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Trucks rented to transfer petabytes of data

/ 02:14 PM May 18, 2017
Image: Stock Photo

Image: stock photo

If you think 10 terabytes of storage capacity in a home PC is a lot, you’d be surprised to learn that some companies produce 100 terabytes-worth of data per day. With so much data to move around, the internet just isn’t going to cut it.

For situations like these, companies like DigitalGlobe make use of solutions like Amazon’s “Snowball” data transfer device to ship data by truck on regular roadways, reports Gizmodo.

Amazon Snowball. Image: Amazon

Amazon Snowball. Image: Amazon

DigitalGlobe sells highly detailed satellite imagery to various clients, from journalists to oil companies. They have been taking photos of the planet for 17 years.


The Amazon Snowball is a large, desktop tower-sized hard drive that can carry 80 terabytes of data. It also automatically encrypts data and can withstand a good deal of physical punishment. This mobile storage solution was further developed and grew into AWS Snowmobile which can carry up to 100 petabytes of data. It’s basically a gigantic hard drive in the shape of a 45-foot long ruggedized shipping container being pulled around by a truck.

Amazon Snowmobile. Image: Amazon

Amazon Snowmobile. Image: Amazon

Once the trucked data arrives at its destination, the data is then uploaded to data centers. Data travel time via the Snowmobile typically takes 10 days.

Data production is by no means slowing down. As more companies get into machine learning, more data will need to be moved around to feed the development of artificial intelligence. Until the internet’s information highway becomes more capable of sending extremely large amounts of data in a flash, more trucks will hit the physical roadways to serve data needs of companies. Alfred Bayle/JB


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TAGS: Amazon Snowmobile, data trucking, DigitalGlobe, petabyte, Snowball, terabyte
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