Inside Facebook's massive Oregon data center

In a town in rural Oregon, Facebook is expanding its already-massive data center to serve up your ever-growing collection of likes and photos.

James Martin
James Martin is the Managing Editor of Photography at CNET. His photos capture technology's impact on society - from the widening wealth gap in San Francisco, to the European refugee crisis and Rwanda's efforts to improve health care. From the technology pioneers of Google and Facebook, photographing Apple's Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai, to the most groundbreaking launches at Apple and NASA, his is a dream job for any documentary photography and journalist with a love for technology. Exhibited widely, syndicated and reprinted thousands of times over the years, James follows the people and places behind the technology changing our world, bringing their stories and ideas to life.
Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
James Martin
Ian Sherr
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Visiting Facebook's first data center

At first blush, Facebook's data centers are just rows of blue and green servers.

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So many servers

These servers were designed by Facebook, which said it focused on making them easy to cool and even easier to repair.

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Seeing blue

The data centers have lots of blue lights. Yes, Facebook's corporate color is blue, but it also just so happens that blue lights cost a half-cent less than other colors.

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Lots of cables to carry all your likes

Aside from servers, there are also masses of data cables that carry some of Facebook's traffic through the facility.

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Facebook's first data center

The data center here in Prineville, Oregon, was Facebook's first when it opened in 2011. The company has built five more since in Sweden, Ireland, Iowa, Texas and North Carolina.

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More power for artifical intelligence research

Facebook designed a special computer for artificial intelligence research called "Big Sur."

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Mobile Device Lab

Facebook has collected about 2,000 phones in its data center for testing its apps. Many of these phones are old by first-world standards, but they're what many people in the world can barely afford.

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Android testing at Facebook

Developers also use these phones in an effort to spot dips in an app's performance.

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iPhone testing at Facebook

Various versions and iterations of iPhones undergo testing at the Prineville facility.

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Cold storage

The company has an 110,000 square-foot building -- called Building 4 -- that's designated as "cold storage." The servers here store older, less-used content in low-power servers, retrieving and transmitting your birthday photos and anniversary videos only when Facebook sees you digging back further into your archives.

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Massive buildings

All your data requires a lot of storage, and that means big buildings. The data centers on the grounds here in Prineville cover close to 800,000 square feet.

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Backup power on site

Though Facebook wouldn't say how much energy the facility needs, it has about 84 megawatts worth of backup power on site. Here are some of the generators.

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A big fan for Facebook

Here is one of the huge fans that helps to expel the heat generated by the data center servers.

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Some of Facebook's biggest fans

Giant fans spin hot air out of a long corridor dedicated to cooling the data center.

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Facebook has a lot of fans

A bank of fans pulls cooled air into another portion of the tiered forced-air cooling system.

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From outside air to server cooling

Heated air emitted from the data center servers naturally rises up through the slatted vents on the right side of this image, where it is mixed with cooler outside air and pulled across the long hallway and through the filters before entering a second stage of cooling.

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Keeping the air clean

A closeup view of one of the filters in a bank of filters that makes up a wall of the data center cooling.

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So many servers

Fans hum through the massive building -- ah, the sounds of data transfer.

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Outside Building 1

This is the entrance to Building 1, Facebook's first data center building in its first data center.

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