I was having a conversation the other day about Dropbox, and the topic turned to how much storage individuals had purchased over the years. I decided to take a look.
The best source I could find was Western Digital’s quarterly fact sheet, quite a wealth of storage numbers. Using their numbers to extrapolate the rest of the market, I calculated that over 325 million external drives have been shipped with a total of nearly 200 exabytes of capacity over the last five years.
That’s 66,667 times the amount of digital data stored by the Library of Congress.
That’s 100 times what the new NSA data center can store.
That’s 27.4 gigabytes of storage for every one of the 7.17 billion human beings on Earth or 125 gigabytes for every smartphone owner on Earth.
Oddly, I was expecting an even bigger number, but this calculation doesn’t take into account the storage within all the computers, phones, and other consumer devices. My takeaway is that people are still buying 50-60 million external drives a year to deal with their growing digital content, and that cloud storage services have only begun to penetrate a vast market.
Photo “bin’d” by Robert S. Donovan