Now, there are thousands of phones in Prineville, and more to be added in other data centers as well.
See also: ZDNet's deeper look at Facebook's new phone testing program It's an odd way to use a data center, but Facebook isn't your typical company.
So what happens if Prineville suddenly goes offline?There are effectively several copies of all our data in the company's other centers.It also only counts about 165 staff between employees and contractors.That's nearly one person for every 10 million Facebook users logging in each month.Facebook already attracts more than a billion users every day, but its focus on the next billion can be traced back to initiatives like
Launched three years ago, was pitched as an effort to "bring affordable internet access to everyone in the world." "We believe that every person should have access to free basic internet services -- tools for health, education, jobs and basic communication," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the initiative's first anniversary.
Four tall, gray buildings stand among the homesteads and farms on Route 126 outside Prineville, Oregon. "Guys in Brazil and Southeast Asia, they don't have the cool new phone," said Ken Patchett, Facebook's director of western data center operations.
They house a Facebook data center stuffed with servers. The social network has chosen rural Oregon to test roughly 2,000 phones -- almost all of them out-of-date models that many of us would hesitate to use in public -- dating back to the Apple , both from 2011. Facebook has already saturated the richer countries, where consumers have the luxury of lining up for the latest gadgets and, more importantly have the the cash, credit or subsidies to buy them.
And to make sure it works, Facebook sometimes takes one of the data centers offline, without warning to staff.
It's hard not to notice the chilly air next to these servers, and that's by design.
Think of it like the digital equivalent of a warehouse.