Where do your selfies live?

I remember the days when the internet felt like a small shopping centre with a handful of a shops, and if you didn’t find what you were looking for fairly quickly, the small population of websites meant you would just give up. Fast forward to today and the internet has just exceeded a total of 1 billion websites! When you think back to the year 1995 and the 23,000 websites that inhabited the internet, we’ve really come a long way – but where do all these sites live? Server farms.

A server farm (or server cluster) is a group of computers working together to accomplish server needs far greater than the capability of just one machine. They are typically located in the colder areas of the world for reduced power consumption. Since they’re built to run 24/7, a large data center has the capacity to use as much electricity as a small town in the US. Therefore colder climates help to keep servers cool which in turn means greener and leaner performance.


With a total of 12 data centers (6 of which are in North America alone), Google has more than 900,000 servers in all its data servers around the world. When you think deep about all the websites Google indexes, statistics show it equates to approximately 50 billion pages! To put that into perspective, if each webpage were an A4 piece of paper and you were to stack them, it would be more than 1 kilometre in height – insane!

Each of the server racks have four switches, connected by a different coloured cable. These colors are consistent throughout our data center to determine which need replacing in case of failure.
Source: Google

These colorful pipes send and receive water for cooling the server farms. The G-Bike pictured is the vehicle of choice for team members to get around outside the data centers. 
Source: Google


Just behind Google as the second most-visited site on the internet, Facebook has several server farms all over the world to meet the great number of posts, comments, likes and selfies taken every second. According to Facebook, its users like six billion things per day, and have shared 400 billion photos in total—and all that activity adds up to a whole lot of data. In 2012, Facebook reported that its users took up around 7 petabytes of photo storage from one of its data centers every month.

One of Facebook's server farms in Luleå, Sweden.
Source: Gizmodo

Server racks at the server farm in Luleå, Sweden.
Source: Gizmodo

So next time you’re out, enjoying life, arm up at 45 degrees, phone in hand, positioned and ready for that best angle, think, just think about the distance that selfie is going travel, and how much energy it’ll hog :-P