Where Do All Those Facebook Photos Go? | Science | Smithsonian
Facebook is building its first European data storage facility—60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden. (Scanpix, Sweco, The Node Pole / Ap Images)

Where Do All Those Facebook Photos Go?

On the outer boundaries of the Arctic Circle lies a massive construction project funded by Facebook: the future home of thousands of server farms

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With 900 million members worldwide and growing, Facebook is building its first European data storage facility—60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden. The reason: natural air conditioning. Some Internet “server farms” spend as much to cool the machines as power them. Facebook’s Nordic operation—which will eventually expand to three 290,000- square-foot buildings, each housing tens of thousands of servers—will save millions of dollars on electricity. Plus, the buildings are designed to capture some heat from the servers and use it to warm employee offices. The estimated cost of building the facilities is more than $700 million. Sweden hopes that construction subsidies and other incentives, including the promise of clean hydropower, will attract more digital companies to a region now being marketed as the “Node Pole.”

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