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Performance issues

Published by Oleg Gutsol · January 10th 2011

For some time now the 500px traffic has been growing on average 20% a month. Looking at the graphs a couple of months ago I projected that we will need a different hosting service in about 6-8 months. I was somewhat incorrect about it — we could survive on the current server for maybe 2-4 months, but with a pretty degraded performance. In fact, performance is already degraded — I watched the application logs and there are quite a number of requests that take over 1 second. Not good.

We officially ran out of CPU this time. See that pale green area fading on the right? That’s idle CPU, which we don’t have now. Most of the resources are consumed by the database and converter, which processes photo uploads. Memory is also running out, here is another memory usage graph:

We started the migration to Amazon EC2 last week. We migrated the photo storage for 500px on Amazon S3 in the summer of 2010, over the weekend I also migrated all user avatars to S3. We setup three separate instances for the application, uploader/converter and the database. We are mostly ready to flip the switch, waiting for Amazon to setup reverse DNS for our new IPs, so that our notification email get delivered to the users and not marked as spam. Please bear with us for the moment — we know the slow site sucks and we are working hard to get rid of the suck.

The Launch of Awesomeness & A Story on How to Build a Sustainable Company

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · November 14th 2010

Just 2 days ago we have launched our new account, called "Awesome". It is a premium account which costs only $5 per month, but gives you a truly unlimited access to the world of creativity.

Here's why we did it.

We are a small company that has a wish to provide an outstanding service at unbeatable prices. That's why we have given what we, as photographers, would value ourselves — great looking portfolios for a price of just one venti latte. We want to create a sustainable company and looking to do that by empowering our users to be awesome.

What do you get in "awesome" flavor?

A lot. First of, we capped our basic accounts at 20 photo uploads per week, and our awesome members get unlimited uploads. Everyone can upload their best photos, not worrying about size or how many megabytes it weighs.

Second, you get portfolios. It is our newest and very cool feature that allows to create great looking portfolios in seconds. If you are awesome — you get access to growing pool of elegant layouts, unlimited collections (i.e. folders), and unlimited uploads & photos.

We also provide the ability to link your domain with portfolios, so you can have a professional presentation of your work. If you like total control, you can also remove 500px footer, so that it feels custom-made.

Some other fun things you get are the full-size RSS feed, our support, and freedom from ads. Oh, and everyone gets SEO-optimized portfolio which, by the way, looks great on the iPhone or iPad. Just sayin'.

There are a lot of little presents that awaits our customers during this holiday season, so don't hesitate, become awesome now and support us.

PS: Our team is now made up of 4 members, which are raving about photography. We hope you enjoy our services and will consider upgrading. Building a sustainable company starts with small steps. We believe that we have build an exceptional service at a very low price, because we want to make our portfolios accessible to every photographer, from amateurs to professionals. Try it today, and we hope you'll love it for life.

The Amazing Way to Showcase your Photos

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · November 1st 2010

The Story

We started the new just over a year go, on the eve of Halloween night. A year has passed, and we have changed few designs, added tons of features, and changed the way you showcase your photos. Now, when we are celebrating the achievement of a major milestone — 500,000 unique visitors per month (and more than 20,000 amazing users), we would like to introduce the new way to present your photos.

Present Time

Fast forward today, and on the anniversary we have launched the Portfolios. Portfolios are the best way to show your photos. This is our major product, and we are proud of what we have accomplished. Portfolios are be available free, but all the best bits are coming with our premium accounts, appropriately called "Awesome". You'll love it. First what you'll experience is gorgeous designs. Check out for example my portfolio.

But there's more: First of all, we support custom domains. Meaning that you'll be able to map your domain name, e.g., to your portfolio. It's a very easy and quick process.

All the portfolios look and feel great on an Apple iPhone, iPod or iPad. It is built with 0% Adobe Flash, so you'll be able to show them on any mobile device with elegance. No more excuses not to show your portfolio to clients! We have optimized all portfolios for best SEO, or search engine optimization. Your portfolio will be indexed by all search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo!, so you will get more business.

Of course, if you are an awesome client, there'll be no ads. And if you want to go completely stealth, you'll have a chance to remove a small 500px logo from your portfolio as well.

There's a lot more features — including customized pages for pricing information or anything else you want to share with your clients, full-size image RSS, and Google Analytics for tracking down every single click. And if you are having problems, the support is at your convenience — just email as at, and we'll try to solve your problem quickly.

Behind the Scenes

Now you know what your clients will see. What about the other side? We have build the best portfolio management tools that you have ever used. You can create collections — rename them, change URL's, change their order. There's no limit on number of photos or number of collections — your creativity is the key. With collections, you can select any photos that you have already uploaded, or upload directly to that collection. There's no limits. And you can drag and drop photos, move or remove them with a simple gesture. Feel free to write about yourself — there's a perfect place for your famed biography. Choose to show your email, phone or contact information. Or go completely "Banksy"-stealth and leave only a feedback form (or not).

Get Started

Portfolios are available now for everyone, and it is very easy to get started — click on Portfolio link in the menu bar on the top right. Create your first collection. Click on the name of your collection to add photos to that collection. Choose layout, write about yourself, and choose what information to display. When you are done, click "View Portfolio" on the right to see how it looks like. Piece of cake! Mmm, cake!

The Best Part

What's the cost? Just an extra-hot-extra-foam-triple-shot-venti-vanilla-latte per month. You'll love it!

Updated Feedburner

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · October 27th 2010

We are fans of Feedburner. First of all, it saves our traffic & precious server cycles. Second, it allows us instantly to see the results of our efforts to promote our RSS (and they've been great). But we always felt that Feedburner was a "child left behind" in Google. The interface hasn't been updated in a while, and service felt forgotten.

Apparently, folks at Google felt the same way, and just recently they introduced new Feedburner, completed with real-time stats and all-you-can-eat data information. Fantastic update!

So now we have much more detailed information on our feeds. And by the way, we have over 10,000 subscribers, including to this blog. Thanks to everyone who has tuned in to listen to our updates. Soon we'll have a major announcement with regards to our portfolio services. Stay tuned! :)

Introducing Portfolios: Perfect way to showcase your talent

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · October 20th 2010

You might wonder what's been keeping us busy in the recent weeks. That's a good question, and we got an exciting answer for you — Portfolios. During the last week we introduced a beta-version of Portfolios — a new way to showcase your photos on 500px.

While you can create an account on 500px, follow photographers and upload your photos (which are voted and showed using magic formulas), now you can create an awesome portfolio with photo collections. There's not a thing to distract your viewers from photographs. Clean, simple, and it works perfectly on an iPhone or iPad.

Of course, there's more to come soon, including awesome layouts, customizations and features. For now, check out portfolios of our team for a glimpse — Ian Sobolev & Oleg Gutsol.

PS: The links to portfolios have been deliberately hidden during beta. You can get to portfolio management by clicking this link:, or in Settings. Good luck!

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