What was, and what will be. A look at the storage market…

My Amazon author page!!!!

My first hard drive was 20 megabytes in size. I thought it was more storage than I would ever need. I had built (with my students) a Hypercard stack about Dinosaurs that encompassed 8 megs of space and 14 floppy drives. Which meant based on the reliability and fragility of floppies that we had to have 42 disks. If you changed something once you had to write it 3 times.

Suddenly with the hard drive we were able to expand the stack and add the sounds of various dinosaurs. Simply an amazing HyperCard stack. Now we needed 21 floppies but we could have two complete copies other than the one on the hard drive as backups and the backups only had to be done once a week or so. Simply put the hard drive on that Macintosh saved me more time than the first computer I owned saved me in productivity.

Today I find myself pushing terabytes not megabytes. The concept of on-line storage has changed radically as has the concept of local storage. I’ve talked before about the various options for cloud storage. OneDrive works really well for integration with MS Office (shockingly). Amazon’s elastic storage is nice – particularly since they preload your music onto the drive – also great for interaction with the Fire devices (shocking). I use d\Dropbox for the most part with the volunteer work I do. Box is the last one and I use that for my personal sharing and storage of images.

From backups to picture shares storage has become a much more integral part of what we do. It has also gone down in price. Radically. You can actually storage a terabyte of data in the top tier on-line storage facilities for roughly 60 bucks a year. Fault tolerant and available in multiple zones for around 120 bucks a year.

(You can do the same thing with Carbonite, including a local duplicate copy of your machine for $99 bucks a year)

Storage remains an interesting dance. Once upon a time a 1 gig card for digital camera could store 2000 images. Now that 1 gig card will barely hold 100 images. The camera’s continue to get better and of course that means the size of the images grows as well.

Now due to the nature of digital camera’s you need a lot more storage. You have camera’s on cellular phones that support slo-motion photography, time lapse and near night images. You can purchase digital cameras that support really high speed photography commercially and all of those produce images. The images are larger today than they were 5 years ago. Even converting traditional photos and slides consumes space.

The interesting problem – my first hard drive beyond the one in the Macintosh I had was a SCSI drive. On occasion (say roughly 5% of the time) SCSI would burp and I would have to rewrite what I had just saved or it would be lost. Today I have drives that have been on and running for 2 and 3 years. The number of failures in that time period is less than 1% (way less). Not only do we have more storage today, but it is more reliable and if you have ever connected more than one SCSI device – a whole lot easier to connect.

How and where you use storage has changed as well. My Dish network receiver actually let’s me connect a hard drive to it for external storage of DVR’s shows (or as you upgrade you can copy all the recordings you haven’t watched and move them to the new receiver). I am still not happy about the fact that it’s a free service now (because I paid to use it years ago) but oh well. The Xbox One supports and external drive now (up to 2 terabytes) which allows more local caching for game play.

The market amazes me. Storage comes in all shapes and sizes now. What once cost me 500 dollars now costs less than 90 dollars. Where there were once multiple storage vendors we are slowly creeping down to 3 or 4 in the market.

Oh how things have changed.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow