How much Google servers are and how to compare than a normal PC?

Credit: Benny Silver·

Have Google watchers been overestimating the number of servers in the company’s data center network? Recent guesstimates have placed Google’s server count at more than 1 million. But new data on Google’s energy use suggests that the company is probably running about 900,000 servers.

A Google admin works on a server inside a container in one of Google’s early data centers. (Source: Google).

Have Google watchers been overestimating the number of servers in the company’s data center network? Recent guesstimates have placed Google’s server count at more than 1 million. But new data on Google’s energy use suggests that the company is probably running about 900,000 servers.

Google never says how many servers are running in its data centers. The new estimate is based on information the company shared with Stanford professor Jonathan Koomey, who has just released an update report on data center energy usage.

Google’s David Jacobowitz, a p rogram manager on the Green Energy team, told Koomey that the electricity used by the company’s data centers was less than 1% of 198.8 billion kWh – the estimated total global data center energy usage for 2010. That means that Google may be running its entire global data center network in an energy footprint of roughly 220 megawatts of power.

“Google’s data center electricity use is about 0.01% of total worldwide electricity use and less than 1 percent of global data center electricity use in 2010,” Koomey writes, while cautioning that his numbers represent educated guesses extrapolated from the company’s information. “This result is in part a function of the higher infrastructure efficiency of Google’s facilities compared to in-house data centers, which is consistent with efficiencies of other cloud computing installations, but it also reflects lower electricity use per server for Google’s highly optimized servers.”

Low-Power Servers, High Efficiency Data Centers

Google’s data centers are designed to take advantage of industry best practices in design and operations. The company has been a pioneer in running warmer facilities and designing chiller-less data centers that use less energy. At the server level, Google’s custom servers feature a power supply that integrates a battery, allowing it to function as an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). The design shifts the UPS and battery backup functions from the data center into the server cabinet.

Google is preparing to manage much larger fleets of servers in the future. The company has designed a new storage and computation system called Spanner, which will seek to automate management of Google services across multiple data centers. That includes automated allocation of resources across “entire fleets of machines” – ranging from 1million to ten million machines

In addition to not disclosing server counts, Google also doesn’t release data on the electricity it uses or provisions for its data centers. Local reports have suggested that Google arranges power capacity of 50 megawatts and beyond for some of its largest data centers. If the company is actually running its infrastructure using just 220 megawatts of power, that would suggest that Google is provisioning power for significant future expansion at these sites.

Cloud vs local Server – Where should you store your data?

As scientists, data is the most precious tool that we have in our research. Good data allows us to advance in our careers and bad data can quickly put an end to it. In a time, where topics like data integrity, data quality, and data open access are becoming more and more popular, we write this article to assure that you can make the correct decision when it comes to storing your scientific data.

Everyone often talks about data integrity, management, and protection, but what about where to put the data itself? Well, here we can give you some insight into the pros and cons of using a cloud vs local server to store your scientific data.

Cloud vs local servers – where should you store your data?

  • Cloud and local servers
  • Cloud pros & cons
  • Local server pros & cons
  • At labfolder

Cloud and local servers?

The constant digitization of the laboratory ecosystem translates into a tremendous increase in data generation at a digital level. This data, whether it is raw data or in your lab notebook, needs to be securely stored somewhere and two options are available: Cloud or local Servers.

A cloud is a type of a server, which is remote (usually in Data Centers), meaning you access it via the internet. You are renting the server space, rather than owning the server. A local (regular) server is one that you do buy and own physically, as well as have on site with you.

Cloud pros and cons

You are already using several cloud-based tools including email providers (Gmail, Outlook, etc…), storage/backup software (iCloud, Dropbox, Box, etc…) and all social media platforms that you might have an account in.Pros

  • Maintenance & upgrades
  • Easy adjustment of storage space
  • Data stored remotely
  • Accessible wherever there is internet access

The first pro of using a cloud is that the cloud provider handles all of the maintenance and upgrades. This means you have one less thing to worry about. It is also easy to up or downscale the amount of space in the cloud. So, you are just paying for the amount you need.

The data is also stored remotely and never stored on your computer, meaning it is not occupying space unnecessarily. If there are technical issues on site, your data will be safe in the cloud. A final pro is that you can access the data stored in the cloud from wherever there is an internet connection.


  • Cannot access data without the internet
  • Transferring data out of the cloud

On the other side of the accessing via the internet, a con can be that if your internet connection is not very strong you could have trouble accessing the data. However, with some software, you are still able to access the data offline. But you will either be unable to edit the data offline or you can edit it and then it will sync later. You will also need to check how easy it would be to transfer the data elsewhere should you stop using the cloud.

Local Server pros and cons

In your research group, department or institute you might already have a local server available. Instead of storing your microscope data in the microscope computer, you are transferring it to another storage device, so that you can access it from other computers and also assure that the microscope computer does not get filled with data in 1 day.


  • Up/download speed
  • System set-up control
  • Security

The first pro of using a local server is the speed. The speed refers to that with which you can up/download data to the server. You also have total control the system setup, to make sure it fits your exact needs.

The control also extends to your backups, and everything else to do with the data since you own the server completely. It may also feel more secure to have a local server, onsite, since only you and your team can physically, and of course digitally, access it.


  • Installation of expensive hardware
  • Will need maintenance

The main con of installing a local server is needing to install it and then maintain it. Sometimes the hardware can be costly and if problems arise, you will need to do the troubleshooting. However, this would, of course, be where the IT team would come to save the day!

At labfolder

Here at labfolder, we have both the option to use a cloud or locally installed server. First, with both the cloud and local server, we use state of the art web security technology to protect your data.


  • 300GB storage space
  • Encrypted communication
  • Regular backups
  • Two storage locations

Specifically for the cloud, you will have 300GB of storage space per person on your team. Communication is encrypted between your device and the labfolder cloud. Nightly backups are made of your data, which is stored in two locations, one of which is non-disclosed. This redundant storage and backups help to ensure your data is safe.


  • Unlimited space
  • Data and communication protection
  • Remote updates

The servers can have unlimited space. labfolder brings the strictest international data protection laws to your side. The server-client communication is of military-grade AES-256 encryption standard. In order to run labfolder on your servers, we can provide you with a local solution that can even be updated remotely.