Several recent conversations and emails have started: “I made a change on LinkedIn and don’t see it…”

It seems to be happening quite a bit – you’ve connected with an old friend, but then LinkedIn isn’t showing that you are connected. Just what’s going on?

Let’s have a look.

Lots of data and users

This is the root of what’s going on.

With 100 million accounts and a hefty number of people using the site, LinkedIn has a whole lot of activity.

And continuing to provide all of those users prompt response times is tough to do.

Clone yourself

Wouldn’t you like to have an identical copy of yourself when things get really busy? You could go to the grocery store and work on the proposal at the same time!

Well that’s what companies do when things get big. There isn’t just one computer or database taking care of everything in the back office.

Facebook is big

I wasn’t able to find data about LinkedIn’s operations, but Facebook talked about its technology in 2008 – indicating that they had 1800 database servers. And while there are more Facebook users now (500 million), it gives you a sense of the scale involved.

If LinkedIn has 100 million users, it’s reasonable to think that they could have over 300 database servers.

Syncing up the data

And all those database servers want to be looking at the same data, right? Except that there’s no way to manage everything through one copy of the database. Instead each may have a copy of the data, and then implement a mechanism so that everybody gets updated reasonably fast.

So if database server A takes care of your request to connect to a new user, database server Z might not get that update until later.

Everything’s fine and good if “later” is a couple minutes.

But it seems that later is turning into 30 minutes or more quite frequently now.

If you happen to…

After you’ve made a change, you might just get processed by the same server that processed it in the first place – it would have that information.

The problem is that if you happen to get a different server, it won’t know. And as LinkedIn is adding servers, the likelihood that you’ll get a different server seems to be going up.


So – the thing to do is not get bent out of shape if your recent profile update, connection approval, group item, or other change doesn’t show up immediately.

I’d suggest waiting at least 24 hours – at that point you could submit a report that something seems to have happened.

But that’s just me – you’re welcome to hop overboard earlier if you think that’ll work better;-)

To your continued success,


Steven Tylock