Ten years after its inception, YouTube counts billions of video views each day, and its worldwide popularity is only increasing. With so many videos now live on the site, some users may wonder if YouTube will ever run out of the 11-digit video IDs it uses to make each upload unique.
As content creator Tom Scott explains, that won’t be a problem. Scott, known as an expert on technology and other geeky topics, used his latest release to discuss video IDs and the almost-innumerable amount of 11-character combinations that can possibly be created.
As Scott explains, YouTube’s video ID system, which can be seen in any URL that leads to one of the site’s uploads, uses a 64-character language. That means, for each of the 11 spaces in one Video ID, there are 64 different characters that can be used. The options include both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and certain symbols like dashes and underscores.
With 64 options for each of the 11 spaces in a video ID, the total number of unique combinations is equal to 64 to the 11th power. That is too big of a number to even notate, but Scott does his best to put it in context. Even if YouTube’s IDs only had seven digits, he says, that would be “enough for every single human on planet earth to upload a video every minute for around 18,000 years. YouTube planned ahead.”
With that last line, Scott is implicitly comparing YouTube’s ID system to others, including some that have failed to anticipate the sheer scale of the Internet’s growth. Gizmodo’s coverage of the video, for example, made reference to IPv4 address exhaustion, which required the creation of a new type of IP address after all original IP combinations were used up. By comparison, YouTube seems rather forward-thinking, and unless a crazy number of robots start uploading YouTube videos, the exhaustion of video IDs is a virtual impossibility.