Where are all the data on the Internet stored?

Where are all the data on the Internet stored?

The rate of growth of data poses a challenge in terms of storage and space because, although we sometimes think that they are intangible, all that information that surrounds us is stored in massive physical places.

We live immersed in the age of data, and these surround us wherever we imagine. Today almost all our actions generate a vast amount of data: hours and hours of streaming, emails, web browsing, as well as what is landing like 5G or the internet of things that will further multiply this amount. Given this, it is inevitable to ask: where is this data stored? (1)

The rate of growth of data poses a challenge in terms of storage and space because, although we sometimes think that they are intangible, all that information that surrounds us is stored in massive physical places.

Keep in mind that the location of data centers is important because the less distance the data has to travel, the less latency they need. However, around the world, we can find data centers in unlikely places.

It is common for some companies to bet on locating data centers in cold or remote areas, both for reasons of energy efficiency and the need for spaces with many square meters to house their servers. However, edge computing and the need to be closer to the user to provide low latency, are leading companies in the sector to look for solutions in the vicinity of the main urban centers”.

The location of a data center is essential, and around the world, we can find them in places that we would never have imagined. Among many areas, De-cix collects five of the most peculiar:

  • Mines: If there is an indispensable aspect for data centers, that is cooling, which poses a challenge regarding the efficiency and energy consumption of these buildings. A server needs to be operational without interruptions 24 hours a day, which generates high temperatures that impair its correct operation. Given these conditions, Norway has found an effective solution to this challenge: installing the data center in an old mine. The best example of this is the Lefdal Mine Datacenter. A converted 120,000-square-meter mine is cooled by water from the Norwegian fjords, and all the energy it uses comes from renewable sources (2). In Spain, although there are still no cases like these, initiatives are being carried out to imitate this project in the mines of the Asturias area.
  • Churches: In Helsinki, Finland, the Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral housed under its foundations a World War II air-raid shelter, which over the years has changed in utility and has now become a data center. Again, it is a place where the temperature stays cold and, also, the heat they emit is absorbed and distributed by the area’s heating system, which offers enough energy for 500 homes. Another case is found in the Salem Chapel in Leeds, the UK, which in 2001 stopped offering mass and went on to become a data center.
  • Bunker: In 2008, the Bahnhof Pionenun, a data center located in a former Cold War-era nuclear bunker, opened in Sweden. It is located 30 meters underground and is guarded by a 40 cm thick steel door. In addition to this, the Interxion company is going to convert an old WWII submarine base located in Marseille into one of its data centers, taking advantage of the structure and security with which it was built.
  • Almost frozen data: One of the largest companies on the planet, such as Facebook, decided to install a data center in the Arctic Circle, in the Swedish city of Lulea. The system benefits from the low temperature of the outside air to cool the inside and thus depends to a lesser extent on additional generators.
  • Underwater: Since more than half of the world’s population lives less than 200km from the coast, the sea is an excellent place to store data. Thus Microsoft is developing a submersible data center pilot project off the coast of Scotland.

[Also Read: 5G Networks Present New Risks and Security Challenges]

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