Home Science & Tech How Much Energy Do Data Centers Use To Operate Internet

How Much Energy Do Data Centers Use To Operate Internet

How Much Energy Do Data Centers Use: In ancient times, just sending a message was a problem. He had to hire someone to take him. That person had to travel great distances, avoiding all kinds of dangers and difficulties, until reaching the destination.

Nowadays, things have been greatly simplified. With a PC, tablet, smartphone or even a video game console, we can send not one, but several messages in a matter of a few minutes. And those messages will reach the recipient almost instantaneously.

We use the Internet for many things: information search, communication ( email, chats, video conferences), banking transactions, electronic commerce, online education, etc.

But if we consider energy expenditure, the Internet uses a lot of electricity. To estimate energy consumption, we must take into account the billions of devices that make up the network of networks.

How Much Energy Do Data Centers Use

These teams are located in places called data centers or data centers.

Data Centers

The data centers or data centers are sets of equipment necessary for processing information. Not all data centers are necessarily connected to the Internet since they can be the internal system of an organization or company. But speaking of the Internet, it is based on massive data centers that contain hundreds of thousands of servers.

A few years ago, companies often maintained their own data centers (large or small). However, many companies now rely on services in the cloud. This means that they use third-party physical devices, in which the company’s data and services reside. We have access to company information, to a large extent, thanks to the Internet. Services cloud have data centers really huge, with many machines stored in large buildings.

Data Centers

In the cloud, a customer’s data is backed up on several machines. The reason is to offer redundancy: if a computer fails for some reason, the client’s data remains intact, since there is a copy on another machine. The disadvantage of this system is that each additional equipment also requires energy to operate.

Computers also generate heat. If the electronic components get too hot, they may malfunction. To keep the machines working at a safe temperature, the owners of data centers must invest in cooling systems. The most common system is air conditioning. These energy costs must also be added to keep the Internet running.


Obtaining an exact count of the data centers is not possible. Many companies keep information about their data centers private. It is also impossible to know for sure the amount of energy that each data center requires without knowing all the details. However, that has not stopped people from trying to estimate the power consumption of the Internet.

Data Centers

Barath Raghavan of the University of California, Berkeley and, and Justin Ma of the International Computer Science Institute, was given the task of estimating the amount of electricity required for operation Internet. They decided to also take into account the energy used to create the Internet. This includes the manufacture of computers, network connections, cell phone towers, and other equipment.

Raghavan and Ma relied on general estimates for their work and acknowledged in their report that the result was not accurate. Its aim was to draw attention to the issue and encourage others to think about the issue in greater depth. Their estimates indicate that by that time they had:

– 750 million desktop computers
– 750 million laptops
– 50 million high-performance servers
– 100 million PCs used as servers
– 1,000 million smartphones

And to that, they also added estimates regarding other network equipment such as routershubs, switches, modemsaccess points, cabling, etc.

In the study, they weigh each category of the device according to the energy needs they have. They also took into account the average life cycle of each piece of infrastructure.

The Results

In the end, Raghavan and Ma estimated that the Internet uses between 170 and 307 gigawatts annually. That’s a huge amount, but it accounts for just under two percent of the world’s energy consumption.

They point out in their report that the Internet’s energy consumption is a fraction of the transportation industry, which accounts for 61 percent of all oil production. The two researchers suggest that because the Internet uses less energy and produces less environmental impact than transportation, moving more tasks to the Internet makes sense. Using teleconferencing, instead of traveling to meetings, could save some energy.

Data Centers

The amount of energy the Internet uses is a complex issue. Although the study was done in 2011, and the figures may have increased, surely the Internet is still a convenient resource in that regard. Without it, we would have to resort to other methods to communicate and access the data. These methods may, in turn, require more energy and cause more pollution.

According to a study by Northwestern University (USA), only these centers are responsible for 3% of the energy consumed in the entire planet. Keep this in mind the next time you want to send the animated GIF of some kittens.

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