Thursday, 21 May 2009

Do they delete your data?

Cambridge University have recently completed a PhD study into Internet security, focusing on what happens to your data that is stored by the numerous social networking sites and Web 2.0 websites.

The study, which was focusing on the process of information removal after you delete an item or account, found that 3 of the biggest social networking sites, Myspace, Facebook and Bebo retained the information after it was deleted. It is possible to gain access to this information though direct links to the pages which have been cached. The big photo sharing websites like Flickr and Photobucket are very careful with this loop hole, ensuring that all your information is deleted when you ask it to be.

The implication for data centres is that all that extra information has to be stored somewhere. For example, on average Facebook receives 250,000 new registrations a day. If we presume that 5% of this number delete their accounts everyday, 12,500 people's personal information and photo's are still held. As Cambridge University showed, the information must still be stored on a Facebook server somewhere, and if the average account takes up 15 MB of room on a server, that is 183 GB a day of information that should be erased. 65.2 TB a year is a lot of data and a significant amount of storage space. Utilising a modern server and storage running at 1.44 kW, this would use over 12MW of power a year and would increase by the same amount each year.

This does not take into account the security risks and personal information protection, but certainly asks a big question; do you know who has your personal data? and more importantly do they actually delete it when requested? Apparently not, and the only people that suffer are you and the environment.

Migration Solutions are data centre specialists. They recently won the Information Age Data Centre Innovation Award for ERA, an environmental report and assessment. ERA investigates all the elements that affect a data centre's operation and gives advice on how to be more environmentally friendly, more efficient and save on energy consumption. For more information visit

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