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Development 22 Aug 2017

Presenting the Facebook data center

In the Swedish city of Lulea there is a place that stores the photographs, videos and texts of more than 300 million people who use Facebook in Europe.

Close to the Arctic Circle, the Swedish city of Lulea is a temporarily home for the photos, videos and text we upload to Facebook. Since 2013, the data of more than 300 million European users of the social network site are stored in Sweden. As explained by this article in Le Monde, thousands of servers are clustered together in a building whose surface area is equivalent to 17 ice- hockey rinks.

The precise number of servers and their power is a secret, although it is known that everything is automated and the machines are prepared to deal with any unforeseen event. Artificial intelligence allows human presence to be reduced to a minimum: 150 people work in Facebook’s data center,  which operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

The polar cold of Lulea makes it easier to cope with the asphyxiating heat of the servers, the main problem for most data storage centers. It is no headache for Mark Zuckerberg’s company, as the polar wind means the temperature inside the building remains at around 20 degrees.

Another attraction for the U.S. company is that Sweden is going to abolish taxation on electricity for Big Data companies. The two factors of cold and money have led the U.S. giant to construct a second data center in the same zone, more focused on video storage.

“When you publish a photo on Facebook,” explains the director of the center Joel Kjellgren in the Le Monde article, “it is copied and stored at a number of sites for reasons of security. If the photo is shared a lot it is stored in a ‘hot’ server, cine it will continue to circulate and be shared many times. When it stops being interesting, it is stored in a ‘cold’ server.”

There are no long-term servers in Lulea. After a time, the European data are moved to the United States to be stored.

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