Snowflake ID: Generating Unique IDs for Distributed Systems

Published on

What is Snowflake ID?

Snowflake ID is a 64-bit unique identifier that consists of three parts: timestamp, worker ID, and sequence number. The timestamp is a 41-bit integer that represents the number of milliseconds since a certain epoch time.

The worker ID is a 10-bit integer that identifies the worker generating the ID, and the sequence number is a 12-bit integer that ensures uniqueness in case multiple IDs are generated within the same millisecond by the same worker.

Snowflake was developed by Twitter

The structure of a Snowflake ID can be represented in a binary format as follows:

0                                       41     51         64
| timestamp (milliseconds since epoch)  |worker| sequence  |

How Snowflake ID Works

Snowflake ID generator is a distributed system that consists of multiple workers, each responsible for generating unique IDs.

When a worker requests a new ID, it first retrieves the current timestamp, then combines it with its worker ID and a sequence number.

The sequence number ensures that if multiple IDs are generated within the same millisecond by the same worker, each ID will be unique.

If the worker generates more than one ID in the same millisecond, the sequence number is incremented to ensure that each ID is unique.

Finally if in the same millisecond, if the sequence number also reaches its max value, the generator waits for the next millisecond and then starts generating IDs again.

Use Cases and Benefits

Snowflake ID is widely used in distributed systems for generating unique IDs for various use cases, including:

  • Distributed databases
  • Message queues
  • Microservices
  • Big data systems
  • Social networks

The benefits of using Snowflake ID

  • High precision: The timestamp component of the ID provides high precision and accuracy for tracking events and transactions.
  • Scalability: The worker ID component allows for scaling the generator across multiple nodes, providing high availability and horizontal scaling.
  • Uniqueness: The combination of timestamp, worker ID, and sequence number ensures that each ID generated is unique.
  • Performance: The generator is designed to generate IDs quickly and efficiently, minimizing the overhead for generating IDs.

If you're looking for an easy-to-use Node.js package to generate Snowflake IDs in your distributed system, check out @akashrajpurohit/snowflake-id package.


In summary, Snowflake ID is a powerful tool for generating unique IDs in distributed systems. Its high precision, scalability, and uniqueness make it an ideal choice for various use cases, and its efficient design ensures optimal performance.

By using Snowflake ID, developers can ensure data consistency and scalability in their distributed systems.

Updates straight in your inbox!

A periodic update about my life, recent blog posts, TIL (Today I learned) related stuff, things I am building and more!

Share with others

Liked it?


You may also like

  • system-design

    Exploring the Differences Between HTTP/2 and HTTP/3

    As the internet continues to evolve, so does the protocol that powers it - HTTP. HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 are two of the latest versions of HTTP, both designed to improve web performance and security. In this article, we'll explore the differences between HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 and how they impact the modern web.

    2 min read
  • system-design

    Exploring HTTP/2 Server Push: An Efficient Way to Speed Up Your Web Applications

    HTTP/2 Server Push is an innovative feature of the HTTP/2 protocol that allows web developers to proactively push resources to clients before they even request them. This feature helps in reducing page loading time and enhancing the overall performance of web applications.

    3 min read
  • system-design

    WebSocket: Real-time Communication Made Easy

    Are you tired of relying on traditional HTTP requests for real-time communication in your web applications? Look no further than WebSocket! This powerful protocol allows for two-way communication between a client and server, enabling real-time data transfer without the need for constant requests and responses.

    2 min read