Google Loses Data After Lightning Strike

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Google’s data center in Belgium lost some of its data, after lightning struck a nearby utility power grid four times. On Aug. 13, an electronic storm “caused a brief loss of power” for some of Google’s cloud storage systems. Though most of the data was recovered, some was temporarily unrecoverable, the internet firm said.

Minor data loss reported

In its report, Google informs users that its Western Europe permanent disk space lost just 0.000001% of its data. However, the company assured users that the data is not permanently lost as it is replicated across multiple servers. The affected data center supports the Google Compute Engine, a service for business customers who trust Google’s massive servers to perform high-powered computing tasks. None of the consumer services such as Gmail, YouTube or Google Drive were affected much.

Despite the claims, it seems some casualties were reported. One of the executives at a French startup told CNN Money in an email that his company’s services were down for 12 hours. The executive further informed the media outlet that Google only recovered a small portion of his company’s data, while they have to manually recover most of it. The French startup had a backup stored in another data center, which helped in the quick recovery of the data.

Google lauded by experts

Google took full responsibility for the data loss, saying it was “wholly responsible” for the outage, and asked customers to use its other services for keeping a data backup.

“Google Compute Engine instances and Persistent Disks within a zone exist in a single Google data center and are therefore unavoidably vulnerable to data center-scale disasters,” the search giant said.

Google says it is in the process of updating its systems, adding that “durability of storage” is its primary concern. The firm further informed users that it is investigating the issue and working to “maximize the reliability of GCE.”

Experts noted that Google did the right thing by replicating or storing the data in multiple data centers. One of Google’s ex-employee, Joe Beda, lauded the efforts of the internet firm, saying just a 0.000001% data loss despite the lightning strike is commendable. Beda, who also played a vital role in setting up the Compute Engine business, says apart from lightning, data centers face many more strange issues like the problem of rats nests in generators and people shooting at fiber optic cable.

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