With easier access to the internet and cloud services, the need for increasing physical storage might stop soon.

Those born before the world of cell phones; remember how you could memorise a dozen phone numbers and not flinch before dialling the number on a phone. I bet you don’t remember more than a couple now! Well, not that there is a need to, considering we have all the information available at the touch of a button, or should I say, the touch of a screen? The storage capacity is growing at exponential rates. Five hundred and seventy new websites are created every minute. Fifty terabytes of data are uploaded every day. Thirty million new blog posts are uploaded every month. And, all this data is stored in humungous data centres that we can access using several devices.

Let’s go back in past for a moment. In the early 1980s, computers would use floppy disks as memory. You’d have to use several floppies to load a programme onto the system. Memorex 650, the first read-write floppy disk drive was introduced in 1972. It had a storage capacity of 175 KB. With time, the storage capacity kept increasing and the size of the devices kept reducing. With the advent of in-built storage in computers, the floppies became a mode of portable memory.

CDs significantly increased storage capacity from a few hundred KB to a few hundred MB. With increasing demand, CDs transformed into DVDs (discs with a larger storage capacity), which introduced us to the term GB. We could now store over 1000 songs, several movies or a horde of text files on a single disk. The in-built hard disks had been introduced and were also going through similar transformations, increasing memory from KB to MB to GB in a matter of few years. We have now moved in a new era with the unit TB (terabytes) doing the rounds. And, new age computers have started getting rid of CD drives, facilitating the use of flash drives/tiny memory cards.

What’s next? Will we be continuing on this journey of expanding the storage space? What if the trend was to head downwards, back to low in-built memories? Let’s look at how this phenomenon is changing the storage capacity in our day-to-day devices.

We are changing the way we look at the concept of storage in the next generation devices. The Chromebook, a laptop that comes with a negligible in-built storage and a few memory slots, flash drives, etc. is already around the corner. It functions through a robust network and utilises resources on the Internet.

Not too far back in the past, we would have to dial-in to the Internet. It was a costly and a very slow affair. Today, with light blazing internet speeds, Wi-Fi, Data cards and 3G connectivity, internet is accessible anytime and anywhere. Leveraging this network capability, we can use our device to access resources on the Internet, rather than having those resources on our personal storage. This brings us to how we are changing the way we look at storage. In the next-generation view of storage, we would not be thinking about terms such as MB, GB or TB, simply because there will be no need for quantifying storage. Storage will just depend on our requirement.

Music on the cloud

Let me share another example. Today, a typical way of listening to music is to download songs to a device such as a music player, phone, computer etc. Amazon has an offering called the Amazon Cloud Player, which is basically a software application (free to download). Using this player, you could upload your songs on the Amazon cloud and access it from any device capable of accessing the Internet. You can even have common storage for all your devices. There are concerns about data security and data centre outages, which impact the cloud services users, but there are efforts being made to answer all those concerns.

It is being predicted that more and more people will prefer keeping their data on a cloud rather than in a personal computer, which is more prone to virus attacks and hacking. It is time to move beyond thinking of expanding storage and leave this worry to enterprise businesses.

The author is Sr. Marketing Communications Specialist, Hewlett-Packard.

It is being predicted that more and more people will prefer keeping their data on a cloud rather than in a personal computer, which is more prone to virus attacks and hacking.