The Evolution of Data Storage: Part 2

TSP • @myTSPnet


According to Domo, 1.7 MB of data was created every second in 2020. Raconteur estimates that by 2025, 463 exabytes of data will be generated each day by humans (1 exabyte is equivalent to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes). With the seemingly never-ending influx of data, robust data storage is more important now than ever before.

So…what’s data storage? As a refresher, data storage is the collective methods and technologies that capture and retain digital information on electromagnetic, optical or silicon-based storage media. More simply put, data storage helps retain the 1.7 MB of data we create every day.

In a previous blog, we discussed the evolution of data storage and how the invention of the floppy disc in 1971 eventually helped pave the way for more advanced technologies, like cloud-based technology and flash storage. The data storage industry is ever-changing, and in order to understand where we are going, it’s important to look back at where we came from.

What’s the purpose of collecting data if we are unable to store it? Herman Hollerith became one of the first to address this conundrum with his invention of the punch card for the 1890 census, the first known effort of data storage. Hollerith’s historic invention set the stage for 130 years of data storage innovation (and counting).

After the invention of the floppy disc in 1971, the Compact Disc (CD) was invented in 1979 and publicly released by Philips and Sony in 1982 as a way to efficiently share and store music. The first CDs could hold between 650 and 700 megabytes of storage, which was more than a personal computer’s hard drive at the time.

Most people probably didn’t realize that their CD compilations of Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones were a historic step in the evolution of data storage. Although more complex methods have since been created, there is no denying the importance of the CD in providing data storage to the masses.

The first Secure Digital (SD) card proved that efficient memory storage can be portable and convenient, not big and bulky. In 1999, Panasonic, Toshiba and SanDisk updated the MultiMediaCard (MMC) with the introduction of the Secure Digital standard. These small yet thin memory cards revolutionized the photography, videography and technology industries by providing efficient storage methods for portable devices, including PDAs, digital cameras and GPS navigation devices. At first, SD Cards only had between 2 and 4 gigabytes of storage capacity. Today, SD cards can hold up to 2 terabytes of data.

Sony’s invention of the Blu-ray optical disc in 2003 modernized the DVD, providing more than twice the capacity. Blu-ray discs helped store the heavy data that new high-definition (HD) videos created. Furthermore, Blu-Ray players could read both CDs and DVDs, while simultaneously featuring advanced audio and video formats.

Today, cloud-based storage and flash storage are still the most popular and arguably most efficient data storage technologies. The affordability, lesser likelihood of data loss, secure backups and malware protection provided by cloud technologies create a reliable and accessible method of storage.

On the other hand, flash storage is another great option providing speedy access to data, durability, lesser energy consumption, portability and compatibility. Between these two options, users are sure to find a storage method that best suits their needs.

The above technologies have served us well, but as we continue to develop more and more data, innovation is key in the future of data storage. In addition to the cloud-based technology and flash storage technologies we explained in our first evolution of data storage blog, scientists and tech experts continue to push the envelope with new and creative inventions.

Because helium is lighter than air, helium reduces the amount of energy that air-filled hard drives require to function. Reduced energy leads to reduced vibrations, thus decreasing the drag inside helium drives. As a result, helium drives are thinner, energy-efficient, allow for a larger memory capacity and run cooler and quieter.

Yes, you read that correctly — DNA. DNA has already proven to be a stable data management and storage system. DNA’s four-letter nucleotide code allows stored data to be written via synthesis and read via sequencing. While tech-based storage inventions may have limited lifespans and require great time and energy, DNA stores large amounts of data for a lower maintenance cost.

Holographic storage employs photosensitive optical material in order to store various information in the same location through different angles of light, while traditional storage discs utilize two-dimensional space. As a result, data can be created through three-dimensional means, which can store more information in a more compact space.

While cloud-based storage and flash storage appear to be the most widely used and accepted, as our society continues to advance, it’s important to consider the possibility of helium drives, DNA data storage and holographic storage.

A notable aspect of the evolution of data storage is the ability of large corporations to work together to create progressive new products. As we continue to innovate and find new ways to store data, it’s imperative that we work together to create efficient and secure storage methods.