Data storage has been a part of our lives since our ancestors first started writing on stone tablets. The advent of the computer accelerated our ability to create data, but this brought a new challenge: Now that we can create data so quickly, how will we store it? FTP hosting on cloud-based systems work to some extent, but is that enough for the massive quantities of data we re producing?



To give you an idea of just how quickly data is being generated in the information age, here are a few quick stats. Every minute of the day:

  • YouTube receives 48 hours of uploaded video
  • Over 2 million search queries hit Google
  • Twitter users post about 100,000 tweets
  • 571 new websites are created
  • Over 200,000,000 email messages are created and sent

That is just a small sample of the monumental amount of data we are creating and sharing. Estimates place the size of digital data the world over to be approaching 1.2 zettabytes; that s that's about 1.3 trillion gigabytes. If that doesn t blow your mind, I don t know what will.

So how is the storage industry responding? In 2007, the amount of digital data in the world exceeded the amount of available storage for the first time in history, forcing us to focus on the data we were producing and maybe re-evaluate our choice to share another update about our cat on Facebook. The storage industry responded by dumping more and more resources into technology for digital data storage, releasing devices that decrease in size almost as much as they increase in capacity. Manufacturers released larger hard drives, bringing several terabytes of storage into a computer user s home. An entire industry was spawned: cloud storage. Cloud storage spans several computing devices and pieces of storage hardware and stores data virtually without relying on a single consumer device.

Has supply caught up with demand?

To date, we still haven t caught up. We re producing far more data than we can store, resulting in great amounts of digital data loss. For perspective, we can currently only store about 70 percent (695 exabytes) of that 1.2 zettabyte figure. It s also far easier to create data than it is to create storage for that data, so while our global output and storage may double every year at the same pace, storage falls behind production at a rate of about 45 percent per year (1,390 exabytes is only 1.357 zettabytes, almost half of what our production would be a year from now, if doubling is assumed).

The moral of the story? We need more storage, and we re going to need it quicker than we ever have before. So the next time you want to share that amazing photo of your cat sleeping on top of the railing, think about the world and the data storage dilemma. And then upload it anyway, because how are we going to improve supply without demand?


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