This is the Amazon AWS Snowmobile – essentially a hard drive on lots of wheels image

Everyone has one or more USB sticks lying around – in your car, in the back pocket or the purse. Well, Amazon has a version of this storage unit that’s so big it needs to be carried around with a semi truck.

It’s called the Amazon AWS Snowmobile and the reason the company is using a rig is because the storage option can house 100 petabytes (or 100,000 terabytes) in a bespoke shipping-container-sized housing. Amazon explains the use of this massive rig – some companies need extreme cloud capabilities – for example film producing houses, or those working with satellite imagery, or scientific data. And because the Internet can only do so much in terms of speed, waiting years until the transfer is finished is not an option.

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The Snowmobile acts as a unit extension of Amazon’s AWS Snowball service that offers clients transfers of one petabyte (1,000 terabytes) per week to the cloud. This is usually enough for many, but some clients have exabytes (1,000,000 terabytes) of data that need off-site storage. Amazon sends the truck – or more trucks – and the mobile hard drive links to the local network, transferring at speeds of one terabyte per second – the storage is so big it can eat up data for ten days before becoming full. The 45-foot (13.7-meter) long, 9.6-foot (2.93-meter) high container – which is water-proof, climate-controlled, and GPS-tracked – is then moved to offload the data into the Amazon Web Services cloud computing system.