Rule of Acquisition #95: Expand or Die

It’s been an interesting year so far to say the least. Things are looking a bit different than I imagined.

I want to talk about a few things in this post:

  •’s Unexpected Surge in Use
  •’s Future and Expansion
  • Sapphire Accounts + Mixtape Premium

First Mixtape’s growth.

On July 9th, 2015, I opened up running on the simple Pomf PHP script. I had no idea how far it would go at the time. In the first week and we had already hit 100GB of bandwidth usage in a week.

mixtape bandwidth first week’s bandwidth during the first week of operation. 100GB of bandwidth.

Key elements I wanted to hit was to be very fast. Instant homepage load to quickly upload something. Fast upload and URL generation. Fast access times to view a file.

Kept a minimal homepage design, very little code to load, compressed and cached elements for what little was needed. I spent a lot of time pouring over NGINX and PHP5 documentation and guides to optimize the site’s configuration and request times to be as small as possible.

Fast page loads and a simple frontpage

Fast page loads and a simple frontpage

I even hosted the site on Solid State Drives too. I didn’t want anything to slow the site. No I/O wait times and fast read access times. I don’t have a RAID of 50 HDDs. I had the option of at best a RAID 1 of consumer drives or some SSD VPS on Linode. I went with the VPS. Linode had a reliable network, 40Gbps In and 1Gbps out. $80/mo for 192GB SSD VPS.

Second design change to

Close to the original look of Taken November 16th, 2015.

Approaching December, we got ourselves a new dedicated server. And to make things fresh, I made a change to Mixtape to be more mobile friendly, responsive, and cleaner. More space to drag and drop.

We also hit 200 Gigabytes of files and 60,000 files total. We needed the new server for space and other sites we were managing in a consolidation attempt.

New dedicated server!

New dedicated server!

  • Dual Intel Xeon E5-2630v3 (2 CPUs, 16 physical cores, 32 logical threads)
  • 128GB DDR4
  • 17 x 128GB SSD slices in 2 different configurations
    • 9 are in RAIDZ with ZFS de-duplication and compression enabled
    • 8 are in RAID 5 with EXT4
She gets used

She gets work done

Thanks to donations, we were able to expand here and survive. And apparently thrive. Thank you, to all who donated to us.

Third Design change of

Third Design change of

We hit 20 Terabytes per Month on bandwidth usage, December 10th, 2015

mixtape last month bandwidth

December 11th, 2015. 20TB per month

Then 60 Terabytes per month.

mixtape bandwidth 60tb

April 10th, 60TB bandwidth per month

And now today’s statistics look like this as of this post:

  • 130TB of bandwidth transferred per month
  • 3,000,000 unique visitors per month
  • 1.23TB of files uploaded
  • 330,000 files uploaded
  • 50,000 files uploaded per month
  • Average of 1,500 – 3,000 uploads per day
  • 65 – 120 uploads per hour
  • Alexa ranking: top 55,000 globally, top 18,000 in the United States
  • Traffic:
    • 65% – Webm + MP4
    • 12% – GIF
    • 10% – JPG + PNG
    • 13% – Other file types
130TB oer month

130TB per month


Mixtape 3 million visitors

Mixtape 3 million visitors


Alexa ranking, 55,661 on June 10th, 2016

Alexa ranking – 55,661 on June 10th, 2016


No kidding


Mixtape on June 10th, 2016

Mixtape on June 10th, 2016

It’s not even the 1st Anniversary of and we’re hitting new growth issues we didn’t expect to hit for another year at least. We didn’t anticipate such a surge in usage. We don’t even have any new features. We’re still very rudimentary in how our site functions.

Rule of Acquisition #95: Expand or Die

Splitting this next part about Mixtape’s future into two parts: Hardware and Software

Our new dedicated server has enough processor power and memory to handle Mixtape. But Mixtape has different resource needs. It needs:

  • A TON of bandwidth
  • A TON of storage
  • Fast storage access
  • A minimum of 1Gbps Up and Down links

We’ve already maxed out our new server on bandwidth and storage use. We’re not in an immediate danger as we have another server to cruise on until we get new resources. But we’re not a wealthy group. We’re meticulously budgeting our next move. We’re not replacing this dedicated server, we want to add on to it. We’re looking to purchase ourselves a 4U rack mount server to put into a data center via colocation hosting. It’s more upfront cost but it’s a more sustainable monthly cost for us to handle. It will pay for itself within a few months in action.

We want to get a very large storage node going to store our Mixtape files in. Talking up to 8 to 24 drives in RAID. 48TB – 96TB with 3.5″ HDDs or 8TB – 24TB with 2.5″ SSDs. We’re bias to the 2.5″ slots to fit more slots and use SSDs. We’ve been very happy with how SSDs have been working out for us. The speed and seek times are great and very useful for malware scans, mass modifying of files, and getting meta data information on files fast. But we’ll take what we can find and can afford. I’ve very excited about expanding. Kind of giddy to get working on another server.

Let’s talk software changes.

We’re going to be making a wide variety of changes to Mixtape. Our #1 priority of Mixtape is to NOT change how it works for public uploads.

  • Mixtape’s public uploads will always be free
  • Up to 100MB uploads
  • Not require an account
  • Will allow direct raw file access

With that said, we’re going to expand on the functionality of Mixtape.

We’re planning on adding file preview/view pages for media. This allows social media sites to be able to grab metadata and meta media to show preview cards and media files on posts. For example the following tweet below contains a link to a Youtube video. We want to have Webm and MP4 video files embed just like this and also allow embedding of GIF, JPG, and PNG image files as well when linked.

On top of post preview cards, it allows people to upload Webm files that have the option of looping, amongst other possible options.

Part of the premise of “Expand or Die” is that Mixtape needs to become more self-sufficient. We rely on donations ENTIRELY. Donations are not guaranteed and at some point we won’t be able to make up the costs of a large network of servers with just donations. So we’re working on Sapphire Accounts.

A Sapphire Account will be tied to multiple services provided by Sapphire. The first and most major will be Mixtape. Mixtape’s premium accounts will feature more account options, much greater upload sizes per file, and a large pool of storage attached to your account. Accounts will have a free tier that add the functionality to keep track of your upload history and URLs and delete them later.

We’re don’t have more detailed information to provide for now. A feature preview in a future blog post will showcase the changes and another post will go in depth on the Mixtape account upgrades.

Again, thank you to the donors who help keep us up. Every we do is for them and we hope to give back to you all with a solid service.

Also expect an unhealthy dose of Star Trek references from me.


Mike Sulsenti

Co-Founder of Sapphire, designer, and sysadmin