As we use more and more data in our everyday lives, have you ever wondered where that data is stored?

We take a look at six of the more extreme places around the globe, including a desert, an Arctic archipelago and a mountain, where just some of this data is stored.

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Arctic World Archive


Sharing a landscape with these beautiful creatures above, is the Arctic World Archive. It also counts the Global Seed Vault as its neighbour, where the world’s largest collection of seeds is stored safe from natural or man-made disasters.

Using the Seed Vault for inspiration, the Arctic World Archive is similarly designed to protect data from calamities. It is located in an abandoned mine and stores information on optical film, run by Norwegian archiving company, Piql.

So far, Brazil, Mexico and Norway are the three countries that have started storing data there, including their government documents. The weather conditions in the Arctic Circle make it ideal for ensuring the data centre does not overheat.

Project Natick


In 2015 Microsoft tested a prototype of a data centre in the ocean. Project Natick saw a data centre put inside a watertight 17,237 kg tube that was anchored half a mile of the US Pacific coast.

The container, which was 10 feet by seven feet, had equivalent computing power to 300 desktop PCs. The trial was carried out partly to make use of the deep sea as a cooling system, rather than using chiller plants to keep the centres from overheating.

On Microsoft’s website, Norm Whitaker, who heads special projects for Microsoft Research NExT, said in 2016 that “this is speculative technology, in the sense that if it turns out to be a good idea, it will instantly change the economics of this business”.

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Utah Data Centre for Cybersecurity


After former National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden’s spectacular leaks on how the US government is monitoring its citizens’ data, the US’s gigantic data centre in Utah has been getting more attention.

Created at a cost of $1.5 billion (£1.1 billion), the one million square foot site in Bluffdale houses a 100,000 square foot data centre. It is a 20 building complex, which includes water treatment facilities, chiller plants, an electric substation and a fire pump house.

Code-named Bumblehive, its website refuses to say how much data it can store, instead jokingly saying “ultimate capacity will definitely be “alottabytes”!”. Completed in 2014, you can see its location on Google Maps below or by clicking here.


Ice Cube Lab data centre

In some of the toughest conditions found on the planet, there’s a data centre. At -50 degrees Celsius, overheating from outside conditions is certainly not a problem here. In fact, they have to heat the air to cool the data centre.

Ice cube

The Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory detects the cosmos from deep within the South Pole ice, as it searches for nearly massless subatomic particles called neutrinos. The data centre has three petabytes of storage and over 1,200 computing cores, and is tethered to the observatory through optical sensors.

[Read more: Trek to the South Pole using only renewable energies]

Green Mountain data centre

Back to Norway, but this time on the west coast, for one of the greenest data centres in the world.

The Green Mountain Data Centre operates on renewable energies and leaves no carbon footprint. It’s 21,500 square metres, and being located next to a fjord means the sea can provide the necessary cooling.

Based in Stavanger, the data centre is also built into a former Nato ammunition storage so it’s certainly a secure place.

Green Mountain

Data centre in a Cold War Bunker

Pionen is another secure Scandinavian data centre. This time though, it’s protected behind a 40cm thick steel door and is 100 foot beneath Stockholm in a former Cold War Bunker.

Run by internet service provider Bahnhof, the data centre is in a place that was built to survive a hydorgen bomb.

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