Mental Floss

Here's Why YouTube Will Practically Never Run Out of Unique Video IDs

Andrew LaSane
facebooktwitterreddit

Have you ever glanced up at the URL of a YouTube video and wondered why there is a series of random letters and numbers at the end, instead of recognizable words separated by dashes and slashes like most other sites? Laughing Squid recently shared a video from YouTuber Tom Scott where he talks about counting systems and how they're used, and explains how YouTube's 11-character ID system is able account for each current and future video. 

According to Scott, YouTube's latest stats show that about 400 hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute. He adds that assigning IDs to all of those videos in numerical order would have required YouTube to synchronize its servers to prevent clips uploaded in different locations from being assigned the same number, which would have opened the website up to possible security issues. "Instead they just generate a random number for each video, see if it's taken, and if not, use it," Scott says.

By using a system called Base 64, YouTube has guaranteed itself a lot of wiggle room and a lot of unique 11-character combinations for its system to choose from. By Scott's math, the exact number is 73,786,976,294,838,206,464. "That is enough for every single human on Planet Earth to upload a video every minute for around 18,000 years," he notes.

Check out the video above to hear Scott's full lesson in counting systems, which he impressively does in a single take.

Banner image via YouTube

[h/t Laughing Squid]

facebooktwitterreddit