GOOGLE DATA CENTER
LENOIR, NORTH CAROLINA, USA
ER DATA BUNK
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WHERE ARE THE BIGGEST SECRETS IN THE WORLD STORED?
Almost all of us have been here—not as a person, but rather as a data packet: The Google Data Centers are spread out around the globe. Every one of the 3.5 billion searches executed via Google each day ends up here, and nearly 500 million email accounts and more than 20 billion Web pages are also catalogued and stored on thousands of servers here. Nearly every secret that finds its way onto the Web, whether encrypted or unencrypted, is being stored here. Accordingly Google Data Centers are highly secured. One of the largest of these digital treasure troves is found in Lenoir, North Carolina. Only those with a valid ID whose name is on an authorized access list can set foot on the 495,000-square-foot grounds. Initially visitors see sprawling green spaces and a pond, but you’d do well to stay as far away from the pond as possible because there are alligators swimming around in there. Entry via the security gate in the main corridor is only granted after an additional test with a biometric iris scanner. It is only when this test is passed that one is permitted to enter the heart of Google—a gigantic hall containing 50,000 rattling servers. The complex is so large that the staff get around on bikes and scooters. The Google Data Center in Lenoir is one of the few data centers to which access has been granted to a few selected journalists. The majority of the other digital treasure troves operated by Google remain strictly sealed away. The multibillion-dollar corporation is believed to have more than a dozen data centers now in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Together these plants are responsible for up to 1.5% of global electricity consumption. Not much more is known about the clandestine facilities, however, because Google will protect its secrets at any price— even, if need be, with alligators…