Gmail and Google Workspace use the same global data storage as Google’s search engine.
Google currently has 24 data global data centers. The first data center was built on the Oregon side of the Columbia River in 2006 (see picture below).
Google stores subscriber data (email, documents, spreadsheets, etc.) in small pieces. Each of those chunks is copied several times and stored in multiple geographic locations. This is managed by Colossus.
When you look at an email or open a document, the pieces are effectively reassembled for you, on-demand.
Distributed Global Storage
Your saved Google Sheet, for example, isn’t a file that lives on a single drive in Oregon. The pieces of the file are only put back together for you and for those whom you share the file with.
Because these pieces are geographically distributed and copied, if one or even several centers were to go completely down, you would still have access to your information.
Google allows you to set data region policies in Google Workspace.
No single drive in Google’s vast global array of storage devices has meaningful Google Workspace customer data on it. Still, when a drive fails, it is physically destroyed.
Google’s servers are “built for failure.” Components fail all the time. When a component fails, the server tray is slid out and the part replaced. There is no server housing to remove. Because there are extra pieces of each file, a customer would never notice a component failure.
So, where are your Gmail and Google Workspace data stored? Everywhere and nowhere…