Data Storage: Do you have enough space to read this blog post?

The announced problem:

Nowadays, we live in a multimedia world. Our communications are done by multimedia systems, social media networks handle our social interactions, information comes to us by multimedia devices, and so on. We share dozens of videos, hundreds of photos, and thousands of words daily. However, we usually do not think about how this is stored, but Ben Walker (2015) stated that we create 2.5 quintillion (2,500,000,000,000,000,000) bytes of data every day. With this huge amount of information, we have two main problems: how to store this data in a way that it can be easily accessed and categorized, and where to put it.

mz-run_out
Data usage infographic. (Mozy, 2012)

In the past few years, many companies have been investing in a new idea, which many researchers are working on in many universities and some specialists claim that it will be the future of storage: “Big Data”. Its primary goal is to categorize multimedia in different forms of data and find patterns on that. Nevertheless, we still have to face a second problem: we are running out of space to keep our files. Tom Prindiville (2013), the Vice President of Sales of a storage company called Contegix, said, “Hard drive capacity isn’t keeping pace with the current level data increases.  Predictions says that global data will increase by a factor of 50 by 2020, but hard drives are only predicted to grow 15-fold in that same timeframe.”

 

How did this problem begin?

Fredrick Williams, professor at the University of Manchester, created the first computer with storage back in 1947 and since this revolution, we always seems to need more space. My uncle used to tell me a story of when he bought a computer with a 20MB Hard Drive and thought that he would never run out of storage space in his life. The data is always getting bigger and with the internet popularization in the 80s and 90s, the amount of people using computer raises by the day. Computer engineers, scientists and researchers are always trying to find ways to increase our storage capabilities, and so far, we are winning this race: we have more space than we need. Offers of storage space online are common in several websites and applications. However, we are quickly consuming the space that we have, the number of devices tends to get higher and the size of multimedia products are increasing.

 

We can already see it happening!

“Running out of storage space.” This message is haunting smartphone users. Even though the storage capacity of the smartphones is as huge as most computers seven years ago, the little device is consuming more space than ever. Smartphones can record videos in 4K resolution, take pictures that would make some cameras from last year jealous, allow its owners to play some games, and on and on. On the other hand, all these innovations have a price to keep and many users are suffering with it.

Big Data itself can be an example of how much the scientists are worried about the future of storing. The information that people can retrieve when using this amount of data is amazing: one famous grocery store used the pattern of the purchases of their clients and changed their products locations based on that, raising their sales by 11%. Although Big Data works with vast data supply, there is a growing study field that analyzes and categorizes useless information, revealing that even people that work with enormous supplies are apprehensive about what can happen if we continue pushing data usage as we are.

 

How it affects everything…

If, somehow, we do not manage to handle this problem until we run out of storage capabilities, we can be sure that all of the progresses we are making will be delayed. The future trends such as Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 360-degree images and videos and many others will have their development stopped since they require lots of space and lots of data processing. How about our communications? TVs will not be able to exhibit their shows anymore. In his blog post, talking about HD TV, Alan Johnson (2015) stated, “These applications are demanding both in terms of performance and capacity since a sustained transfer rate of 200MB/Sec uses 1 GB of storage in 5 seconds. A single disk drive of 400GB in capacity will therefore provide only a little over ½ an hour of HDTV uncompressed playback time.” Moreover, that would be only the beginning. Most of the apps would have to put a limit in their data: Conversation apps would avoid uploads and downloads of videos, we would not be able to share files, and storage prices would increase for the first time in history.

 

Hope:

Engineers are working in new storage devices. The new Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) has a new technology that increases the hard disk density by 25%. However, the bet for the future is the DNA… Yes, DNA. Meliana Pinola (2015) said, “DNA offers incredible storage density, 2.2 petabytes per gram, which means that a DNA hard drive about the size of a teaspoon could fit all of the world’s data on it–every song ever composed, book ever written, video ever shared.” Therefore, we still have hope of a future where we can fit all of our data with efficiency.

 

 

Bibliographic References

Athow, D. (2014, December 22). World could ‘run out of storage capacity’ within two years warns Seagate. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.techradar.com/us/news/internet/data-centre/world-could-run-out-of-storage-capacity-within-2-years-warns-seagate-vp-1278040/2

Johnson, A. (n.d.). Data Storage and Video Technology. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://alanxelsys.com/data-storgae-and-video-technology/

Pinola, M. (2015, October 6). Data Storage Technologies of the Future. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from https://www.backblaze.com/blog/data-storage-technologies-of-the-future/

Prindiville, T. (2013, May 9). Big Data Comes With Big Problems. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.contegix.com/big-data-comes-with-big-problems/

Robb, D. (2015, November 10). Are we running out of data storage space? Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/11/are-we-running-out-of-data-storage-space

Walker, B. (2015, May 5). EVERY DAY BIG DATA STATISTICS – 2.5 QUINTILLION BYTES OF DATA CREATED DAILY. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.vcloudnews.com/every-day-big-data-statistics-2-5-quintillion-bytes-of-data-created-daily/

Whitby, M. (2014, August 29). The data capacity gap: Why the world is running out of storage space Read more: http://www.itproportal.com/2014/08/29/the-data-capacity-gap-why-the-world-is-running-out-of-storage-space/#ixzz40yGlFXIK. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.itproportal.com/2014/08/29/the-data-capacity-gap-why-the-world-is-running-out-of-storage-space/


5 thoughts on “Data Storage: Do you have enough space to read this blog post?

  1. This is pretty interesting. I always wanted to understand how my storage would fill up on my phone even though I tried to minimize the amount of apps, pictures, videos, and etc. that were constantly on my phone. Now I see how demanding all of this is just to even get the apps and shared pictures etc. on my phone (through that transfer rate you mentioned), let alone store it for the long run!

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  2. Development of bigger and faster storage devices seems to have kept up with consumer demand. However, these products are constantly getting more expensive. Companies are also making apps and content more data heavy as storage expands. It will be interesting to see if we ever reach a point where data exceeds our storage capabilities.

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    1. I really hope we don’t reach that point because if we do, we will have many limitations in the internet use and to create new multimedia content and that will slow down our advances. Let’s have hope in the new technologies.

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  3. Very interesting read. Most people wouldn’t even see data storage as a problem because the smallest hard drive size sold for a laptop today is around 250 GB. Unless you’re storing everything imaginable, the common computer user will never fill that 250 GB hard drive. The emerging technology for data storage is breath taking, especially when they are talking about 3D storage. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

    Like

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