Ever wondered what happens to each e-mail you fire off Gmail between the moment you hit Send and the second it reaches the recipient’s inbox? If the answer’s yes, Google has released The Story of Send to share a timeline of how your e-mails travel between computers and networks, and how Google aims to keep your information private and secure.
As part of the Google Green initiative, the story follows an unspecified e-mail that travels through your roof, antennas, your neighbor’s walls, Google’s data center, and more. At some points of the nine stations, you can watch videos to learn more about Google’s data center to see how the system filters for spam, viruses, all while maintaining an energy-efficient environment and utilizing renewable power. You can see in a video how extra security measures are taken with its own staff when an employee has to scan his work ID card and his eyes to authorize passage, then watch another video of how the data centers are powered by local wind farms. Of course, the illustrations are all in classic Google style, with cartoon employees roaming about the timeline passing by in scooters, checking up on the network system, and looking over the cloud computing center — all with a smile on their little faces.
“Our servers work together to process your data, including duplicating your message to create backups, scanning it for viruses, and filtering for spam,” the Hard-working machines page states. “To cool the equipment doing all this work, we use energy-saving methods inspired by the natural environment around us. We also custom-build all of our servers so they are 93% efficient.”
Duplicating messages? This kind of made us pause on sending those confidential e-mails.
Clicking through the process and learning about how Google attempts to deliver an efficient email system definitely makes you think twice about using Gmail; it’s as if we take the technology for granted. Some people shoot e-mails off without really taking the time to proofread or make sure their attachments are even there, yet the data center has to process ever single one of our e-mails — silly, mistaken, extremely private, or extremely unnecessary.
If you’re more curious of how Google attempts to maintain sustainability, you can also check out the Google Green site for more of the company’s footprint information. The little site might not mean much to the average person, but it can show you how much work gets put into the few seconds between Send and Received.