A series of lightning strikes have caused a Google data centre to lose a tiny fraction of customer data, the company has admitted.
Google confirmed that “four successive lightning strikes” on 13 August hit the grid of the local utilities system that powers the firm's European data centre, known as Europe-West1 in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium (pictured below).
This caused a brief power loss to storage systems, meaning that some data was not backed up during the outage.
“In almost all cases the data was successfully committed to stable storage, although manual intervention was required in order to restore the systems to their normal serving state,” Google said on its status page.
“However, in a very few cases, recent writes were unrecoverable, leading to permanent data loss on the persistent disk.”
Google confirmed that this was “less than 0.000001 percent of persistent disk space” in the data centre.
The amount of data lost is a tiny fraction of the overall total, but the incident could have huge ramifications for those affected, especially if the data needed to be retained for legal or customer service purposes.
Google said that, while the incident was “wholly its responsibility”, customers who fear such an incident may wish to move their data to another storage zone, where Google has more backup facilities.
“Google Compute Engine [GCE] instances and persistent disks in a zone exist in a single Google data centre and are therefore unavoidably vulnerable to data centre-scale disasters,” the company said.
“Customers who need maximum availability should be prepared to switch their operations to another GCE zone. For maximum durability we recommend GCE snapshots and Google Cloud Storage as resilient, geographically replicated repositories for your data.”
Of course, this too may cause problems as some companies may not wish to store data outside the European Union to ensure that it remains under local legal jurisdictions.
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