Google, the world’s most popular search engine, is unable to recover a huge amount of data after lightning struck one of its key data centers in Belgium, four times.

The unlikely strike means that some users have permanently lost a significant amount of data.

In a formal statement, the company said that just 0.000001% of its desk space was permanently damaged at the site, though this will still have a notable impact on a substantial amount of information.

It is not known with certainty what kind of information was lost in the unforeseen lightning strikes, or which users were affected, but it is clear that the affected servers were owned by the Google Compute Engine (GCE) Service, where they store client data and operate virtual machines in the cloud.

In an official online statement, Google Engineer James Wilman said, “Although automatic auxiliary systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain.”

He went on to say, “Everything in the data center is connected one way or another,”  “If you get four large strikes it wouldn’t surprise me that it has affected the facility.”

While the possibility of permanently losing data due to such occurrences as lightning strikes is extremely low in such facilities as Google’s, it appears that the company’s existing precautions were not sufficient to prevent loss of data in this rare occurrence.

Google said that it will be upgrading its hardware in order to reduce the possibility of such huge data losses in the future.

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