Google’s been … Thunderstruck!

Think your data’s completely safe because it’s in the hands of Google, Amazon or other storage giants? Think again. 

We’ve been told lightning never strikes the same place twice. But what they don’t tell you is it may strike the same place four times, apparently.

A Google data center in Europe suffered permanent data loss when the power grid to the building was hit with four consecutive lightning strikes. That resulted in:

“a brief loss of power to storage systems which host disk capacity for GCE instances in the europe-west1-b zone. Although automatic auxiliary systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain … in a very few cases, recent writes were unrecoverable, leading to permanent data loss on the Persistent Disk.”

Still fairly unlikely

The amount of data that was permanently lost is almost ridiculously small – .000001% of the space allotted to permanent disks.

That said, with a company as large as Google, even fractions of a percent of data can be relatively sizable. Not to mention, if it was your data that was lost, chances are you’re not going to care that 99.999999% of customers were unaffected.

The big lesson to take away here: Google, Amazon, Microsoft or any other cloud provider isn’t impervious to attacks, mistakes or repeated lightning strikes.

What companies need to determine for themselves is whether those one-in-a-million, off-chances of data loss are less scary than multiple redundant backups. For some, the risks are small enough. Others may want to re-evaluate the idea of putting all their eggs in one basket.

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