How a user got his hands on a 262 TB Netflix server

What would you do with 262TB of available storage? This is the question faced by an Internet user who recently managed to recover an old server belonging to Netflix. Spotted by Vicethe story told by a member of the Reddit community r/homelab allows you to discover behind the scenes behind the infrastructure of the SVOD giant.

Discs obviously erased

PoisonWaffle3, of its small name, explains working for an American Internet access provider which launched a major autumn cleaning to replace its aging servers. Among these machines was a Netflix cache server which was therefore graciously given to the employee, “who could not refuse“, in his own words.

The device is as sleek as you can imagine, with ventilation grilles, power outlets and LEDs that flash all over the place. “I knew Netflix erased them all in the decommissioning process, they were running FreeBSD, they were full of discs and that was about it. […] No features, no idea what was in the red box“, explains PoisonWaffle3. After three screwdriver strokes and a bit of caving, the box revealed its secrets: 64 GB of RAM, 36 disks of 7 and a few TB and an Intel Xeon E5-2650L v2 processor were running the machine.

A working machine

Technically, the server does not come directly from the Netflix data centers, as it is actually a cache server. These machines are traditionally installed with partners (ISPs or content delivery networks like Fastly) to improve access time to certain content. Rather than going for the latest episode of House of Cards on the other side of the Atlantic, a computer can draw the data available on these cache servers to go faster.

Unsurprisingly, at least one of the drives inside the machine appears to be at the end of its life. But the server is in good condition, since the lucky redditor was able to install TrueNAS on it, an operating system designed to create home servers. With 200 and a few TB available, we bet that PoisonWaffle3 will not lack space to store family photos!

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