Data Center

Definition of a Data Center

Photo of a server room located in a Facebook data center in Oregon
Servers in a Facebook Data Center (Oregon, US). © Kim Steele / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

What is a Data Center?

A data center, sometimes spelled as datacenter (one word), is the name given to a facility that contains a large number of computer servers and related equipment.

Think of a data center as a "computer room" that outgrew its walls.

What are Data Centers Used For?

Some online services are so large that they can't be run from a one or two servers. Instead, they need thousands or millions of connected computers to store and process all of the data required to make those services work.

For example, online backup companies need one or more data centers so they can house the many-thousands of hard drives they need to store their customers' combined hundreds of petabytes or more of data they need to keep stored away from their computers.

Some data centers are shared, meaning that a single physical data center might serve 2, 10, or 1,000 or more companies and their computer processing needs.

Other data centers are dedicated, meaning the entirety of the computational power in the building is being used solely for a single company.

Large companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon each need several, super-sized data centers around the world to accomplish the needs of their individual businesses.

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