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How Much Data Does Google Use?
Given its ubiquity, it's not surprising that search engine giant Google arouses a huge amount of curiosity. Equally unsurprisingly, Google likes to keep a firm lid on specific statistics concerning its business, partly to maintain an air of mystique and partly to prevent competitors gaining an edge. Nevertheless the questions remain, and one that particularly piques the interest is this: just how much data does Google process every day?

Some figures from the BigTable

Some of the most reliable figures gleaned so far concern Google's distributed storage system BigTable. They show the Google search crawler handles 850 TB of data raw from the web, while Google Analytics uses 220. Google Earth uses 70.5 TB for both its map imagery and index data, and Personalized Search uses 4 TB. Orkut uses 9TB of data and Google Base uses 2TB.

All very impressive, but sadly these figures date from 2006; since 2009 Google has been steadily replacing its infrastructure with even more efficient data handling systems.

Data? What data?

Another approach is to ask exactly what is meant by Google's data usage. Some point to Google's total bandwidth usage, which reveals the amount of data flying through its servers, while others say that the true measure of Google's data usage can be found in the size of its server farms, where data is actually stored. One 2008 study adds bandwidth usage that data originated by Google uses while crawling the web to the bandwidth used by search bots sending Google data - coming up with a total figure of 184 petabytes per month.

The size of its server farms is equally impressive, with an estimated 900,000 servers operating all day, every day to store and process information. You can see the scale of the operation by comparison: an average London data centre will have around 4,000 servers on-site, for instance.

Mysterious ways

So from all this we can see that while Google remains very successful at masking the precise amount of data that it stores and handles, it's certainly a mind-bogglingly vast amount. Not the most helpful answer, certainly, but until anyone is able to pierce Google's shroud of secrecy, it's probably the best answer we'll be getting.
Published Thursday, September 06, 2012 6:48 AM by David Marshall
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How Much Data Does Google Use? « VT News - (Author's Link) - September 6, 2012 9:49 AM
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