Back in January, we reported that Facebook’s over 1 billion users have uploaded a staggering 240 billion photographs. Now, news has surfaced that 82 percent of Facebook’s traffic is actually focused on just 8 percent of those photos. In other words, while Facebook is storing an incredible number of images, just a small percentage of them must be readily available.

This fact has led Facebook to experiment with something different: The Oregonian reports that the social giant is constructing a 3 exabyte (3,000 petabytes) cold storage data facility in Prineville, Oregon. It will allow Facebook to store these archived photos at 33 percent of the energy costs of traditional servers, with one caveat: the idling servers wont be able to deliver photos “as quickly as something posted just a few hours ago.”

According to Facebook, this change, which is set to launch fall 2013, will only result in a slight delay: “a matter of seconds, or milliseconds.” With 1 billion users, however, that subtle lag adds up, and Facebook surely knows slowing down users’ access to its service could be dangerous.

In nearly all cases, serving up every bit of data as quickly as possible is ideal, but Facebook is looking for a practical compromise between cost and the needs of users.

But even if cold storage proves to be a practical solution to the company’s growing data problem, it suggests something interesting; is old data valuable to Facebook? Will archiving data like this affect the level which advertisers are able to take advantage of past experiences? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Image via laughingsquid / Flickr