Let's talk storage!

Have user storage demands flatlined?

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:

  1. Storage is cheap, so OEMs can afford to add more to even cheap systems.
  2. It's easier to add secondary storage in the form of USB flash drives, external hard drives and NAS boxes.
  3. Your basic computer comes with 500GB of disk space, which is a lot of space for a home user.
  4. Games consoles have lessened the storage demands on many home PCs.
  5. People are uploading photos and video to social websites (or cloud) rather than keeping them on their home computers.
  6. Services like Steam allow people to re-download games rather than keep them installed when they're not needed.
  7. More streaming.
  8. 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.

Have your say in the poll below!

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