where the internet lives: behind the scenes at google's data centers
where the internet lives: behind the scenes at google's data centers where the internet lives: behind the scenes at google's data centers
oct 18, 2012

where the internet lives: behind the scenes at google's data centers

where the internet lives: behind the scenes look at google’s data centers


photographed for google’s new website, ‘where the internet lives’, images capture a never before seen behind-the-scenes glimpse into their high-tech data centers. the pictures demonstrate the complexities involved in securing and hosting data for the world’s largest search engine browser. featured are google’s eight data centers, including those in belgium, finland and the united states.



thousands of feet of pipe line the inside of the data centers, painted bright colors to designate which one is which.


these colorful pipes are responsible for carrying water in and out of the oregon data center. the blue pipes supply cold water and the red pipes return the warm water back to be cooled.


the cables are organized by their specific hue. on the floor, this can make things less technical.


each server rack has four switches, connected by a different colored cable. these colors are kept the same throughout the data center to know which one to replace in case of failure.


a rare look behind the server aisle. here, hundreds of fans funnel hot air from the server racks into a cooling unit to be recirculated. the green lights are the server status LEDs reflecting from the front of the servers.



plastic curtains hang in a network room inside the council bluffs data center. here, cold air is served through the floor, and the clear plastic barriers help keep the cold air in while keeping hot air out.



inside google’s campus network room, routers and switches allow the data centers to talk to each other. the fiber optic networks connecting their sites can run at speeds that are more than 200,000 times faster than a typical home internet connection. the fiber cables run along the yellow cable trays near the ceiling.



server floors require massive space and efficient power to run the full family of google products for the world. by choosing to renovate an old paper mill in hamina, finland to take advantage of the building’s infrastructure as well as its proximity to the gulf of finland’s cooling waters.



blue lights like these mean everything is functioning properly on the server floor.



hovering above the floor in council bluffs, iowa, the scale of google’s data center there begins to take shape. huge steel beams both support the structure and help distribute power.



a family of deer have moved in next to the council bluffs, iowa center.



data center in hamina, finland.



plumes of steam rise above our cooling towers. when you can see the water vapor – meaning humidity and temperatures are low –  the cooling towers are at their most efficient.



data center in douglas county, georgia, just outside of atlanta.



wildflowers bloom around cooling towers at the iowa data center.



water storage tanks below the cooling towers ensure they have water available whenever needed.


this massive antenna receives signals for google’s ‘access services unit’, which brings fiber optics to residential homes all over the globe.  these antennas are also the primary signal source for hundreds of TV channels that make up google fiber’s TV service.


the system of pipes composes a water filtration unit underneath a cooling tower outside the data center in lenoir, north carolina.



the pipes are equipped with highly-pressurized water in case of a fire. this water, in particular, is cleaned and filtered so if used,  doesn’t contaminate the facility.


insulated pipes like these have a U-bend so they can expand and contract as the fluid temperature inside the pipe changes.


as part of our commitment to keeping users’ data safe, google destroys all failed drives, on site.



have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

technology news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
481,383 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
privacy policy