Server farms

Where Google stores your data


A data centre on the Colombia River in The Dalles, Oregon, USA

A server room in a renovated paper factory in Hamina, Finland

Color-coded ethernet cables in the data centre in The Dalles, Oregon, USA

A data centre in Pryor, Oklahoma, USA

Communication with fibre optic cables is 200,000 times faster than with traditional internet cables in homes

A water treatment plant built by Google in Douglas County, Georgia, USA, to avoid using the local supply of fresh water.

Blue LED's on servers in Douglas County, Georgia, USA

Colourful pipes transport water for cooling in and out of the centre in Douglas County, Georgia, USA

Water tanks in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and ethernet switches in Berkeley County, South Carolina, USA

A power source in the form of a battery directly on the server rack improves efficiency in Douglas County, Georgia, USA

The data centre in Council Bluffs, Iowa, takes shape.

An employee checks an overheated CPU in The Dalles, Oregon, USA

If there's no movement in the room, sensors automatically turn off the main lighting supply to save power in The Dalles, Oregon, USA

The centre in Hamina, Finland uses water from the Baltic Sea to cool its servers




Best known for its internet search engine, Google is also the owner of sites such as the video specialist YouTube, which require huge numbers of data servers to keep up with consumer demand.

To store the information that drives its business, Google has set up so-called "server farms" in a range of locations. Large amounts of water are needed to cool the servers.

Google revealed in 2011 how energy was used to power its web services – 260 million watts continuously across the globe, or roughly a quarter of the output of a standard nuclear power plant – and said 25 per cent of its energy was supplied by renewable fuels.

In 2012 the New York Times published the results of an in-depth investigation it carried out into data centres. It quoted a Stanford University study which showed that data centres in the United States accounted for two per cent of all electricity used in the country in 2010. The newspaper also noted that data centres can waste 90 per cent of the electricity they pull off the grid and are seen by authorities as a source of pollution.

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