What Exactly Does the Cloud Look Like?

Most Internet users know the cloud as a place where files are stored digitally instead of on a physical device, like a computer’s hard drive, but what exactly does it look like? Despite the nickname, the cloud is not a mass in the sky. Cloud computing providers have large server rooms (or “farms”), like the one above, which hold your data so you don’t have to.

From the outside, the farms are not that exciting architecturally, but the interiors are mazes of incredible amounts of data. Like massive libraries that stock electronics instead of books, these farms contain row after row of blinking server racks with cables connecting them, as seen in the video above from CNN Money. Those racks are flanked by cooling systems because servers run hot, especially when there are thousands of them in an enclosed space.

The data centers used by some of the biggest companies—Facebook, Google, and Apple—are scattered across the world. One of Facebook's farms sits atop a hill in the small town of Prineville, Oregon and spans 147,000 square feet. Apple has a 200-acre data center located in North Carolina, where the company also built the nation's largest privately owned solar farm to run it (data centers use an estimated two percent of the country's electricity).

Curious about where Google Cloud lives? Check out the company's website, which shows exactly where its data centers are located—including St. Ghislain, Belgium; Changhua County, Taiwan; and Council Bluffs, Iowa—and how they are used.

According to CNN Money, 320 million people use iCloud—the cloud computing service launched by Apple in 2011—and over 400 billion Facebook photos are housed in cloud storage, with an additional 350 million added every day. To keep up with the growing demand, more companies are investing heavily in the cloud and server farms are getting larger. In fact, some predict that by 2020, the cloud will be a $191 billion market (up from the $100 billion the industry is currently worth, according to CNN Money.)

While there is nothing fluffy about the hardware that makes the cloud possible, it does owe its name to the sun-blockers above. The term “the cloud” is believed to stem from a patent filed in 1994 for a “network having secure fast packet switching and guaranteed quality of service,” in which the authors included a diagram of the system with a bubble around the “network.” As the patents evolved, the crude bubble shape became more like cloud-like, and according to Technology Review, “cloud computing” was first used in a 1996 business plan for the Compaq computer company. Check out the video from CNN Money for more about what the cloud looks like.

[h/t: CNN Money]

Header image via iStock.

Afternoon Map
The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit

Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site

[h/t Thrillist]


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