Over a relatively short period, Google has gone from a simple search engine to an internet giant offering a vast portfolio of products and services. As well as their flagship search engine they offer email, a smartphone/tablet operating system, cloud storage and business marketing tools to name just a few.
Even more than most businesses, they hold a lot of client and customer data. Some of this relates directly to their vast array of products and services , and some is used to help make their marketing efforts or search results more targeted. But where exactly is this vast store of information kept?
What Data Does Google Collect?
Before answering this question, it is worth looking at exactly what data Google collects from you and stores. This will depend heavily on which of the company’s products and services you use.
Let us suppose Robert has a personal Gmail account, uses Google Drive for file storage, and has an Android smartphone. He is setting up a website for his shop in Newport. He turns to a local firm offering web design in Newport such as netcentrics.co.uk to create the website, and signs up for Google Adwords to promote it online. He also signs up for Google Analytics to help him assess his site’s performance.
This is about as much data as anyone could ever give to Google. The company will store all the data associated with his Gmail account and app downloads as well as the files store in Google Drive. It will also hold all the data relating to his pay-per-click adverts, collect the information on his website it uses to assess search rankings, and all of the statistics about page views that can be seen through Google Analytics.
By contrast, Susan has a non-Android smartphone, does not own any website, and does not use Gmail or have any other Google account. It is unlikely that Google collects anything more than anonymous search data from her. But then, even that has to be stored somewhere.
So Where is it Stored?
The answer is, all around the world. Google has many data centres, each capable of storing a vast amount of information.Your data is likely to be stored in a number of places for security reasons. That way, if some sort of disaster hits one data centre that contains your important information, it will be safely backed up in other locations many miles away.
More than half of Google’s data centres are located in the Americas, with most of these in its home country of the USA. Six data centres are spread across the United States from Oregon in the West to South Carolina in the East. The American Continent also has a seventh data centre, in the South American nation of Chile.
A further four data centres are spread around Europe; in Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands and Finland. Finally, Asia is home to two more of Google’s data centres. One of these is in Singapore and the other in Taiwan. In short, your data is likely to be stored globally across three continents.