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Digital Media Changes Our Storage Cabinets

Prior to the abundance of digital cameras, mounds of pictures and negatives filled shoe boxes and plastic containers around the house. Prior to MP3 players, stacks of cassettes and CDs lined shelves. Prior to movie downloads, shelves of VHS tapes and DVDs surrounded the entertainment center. Though the previous formats still exist, households are moving away from the physical copies of their media and to digital versions. With this migration toward digital, shelving units are being replaced with larger hard drives.

Today, we estimate that the average broadband household has about 226GB of digital photos, music, and video stored on the various devices in the house. This includes all of the music ripped from the CD collection and those hours of television and movies stored on DVRs. We predict that this collection of digital media will increase to nearly 900GB by 2012, driven in large part by video downloads, managed copies of Blu-ray discs, and increasing use of DVR recording capabilities.

Protection of the physical copies typically meant that the negatives for the most cherished family photos were kept in a safety deposit box and additional copies of albums were made “just-in-case.” However, that too is changing. Our research, detailed in Home Servers and Consumer Storage, found that though respondents from 40% of broadband households show an interest in protecting their data and digital media by backing them up to another storage solution, only a small percentage of consumers are actually doing this consistently. Most frequently they are encouraged to get in the habit of backing up after losing important files. Those that are backing up their files, tend to still be doing so on optical media such as CDs which does not provide the same quality of backup as an external hard drive provides. Can you imagine our stacks of CDs or DVDs storing almost a terabyte of media? Consumers need to realize that their ability to keep their digital media in the current form indefinitely is tenuous and that they need to move toward solutions more suited to the use and safekeeping of these files.

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