Imgur.com vs Minus.com? Google+ Sliding In

GIFs are everywhere. The short attention spans of the internet-going public combined with better network speeds and higher bandwith has made the GIF a perfect medium for conveying short bursts of information (that is, until HTML5 video catches on). It’s quite remarkable that this relatively ancient technology is fast becoming the preferred way of communicating short “videos” where sound is a non-essential factor.

Reddit-inspired imgur.com is considered the de facto standard for sharing non-personal images across the internet (Instagram owns the personal domain). The free account allows for 5MB uploads (recently changed form 2MB) and a paid account is currently at 10MB. GIFs however, are becoming larger and larger in size. These limits inspired the creation of minus.com, a service that boasts a limit of 15MB which is good enough for most GIFs that are created. The latter service, however, lacks in speed and comes equipped with a horrible mobile site that, if not changed, will bleed them users. Also-rans in the field also include PhotoBucket, ImageShack, and countless others that for one reason or the other (e.g., poor interfaces, disjointed user experience) are simply not options.

This is where Google+ and the now infamous googleusercontent.com domain comes in. The fledgling social network has attracted users (myself included) in a manner that may have been entirely unintended: large size image sharing. Built on the famed infrastructure of Google, Google+ stores its images on sub-domains of googleusercontent.com, which delivers images at a speed that blows out imgur.com and minus.com.

I did some benchmarking (non-scientific) using the siege command in Linux and it looks like I caught Imgur.com on a bad day, but nonetheless, the difference between Google+ and the rest is mind boggling. The following is a test against a GIF of 3.521 MB.

Minus.com

$siege -c20 -d1 -t1m http://i.minus.com/izTmeKJf6TLib.gif
Transactions: 340 hits
Availability: 100.00 %
Elapsed time: 59.80 secs
Data transferred: 1169.07 MB
Response time: 2.91 secs
Transaction rate: 5.69 trans/sec
Throughput: 19.55 MB/sec
Concurrency: 16.53
Successful transactions: 340
Failed transactions: 0
Longest transaction: 4.01
Shortest transaction: 1.88

Imgur.com

Transactions: 105 hits
Availability: 100.00 %
Elapsed time: 59.90 secs
Data transferred: 361.04 MB
Response time: 8.31 secs
Transaction rate: 1.75 trans/sec
Throughput: 6.03 MB/sec
Concurrency: 14.57
Successful transactions: 105
Failed transactions: 0
Longest transaction: 24.61
Shortest transaction: 0.50

Google+

$siege -c20 -d1 -t1m https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-9HgHEsdRfXY/Ukcmb4Qx6MI/AAAAAAAAANM/9e88oZQBbOQ/w506-h284/ramseysh.gif
Transactions: 668 hits
Availability: 100.00 %
Elapsed time: 59.49 secs
Data transferred: 2296.87 MB
Response time: 1.26 secs
Transaction rate: 11.23 trans/sec
Throughput: 38.61 MB/sec
Concurrency: 14.17
Successful transactions: 668
Failed transactions: 0
Longest transaction: 2.21
Shortest transaction: 0.71

Give it some time and Google+ will be taking over. It’s already started.

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