In all, its 2.5 petabytes of data (one petabyte is equivalent to 283,000 DVDs).
A lot of security protects that data. A guard watches cameras 24/7. Windows are bulletproof. Sensors monitor windows and doors. The Ancestry.com guy walking us around had to swipe his badge at several doors, then lay his palm in a Mission: Impossible-like handprint reader to enter the server rooms.
I cant disclose the location and photographs werent permitted (darn it, I forgot my hidden-camera lapel pin), but the folks at Ancestry.com sent these approved images:
Some rows of server-filled cabinets:
Still more servers:
(This makes me feel insecure about the jumble of cords shoved behind my TV stand.)
Theres 807,000 Kw hours of power running through the cords per monthabout the amount used by 1,076 average homes over the same time period. An elaborate air conditioning system keeps the servers from overheating.
If things do get too hot and the smoke detector sounds an alarm, all life forms have two minutes to scram before a fire-suppression chemical hisses into the room and starts to suck out the oxygen.
An automated system reroutes traffic around servers that are getting overheated or full, then alerts the techies who can replace those machines. Batteries can run the place for an hour should a power failure occur; huge generators can keep it going after that.
Regular disk backups are transferred to tape and whisked weekly to a Granite Mountain disaster-proof storage vault (near the one where FamilySearch keeps its master microfilms).
Ancestry.coms monthly hosting costs run $300,000$143,000 for the space, $112,000 for power and the rest for bandwidth. Thats part of what youre paying for in your subscription. (A larger chunk of your subscription fee goes to adding new content and upgrading current content.)