTok saves the original uploaded files, but for sure it Transcodes the content and finally when users watch video, it is downsized to 2 – 6 MB per video. Yes, only that small amount of data reaches final users, but everybody is happy.

We also know that TikTok users, during their daily activities, watch streams and upload their own videos. Let’s assume that 80% of time spent inside the app, users do only watch the content. Meaning 80% of 52 average daily spend minutes = 41 minutes of video surfing.

How many videos can we watch during 41 minute of surfing? Let’s assume users click likes, post comments, and that goes probably to 30 minutes of active video watching per day.

30 minutes converted 35×60 = 1800 seconds. Let’s divide that by 15 seconds for one video duration and we get 1800/15 = 120 videos. This is the average amount of videos users watch per day on TikTok.

120 videos x average video size (3MB) = 360 MB per day. Ok, so one user on average downloads less than half gigabyte of data per day. 

Good, now let’s multiply that by all active daily users 770 mln 🙂

770 mln x 360 MB = 252000000000 MB = 240326 TB (TeraBytes) = 235 PB (PetaBytes) per day.

And monthly that would be 235 PB x 30 days = 7041 PB (PetaBytes) per month.

TikTok obviously uses CDN (Content Delivery Network) to keep all the video files. And according to the latest information about CDN pricing the lowest possible price is $0.001 per GigaByte of transferred data.

How much does it cost to maintain TikTok servers? 2

Ok, so 7041 PB per month then transforms to data delivery expenses of $7,382,813 per month.

Cool, not much of a deal for a billion dollar company! 🙂

But that’s only a part of server expenses. TikTok also needs web servers to handle user requests and transcoding servers to transform videos. Also Database servers, and other different interesting tools which I will describe in a separate article.

As for now, I would assume that this is another big number of servers and will take maybe $500K-$700K  more. Therefore we can assume that TikTok spends roughly $8,000,000 for servers infrastructure per month.

And that’s only hardware, obviously they have Development Operations teams running the servers 24/7. Will try my best to estimate that number as well, in my next article about TikTok platform architecture

Meanwhile, feel free to check HQ Trivia business model and software architecture analysis. 

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