Storage. I remember a time when nearly half the questions that people sent me related to storage in one way or another, and one of the most common storage-related questions was 'How do I add more storage to my system?' However, over the past couple of years I've noticed a dramatic decline in the number of people asking this question.
Have user storage demands flatlined?
I think that they have, and anecdotal evidence from people I know, combined with what scant information is available, suggests that users aren't short on space. Take a look at Steam's hardware and software survey for June 2011 and you'll see that over 30% of gamers using the distribution system have between 250GB and 499GB of total hard drive space, nearly 12% have 500GB to 749GB, nearly 14% have between 750GB and 999GB and a whopping 25% have more than 1TB.
It's also interesting to take a look at free disk space. 32% have between 10GB and 99GB free, 26% have between 100GB and 249GB free, and nearly 21% have between 250GB and 499GB free. People seem to have enough disk space. And remember, these folks are gamers, and games take up a lot of free space.
So, what's behind this flatlining of storage demands? I see a number of factors at work here:
- Storage is cheap, so OEMs can afford to add more to even cheap systems.
- It's easier to add secondary storage in the form of USB flash drives, external hard drives and NAS boxes.
- Your basic computer comes with 500GB of disk space, which is a lot of space for a home user.
- Games consoles have lessened the storage demands on many home PCs.
- People are uploading photos and video to social websites (or cloud) rather than keeping them on their home computers.
- Services like Steam allow people to re-download games rather than keep them installed when they're not needed.
- More streaming.
- Less bittorrenting.
I've got a LOAD of storage (several TBs in several machines, a server with several TBs, a number of external hard drives and a monster 12TB NAS box) but I'm definitely an edge case. Most people I know seem to be happy with around 500GB to 1TB disk space which seems to offer plenty of space for their stuff, and plenty of free space for expansion.
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