Computer users all over the world are becoming digital pack rats on a colossal new scale, overflowing their files with data and saving them for a long time. That’s creating a bonanza for the $23 billion data-storage hardware business, long a dull backwater of the computer industry.
In a digital age, the global appetite for archived information is growing: from high-tech body scans in hospitals to giant databases at retail chains, and even endless camera angles from a single ballgame. Once it’s stored, the information can be kept indefinitely in case it has future value.
Fueling the storage boom are new regulatory requirements, the proliferation of capacity-hogging video records, and high-speed Internet lines that let an emailer attach a dozen pictures of his or her new baby. “Storage is just at the beginning of an explosion of things to soak it up,” says Chris Stakutis, an IBM engineer and co-author of the book “Inescapable Data.”