Tag Archives: Bahnhof

Pornhub’s Owner Goes After Thousands of BitTorrent Pirates

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pornhubs-owner-targets-thousands-of-bittorrent-pirates-200226/

The online porn industry is rather diverse but there is only one company leading the charge, that’s Mindgeek.

The company, formerly known as Manwin, owns the most visited adult website on the planet, Pornhub, and is also the driving force behind YouPorn, Redtube, Tube8, Xtube, and dozens of other sites.

With Pornhub, in particular, the company has made news headlines in mainstream media. The informative yearly interest insights, April fools jokes, and even its environmental campaign have been widely covered.

The company’s open and casual image is generally well appreciated. However, Mindgeek and its many daughter companies also have another side. They tend to be very protective of their copyrights.

Mindgeek subsidiary MG Premium, for example, has more than 10,000 works registered at the US copyright office. To prevent these from being shared without permission, the company has sent over a quarter billion takedown requests to Google alone.

More recently, Pornhub’s sister company expanded its copyright enforcement efforts in another area. In addition to sending takedown notices, it also started going after people who allegedly shared its videos through BitTorrent.

This campaign was recently highlighted by Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof, which keeps a close eye on copyright trolling efforts in the Scandinavian country.

A search through public Swedish court records reveals that MG Premium obtained eight applications to identify the account holders behind 16,594 IP-addresses. The company uses this information to approach these alleged pirates with a settlement offer.

A copy of a settlement request, shown below, shows that the account holder is offered a settlement of 7,000 Swedish Krona ($722) for “filesharing of an erotic movie”. Considering the number involved, this is a potential multi-million dollar enforcement campaign.

While some may have indeed shared the infringing content, the letters also target people who are not directly involved. After all, Internet connections are often shared with other members of a household or are open to the public at large.

Bahnhof, which is one of the few ISPs that doesn’t share the personal information of its customers, sees the practice as blackmail. It believes that the company chooses this tactic to generate some extra profits.

Mindgeek, for its part, says that the Swedish legal campaign is intended to help reduce piracy. The initiative just started and the company will evaluate the results in the near future to see what steps it will take next.

“MindGeek, through its exclusive content subsidiary MG Premium, seeks to protect thousands of its copyrighted audiovisual works from blatant infringement. MG Premium is constantly testing and evaluating methods of reducing the extent to which its works are pirated,” Mindgeek’s Michael Willis says.

“At different times, these methods can result in targeting website operators, vendors supporting such operators, and in certain cases, end users who are taking advantage of, or sharing pirated works,” he adds.

The initiative in Sweden is similarly intended to help reduce piracy. It is very recent, and thus not necessarily an integrated or long term strategy. The results will be evaluated in the coming months, which will help determine the next course of action.

It is worth noting that Mindgeek’s empire is broader than adult sites alone. The company has dozens of subsidiaries, including AppAtomic, which is the driving force behind the VPN service VPNHub.

VPNHub, like many other VPN services, doesn’t keep any logs of IP-address assignments. Ironically, this means that MG Premium has no means to identify pirates who use the service. Then again, Mindgeek wins either way, as the VPN business can be quite lucrative too.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

BitTorrent ‘Copyright Troll’ Lawsuits Skyrocket In Sweden

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bittorrent-copyright-troll-lawsuits-skyrocket-in-sweden-200214/

Sweden is widely known as the birthplace of The Pirate Bay, without a doubt the most iconic torrent site on the Internet.

However, in recent years the country has also evolved into a hotbed for copyright trolls. These use the same file-sharing technology to extract monetary settlements from suspected pirates.

This ‘copyright-trolling’ phenomenon is driven by a select group of copyright holders. In court, they ask for permission to obtain the personal details of account holders, claiming that their IP-addresses are tied to infringing activity.

The law firms involved represent a variety of companies, including the makers of familiar movie and TV titles such as ‘Angel Has Fallen,’ ‘Black Sails’ and ‘Spartacus,’ but also music, and adult entertainment.

The first wave of these lawsuits in Sweden started almost four years ago but the practice has grown exponentially since. According to Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof, which has kept track of these developments, record numbers were reached last year.

During 2019, a total of 140 new applications were submitted to the Patent and Market Court. This is up from 72 during the whole of 2018, and substantially more than the 27 applications that were filed a year earlier.

Not only has the number of applications grown, but the cases also target more IP-addresses in total. In 2019, 60,368 IPs were targeted which is a 15% increase compared to 2018. Combined with the 2017 numbers, we see that more than 144,000 IP-addresses have been targeted over the past three years.

It’s worth noting that this exceeds the number of targets in other, much larger countries, including the United States. While the US has a much larger population, the number of targeted IP-addresses in federal cases are at most a few thousand in a typical year.

It may seem odd that an Internet provider is keeping track of these statistics. Especially when considering that Bahnhof has an entire website dedicated to the copyright trolling efforts, which it describes as extortion practices.

However, Bahnhof is not an ordinary ISP. The company has been very vocal in opposing these legal demands and actively shields its subscribers from getting exposed. With success, as it simply doesn’t hand over any data.

This dedication to protecting the privacy of subscribers is good PR for the company. Its competitors, however, will be less pleased.

According to Bahnhof, four ISPs were requested to disclose data during the past year. Telia was the main target with 31,572 IP-addresses, followed by Com Hem (19,520), Telenor (9,276), and Tre (312).

A significant number of the targeted IP-addresses were requested by adult entertainment companies, which results in settlement requests such as the one below.

In the request, the account holder is offered a settlement of 7,000 Swedish Krona ($722). At the top of the letter, it prominently states that this is about “filesharing of an erotic movie”.

According to Bahnhof, this type of language is likely used to invoke some extra shame, which may increase the likelihood of paying.

As for the future, there is no sign that things will be slowing down anytime soon. Dozens of new cases have already appeared this year. Time will tell whether we will see another record in 2020.

More information on these and other cases is available on Bahnhof’s website, which is regularly updated with new information.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Copyright Trolls Targeted Over 100,000 IP-addresses in Sweden

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-trolls-targeted-over-100000-ip-addresses-in-sweden-191008/

In the early 2000s, Sweden was considered to be a relatively safe haven for pirates.

The country was the home of the Pirate Bay, the birthing ground of the Pirate Party, and a place where for many citizens file-sharing was second nature.

Today, this safe haven has long disappeared. The Scandinavian country has prosecuted several torrent site operators, including The Pirate Bay’s founders, while lawsuits targeting individual BitTorrent users are a common sight.

In many ways, Sweden has become a copyright enforcement hotspot. This includes the ‘copyright-trolling’ phenomenon, in which movie companies target hundreds or thousands of alleged pirates hoping to secure monetary settlements.

The first wave of these lawsuits started three years ago but the practice has grown exponentially since. According to Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof, which has kept track of these cases since early 2017, the number of new cases has already broken a record this year.

During the first three quarters of 2019, a total of 78 new applications were submitted to the Patent and Market Court. This is up from 72 during the whole of 2018, and substantially more than the 27 applications that were filed a year earlier.

While the number of applications has grown, the cases target fewer IP-addresses in total. Last year over 50,000 IPs were targeted and the 2019 total so far is 26,274 IP addresses. Combined with the 2017 numbers, we see that more than 100,000 IP-addresses have been targeted over the past three years.

It’s worth noting that this exceeds the number of targets in other, much larger countries, including the United States.

This type of data is not something an Internet provider would generally release, but it makes sense considering that Bahnhof is an active anti-copyright trolling advocate. The company categorically refuses to share data with copyright holders, as it also makes clear in its press release.

While Bahnhof must retain IP-address logs by law, it operates separate databases. Data is only disclosed to law enforcement authorities for specific purposes and not for this type of copyright enforcement.

“This means that Bahnhof’s customers have not suffered from this type of extortion letter,” the Internet provider notes.

Looking at the targeted ISPs over the past year we see that most of the targeted IP-addresses belong to Telia subscribers, followed by Com Hem, and Telenor. The rightsholders who file these cases are represented by a variety of law firms, including the well known Njord Law.

While Bahnhof is indirectly using these figures to promote its own business, the company hopes that these ‘copyright-trolling’ practices will eventually end, perhaps following an intervention from the Government. According to the company, the entire process is based on extortion.

“The success factor of the letters is partly that they can easily be mistaken for genuine invoices or fines, and the threat of a legal process that drives people to pay out of pure fear, even when they are innocent. The business model is thus based on regular extortion,” Bahnhof notes.

The Swedish Internet provider also maintains a dedicated website called Utpressningskollen where it provides additional details and information on Swedish copyright-trolling efforts.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

ISP Bahnhof Must Log Subscriber Data, But ‘Copyright Mafia’ Won’t Get Any

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-bahnhof-must-log-subscriber-data-but-copyright-mafia-wont-get-any-191001/

Founded in 1994, Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof has been serving local Internet users for a quarter of a century.

During this time the company has fought hard to protect the privacy of its subscribers. This includes those who are accused of copyright infringement.

Unlike many other ISPs, Bahnhof aims to minimize its data logging practices only to the extent it is required to under the law. In recent years the ISP set up its logging policies in such a way that it can refuse requests for IP-address information from so-called copyright trolls, by deleting all relevant data after 24 hours.

The company based this practice on a European Court of Justice ruling which concluded that the European Data Retention Directive is invalid. However, data retention is now back under the spotlight.

After going back to the drawing board, Swedish lawmakers revised the Electronic Communications Act (LEK) to institute Swedish data retention requirements. This resulted in an amended law which goes into effect today, requiring all Swedish ISPs to keep detailed subscriber logs for at least 10 months.

For the Internet providers who already kept logs little will change, but Bahnhof sees it as a disaster. To minimize the privacy intrusions of its users the company has rolled out “Plan B.

Starting today Bahnhof has no other option than to log individual IP-address allocations and other personal info for ten months. However, the company stresses that it will do so in a secure manner, making sure that it’s not available to the “copyright mafia.”

Bahnhof’s (translated) press release

With the term “copyright mafia,” the company refers to the rightsholders who go after allegedly pirating Internet subscribers to demand settlements. Bahnhof has been a fierce opponent of this practice and ensures its customers that it won’t share any logs for this purpose.

“All Bahnhof customers can rest assured that their customer data is stored securely with us, that we delete after 10 months, and that we will never disclose information unless it’s in accordance with the Electronic Communications Act.

“This means that if someone else asks for customer data, including a court that handles civil litigation, we have nothing to disclose because our customers’ information is locked away as ‘safe intended for LEK’,” Bahnhof adds.

Not all ISPs have separated this data and that’s why many do comply with copyright holder requests. However, Bahnhof’s strict data policies ensure that only law enforcement agencies can request this info.

Still, Bahnhof is not happy with the mandatory data retention and will continue to protest the law whenever it can. In addition, it also points its customers to an alternative option through which they can ensure their privacy.

Bahnhof also offers a VPN service which is not required to keep any logs. If people use this, their IP-address information remains private. The VPN service was launched when earlier data retention requirements were put in place and is relevant once again.

“It is not enough to be a customer with us to be safe online, your subscription does not protect your data traffic automatically. You need to protect yourself and your data yourself with a VPN service as well,” Bahnhof writes.

While this sounds like a good opportunity to sell something ‘extra,’ the ISP is offering everyone a rather generous six-month free trial without any further obligations. After that, the costs are pretty reasonable as well, roughly $4 per month (SEK 40).

The six-month free VPN trial is open to anyone, which means that subscribers from other ISPs can try it as well.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

75-Year-Old Can’t Sleep Following Accusations of Hardcore Porn Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/75-year-old-cant-sleep-following-accusations-of-hardcore-porn-piracy-190428/

The practice of copyright-trolling is now well-established in many countries around the world.

The companies involved often gather IP addresses from BitTorrent swarms, then via the courts, obtain identities of users from their ISPs.

What follows are threats to the account holder, warning that if he or she doesn’t pay a ‘fine’, then court action will follow. This, of course, is boosted with claims that if the process gets this far, things will get much more expensive.

In reality, however, copyright trolls rarely take cases to court and when they do, they tend to head for the hills when people put up a spirited fight. That was demonstrated again earlier this week when a troll targeted an IT specialist, then backed away after claiming his technical knowledge would allow him to cover up any infringement.

Considering the main evidence in most trolling cases is a simple IP address, captured way before the rightsholders even write to a defendant, it raises the question of whether even the trolls have faith that an IP address alone is enough to prosecute a case. Some courts certainly don’t.

Yet that evidence alone appears to form the basis of claims detailed in a letter received by a pensioner in Sweden during March 2019.

The 75-year-old man was told that his IP address (allocated by his ISP TeliaSonera) had been used to share the hardcore porn movie “The Creepers Family Part 7”, which was produced by Girlfriends Films and licensed to MIRCOM International, a company with a long history of involvement in similar cases.

The company doing the tracking was Media Protector International GmbH, which has been providing data for similar cases for more than a decade.

While there can be no doubt that many IP addresses caught in the dragnets of these companies were indeed used to download and share copyrighted content, innocents are regularly caught in the crossfire. The pensioner from Sweden says that’s the case with him.

He shared his story with Bahnhof, a Swedish ISP which acts as a competitor to TeliaSonera and one that offers a sympathetic ear to people targeted by copyright trolls.

“The infringement occurred on Friday February 2, 2018 at 6:43:17, that is, a time that I as a pensioner sleeps,” he told the ISP.

“I am 75 years old and I do not know much about technology, and I wonder if there is anything I can do or if I should just pay?”

This, of course, is exactly the strategy of copyright trolls. Whether their targets are guilty or innocent, they hope their strongly-worded letters will break the resolve of recipients and make them cave in, parting with cash to make the nightmare go away.

“I sleep poorly and feel great concern because of this, I just want it to stop. My wife wants to pay to get rid of the problem, but if we do will it just make things worse?” he added.

“I am afraid that the bills will continue to come from other agencies and companies, it seems to be a business idea that is better than selling movies. This can be my ruin.”

While the mainstream media has largely given up about worrying about those targeted by copyright trolls, history has shown us that cases against pensioners are rarely well received by the public or those in power.

Two years ago, for example, an 83-year-old grandmother from the UK went to the press after being accused of pirating the Robert Redford film The Company You Keep. That attracted the attention of her local member of parliament, who branded the practice “disgusting” and raised the matter with the government.

It is not known whether the woman ever paid up but given the negative publicity and outcry, it seems unlikely. The case certainly never went to court, which is common when those accused by copyright trolls fight back and/or tell their stories in the media and complain to politicians.

For Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung, not enough is being done to protect those wrongly targeted, with citizens currently left to fight for themselves.

“It’s a corrupt system promoting copyright trolls and legal firms that thrive on blackmail. Unfortunately, there is not enough political momentum to change the situation. It’s an ongoing scandal, and I believe that this affects the justice system as a whole,” Karlung told TorrentFreak.

“The only solution is to make this problem as visible as possible. People should also start asking their telecom operators why they save data for time spans of 24 months – Bahnhof only saves for 24 hours.”

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

ISP Questions Impartiality of Judges in Copyright Troll Cases

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-questions-impartiality-of-judges-in-copyright-troll-cases-180602/

Following in the footsteps of similar operations around the world, two years ago the copyright trolling movement landed on Swedish shores.

The pattern was a familiar one, with trolls harvesting IP addresses from BitTorrent swarms and tracing them back to Internet service providers. Then, after presenting evidence to a judge, the trolls obtained orders that compelled ISPs to hand over their customers’ details. From there, the trolls demanded cash payments to make supposed lawsuits disappear.

It’s a controversial business model that rarely receives outside praise. Many ISPs have tried to slow down the flood but most eventually grow tired of battling to protect their customers. The same cannot be said of Swedish ISP Bahnhof.

The ISP, which is also a strong defender of privacy, has become known for fighting back against copyright trolls. Indeed, to thwart them at the very first step, the company deletes IP address logs after just 24 hours, which prevents its customers from being targeted.

Bahnhof says that the copyright business appeared “dirty and corrupt” right from the get go, so it now operates Utpressningskollen.se, a web portal where the ISP publishes data on Swedish legal cases in which copyright owners demand customer data from ISPs through the Patent and Market Courts.

Over the past two years, Bahnhof says it has documented 76 cases of which six are still ongoing, 11 have been waived and a majority 59 have been decided in favor of mainly movie companies. Bahnhof says that when it discovered that 59 out of the 76 cases benefited one party, it felt a need to investigate.

In a detailed report compiled by Bahnhof Communicator Carolina Lindahl and sent to TF, the ISP reveals that it examined the individual decision-makers in the cases before the Courts and found five judges with “questionable impartiality.”

“One of the judges, we can call them Judge 1, has closed 12 of the cases, of which two have been waived and the other 10 have benefitted the copyright owner, mostly movie companies,” Lindahl notes.

“Judge 1 apparently has written several articles in the magazine NIR – Nordiskt Immateriellt Rättsskydd (Nordic Intellectual Property Protection) – which is mainly supported by Svenska Föreningen för Upphovsrätt, the Swedish Association for Copyright (SFU).

“SFU is a member-financed group centered around copyright that publishes articles, hands out scholarships, arranges symposiums, etc. On their website they have a public calendar where Judge 1 appears regularly.”

Bahnhof says that the financiers of the SFU are Sveriges Television AB (Sweden’s national public TV broadcaster), Filmproducenternas Rättsförening (a legally-oriented association for filmproducers), BMG Chrysalis Scandinavia (a media giant) and Fackförbundet för Film och Mediabranschen (a union for the movie and media industry).

“This means that Judge 1 is involved in a copyright association sponsored by the film and media industry, while also judging in copyright cases with the film industry as one of the parties,” the ISP says.

Bahnhof’s also has criticism for Judge 2, who participated as an event speaker for the Swedish Association for Copyright, and Judge 3 who has written for the SFU-supported magazine NIR. According to Lindahl, Judge 4 worked for a bureau that is partly owned by a board member of SFU, who also defended media companies in a “high-profile” Swedish piracy case.

That leaves Judge 5, who handled 10 of the copyright troll cases documented by Bahnhof, waiving one and deciding the remaining nine in favor of a movie company plaintiff.

“Judge 5 has been questioned before and even been accused of bias while judging a high-profile piracy case almost ten years ago. The accusations of bias were motivated by the judge’s membership of SFU and the Swedish Association for Intellectual Property Rights (SFIR), an association with several important individuals of the Swedish copyright community as members, who all defend, represent, or sympathize with the media industry,” Lindahl says.

Bahnhof hasn’t named any of the judges nor has it provided additional details on the “high-profile” case. However, anyone who remembers the infamous trial of ‘The Pirate Bay Four’ a decade ago might recall complaints from the defense (1,2,3) that several judges involved in the case were members of pro-copyright groups.

While there were plenty of calls to consider them biased, in May 2010 the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, a fact Bahnhof recognizes.

“Judge 5 was never sentenced for bias by the court, but regardless of the court’s decision this is still a judge who shares values and has personal connections with [the media industry], and as if that weren’t enough, the judge has induced an additional financial aspect by participating in events paid for by said party,” Lindahl writes.

“The judge has parties and interest holders in their personal network, a private engagement in the subject and a financial connection to one party – textbook characteristics of bias which would make anyone suspicious.”

The decision-makers of the Patent and Market Court and their relations.

The ISP notes that all five judges have connections to the media industry in the cases they judge, which isn’t a great starting point for returning “objective and impartial” results. In its summary, however, the ISP is scathing of the overall system, one in which court cases “almost looked rigged” and appear to be decided in favor of the movie company even before reaching court.

In general, however, Bahnhof says that the processes show a lack of individual attention, such as the court blindly accepting questionable IP address evidence supplied by infamous anti-piracy outfit MaverickEye.

“The court never bothers to control the media company’s only evidence (lists generated by MaverickMonitor, which has proven to be an unreliable software), the court documents contain several typos of varying severity, and the same standard texts are reused in several different cases,” the ISP says.

“The court documents show a lack of care and control, something that can easily be taken advantage of by individuals with shady motives. The findings and discoveries of this investigation are strengthened by the pure numbers mentioned in the beginning which clearly show how one party almost always wins.

“If this is caused by bias, cheating, partiality, bribes, political agenda, conspiracy or pure coincidence we can’t say for sure, but the fact that this process has mainly generated money for the film industry, while citizens have been robbed of their personal integrity and legal certainty, indicates what forces lie behind this machinery,” Bahnhof’s Lindahl concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

The Challenges of Opening a Data Center — Part 1

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/choosing-data-center/

Backblaze storage pod in new data center

This is part one of a series. The second part will be posted later this week. Use the Join button above to receive notification of future posts in this series.

Though most of us have never set foot inside of a data center, as citizens of a data-driven world we nonetheless depend on the services that data centers provide almost as much as we depend on a reliable water supply, the electrical grid, and the highway system. Every time we send a tweet, post to Facebook, check our bank balance or credit score, watch a YouTube video, or back up a computer to the cloud we are interacting with a data center.

In this series, The Challenges of Opening a Data Center, we’ll talk in general terms about the factors that an organization needs to consider when opening a data center and the challenges that must be met in the process. Many of the factors to consider will be similar for opening a private data center or seeking space in a public data center, but we’ll assume for the sake of this discussion that our needs are more modest than requiring a data center dedicated solely to our own use (i.e. we’re not Google, Facebook, or China Telecom).

Data center technology and management are changing rapidly, with new approaches to design and operation appearing every year. This means we won’t be able to cover everything happening in the world of data centers in our series, however, we hope our brief overview proves useful.

What is a Data Center?

A data center is the structure that houses a large group of networked computer servers typically used by businesses, governments, and organizations for the remote storage, processing, or distribution of large amounts of data.

While many organizations will have computing services in the same location as their offices that support their day-to-day operations, a data center is a structure dedicated to 24/7 large-scale data processing and handling.

Depending on how you define the term, there are anywhere from a half million data centers in the world to many millions. While it’s possible to say that an organization’s on-site servers and data storage can be called a data center, in this discussion we are using the term data center to refer to facilities that are expressly dedicated to housing computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. The facility might be a private center, which is owned or leased by one tenant only, or a shared data center that offers what are called “colocation services,” and rents space, services, and equipment to multiple tenants in the center.

A large, modern data center operates around the clock, placing a priority on providing secure and uninterrrupted service, and generally includes redundant or backup power systems or supplies, redundant data communication connections, environmental controls, fire suppression systems, and numerous security devices. Such a center is an industrial-scale operation often using as much electricity as a small town.

Types of Data Centers

There are a number of ways to classify data centers according to how they will be used, whether they are owned or used by one or multiple organizations, whether and how they fit into a topology of other data centers; which technologies and management approaches they use for computing, storage, cooling, power, and operations; and increasingly visible these days: how green they are.

Data centers can be loosely classified into three types according to who owns them and who uses them.

Exclusive Data Centers are facilities wholly built, maintained, operated and managed by the business for the optimal operation of its IT equipment. Some of these centers are well-known companies such as Facebook, Google, or Microsoft, while others are less public-facing big telecoms, insurance companies, or other service providers.

Managed Hosting Providers are data centers managed by a third party on behalf of a business. The business does not own data center or space within it. Rather, the business rents IT equipment and infrastructure it needs instead of investing in the outright purchase of what it needs.

Colocation Data Centers are usually large facilities built to accommodate multiple businesses within the center. The business rents its own space within the data center and subsequently fills the space with its IT equipment, or possibly uses equipment provided by the data center operator.

Backblaze, for example, doesn’t own its own data centers but colocates in data centers owned by others. As Backblaze’s storage needs grow, Backblaze increases the space it uses within a given data center and/or expands to other data centers in the same or different geographic areas.

Availability is Key

When designing or selecting a data center, an organization needs to decide what level of availability is required for its services. The type of business or service it provides likely will dictate this. Any organization that provides real-time and/or critical data services will need the highest level of availability and redundancy, as well as the ability to rapidly failover (transfer operation to another center) when and if required. Some organizations require multiple data centers not just to handle the computer or storage capacity they use, but to provide alternate locations for operation if something should happen temporarily or permanently to one or more of their centers.

Organizations operating data centers that can’t afford any downtime at all will typically operate data centers that have a mirrored site that can take over if something happens to the first site, or they operate a second site in parallel to the first one. These data center topologies are called Active/Passive, and Active/Active, respectively. Should disaster or an outage occur, disaster mode would dictate immediately moving all of the primary data center’s processing to the second data center.

While some data center topologies are spread throughout a single country or continent, others extend around the world. Practically, data transmission speeds put a cap on centers that can be operated in parallel with the appearance of simultaneous operation. Linking two data centers located apart from each other — say no more than 60 miles to limit data latency issues — together with dark fiber (leased fiber optic cable) could enable both data centers to be operated as if they were in the same location, reducing staffing requirements yet providing immediate failover to the secondary data center if needed.

This redundancy of facilities and ensured availability is of paramount importance to those needing uninterrupted data center services.

Active/Passive Data Centers

Active/Active Data Centers

LEED Certification

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. Facilities can achieve ratings of certified, silver, gold, or platinum based on criteria within six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design.

Green certification has become increasingly important in data center design and operation as data centers require great amounts of electricity and often cooling water to operate. Green technologies can reduce costs for data center operation, as well as make the arrival of data centers more amenable to environmentally-conscious communities.

The ACT, Inc. data center in Iowa City, Iowa was the first data center in the U.S. to receive LEED-Platinum certification, the highest level available.

ACT Data Center exterior

ACT Data Center exterior

ACT Data Center interior

ACT Data Center interior

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Data Center

There are numerous factors to consider when deciding to build or to occupy space in a data center. Aspects such as proximity to available power grids, telecommunications infrastructure, networking services, transportation lines, and emergency services can affect costs, risk, security and other factors that need to be taken into consideration.

The size of the data center will be dictated by the business requirements of the owner or tenant. A data center can occupy one room of a building, one or more floors, or an entire building. Most of the equipment is often in the form of servers mounted in 19 inch rack cabinets, which are usually placed in single rows forming corridors (so-called aisles) between them. This allows staff access to the front and rear of each cabinet. Servers differ greatly in size from 1U servers (i.e. one “U” or “RU” rack unit measuring 44.50 millimeters or 1.75 inches), to Backblaze’s Storage Pod design that fits a 4U chassis, to large freestanding storage silos that occupy many square feet of floor space.


Location will be one of the biggest factors to consider when selecting a data center and encompasses many other factors that should be taken into account, such as geological risks, neighboring uses, and even local flight paths. Access to suitable available power at a suitable price point is often the most critical factor and the longest lead time item, followed by broadband service availability.

With more and more data centers available providing varied levels of service and cost, the choices increase each year. Data center brokers can be employed to find a data center, just as one might use a broker for home or other commercial real estate.

Websites listing available colocation space, such as upstack.io, or entire data centers for sale or lease, are widely used. A common practice is for a customer to publish its data center requirements, and the vendors compete to provide the most attractive bid in a reverse auction.

Business and Customer Proximity

The center’s closeness to a business or organization may or may not be a factor in the site selection. The organization might wish to be close enough to manage the center or supervise the on-site staff from a nearby business location. The location of customers might be a factor, especially if data transmission speeds and latency are important, or the business or customers have regulatory, political, tax, or other considerations that dictate areas suitable or not suitable for the storage and processing of data.


Local climate is a major factor in data center design because the climatic conditions dictate what cooling technologies should be deployed. In turn this impacts uptime and the costs associated with cooling, which can total as much as 50% or more of a center’s power costs. The topology and the cost of managing a data center in a warm, humid climate will vary greatly from managing one in a cool, dry climate. Nevertheless, data centers are located in both extremely cold regions and extremely hot ones, with innovative approaches used in both extremes to maintain desired temperatures within the center.

Geographic Stability and Extreme Weather Events

A major obvious factor in locating a data center is the stability of the actual site as regards weather, seismic activity, and the likelihood of weather events such as hurricanes, as well as fire or flooding.

Backblaze’s Sacramento data center describes its location as one of the most stable geographic locations in California, outside fault zones and floodplains.

Sacramento Data Center

Sometimes the location of the center comes first and the facility is hardened to withstand anticipated threats, such as Equinix’s NAP of the Americas data center in Miami, one of the largest single-building data centers on the planet (six stories and 750,000 square feet), which is built 32 feet above sea level and designed to withstand category 5 hurricane winds.

Equinix Data Center in Miami

Equinix “NAP of the Americas” Data Center in Miami

Most data centers don’t have the extreme protection or history of the Bahnhof data center, which is located inside the ultra-secure former nuclear bunker Pionen, in Stockholm, Sweden. It is buried 100 feet below ground inside the White Mountains and secured behind 15.7 in. thick metal doors. It prides itself on its self-described “Bond villain” ambiance.

Bahnhof Data Center under White Mountain in Stockholm

Usually, the data center owner or tenant will want to take into account the balance between cost and risk in the selection of a location. The Ideal quadrant below is obviously favored when making this compromise.

Cost vs Risk in selecting a data center

Cost = Construction/lease, power, bandwidth, cooling, labor, taxes
Risk = Environmental (seismic, weather, water, fire), political, economic

Risk mitigation also plays a strong role in pricing. The extent to which providers must implement special building techniques and operating technologies to protect the facility will affect price. When selecting a data center, organizations must make note of the data center’s certification level on the basis of regulatory requirements in the industry. These certifications can ensure that an organization is meeting necessary compliance requirements.


Electrical power usually represents the largest cost in a data center. The cost a service provider pays for power will be affected by the source of the power, the regulatory environment, the facility size and the rate concessions, if any, offered by the utility. At higher level tiers, battery, generator, and redundant power grids are a required part of the picture.

Fault tolerance and power redundancy are absolutely necessary to maintain uninterrupted data center operation. Parallel redundancy is a safeguard to ensure that an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system is in place to provide electrical power if necessary. The UPS system can be based on batteries, saved kinetic energy, or some type of generator using diesel or another fuel. The center will operate on the UPS system with another UPS system acting as a backup power generator. If a power outage occurs, the additional UPS system power generator is available.

Many data centers require the use of independent power grids, with service provided by different utility companies or services, to prevent against loss of electrical service no matter what the cause. Some data centers have intentionally located themselves near national borders so that they can obtain redundant power from not just separate grids, but from separate geopolitical sources.

Higher redundancy levels required by a company will of invariably lead to higher prices. If one requires high availability backed by a service-level agreement (SLA), one can expect to pay more than another company with less demanding redundancy requirements.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of The Challenges of Opening a Data Center

That’s it for part 1 of this post. In subsequent posts, we’ll take a look at some other factors to consider when moving into a data center such as network bandwidth, cooling, and security. We’ll take a look at what is involved in moving into a new data center (including stories from Backblaze’s experiences). We’ll also investigate what it takes to keep a data center running, and some of the new technologies and trends affecting data center design and use. You can discover all posts on our blog tagged with “Data Center” by following the link https://www.backblaze.com/blog/tag/data-center/.

The second part of this series on The Challenges of Opening a Data Center will be posted later this week. Use the Join button above to receive notification of future posts in this series.

The post The Challenges of Opening a Data Center — Part 1 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.