1. February 2024
Matthias Wagener

Part 3:
GREEN DATA – Data Storage
– Send It!

Store It!

Data, data, data! Our daily lives, both personal and professional, are characterized by data – invisible, inaudible (at least most of the time, unless a device needs a fan to reduce the heat generated by computing), and yet irrevocably important to countless tasks in our lives. From this sheer flood of bits and bytes, we now turn to the aspect of data storage: Where can it be stored safely, where can it be accessed, and where can it be stored as sustainably as possible?

Storage and backup used to mean magnetic tape, floppy disks, CDs, and hard drives. RAM and ROM were used in my own device – my (Matthias’) first computer, an Apple Macintosh SE, had 4 MB of RAM and a whopping 40 MB hard drive. This was in the early 90s of the last century!

It was even more frugal: Apollo 11 landed on the moon 54 years ago. And it did so using an IBM computer with only 4 kilobytes of RAM. With good compression, you can potentially store up to 40 kilobytes of uncompressed data, the equivalent of about 20 pages of text.

These sizes are unthinkable in everyday data usage today, despite all the compression techniques.

By 2023, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will have an average storage size of 128GB to 512GB, depending on device type, manufacturer, and price. Flagship models offer larger storage capacities, while entry-level models tend to have smaller storage sizes.

Since the first iPhone in 2007, the average storage size has evolved from just 4GB or 8GB to several hundred gigabytes, depending on user needs.
A nice statistic from Statista today calculates the amount of digital data generated/replicated annually worldwide from 2010 to 2022 and forecasts to 2027 – in zettabytes (a unit of measurement for storage capacity and stands for 1,0000,0000,0000,0000,0000,0000,0000 bytes or one billion terrabytes…).

These changes reflect the increasing need for storage space for today’s high-resolution photos and videos, applications, games and other multimedia content. And storage capacities are expected to continue to increase in the future to meet user demands.

Sync It!

So what do we do with all that media (full disclosure: my media library says I have 9,841 photos and 4,088 videos stored as of today) and other data – so that we can “keep” it safe and not lose it – for example, if our device ever breaks down?

The answer sounds simple: we synchronize our devices in a cloud.
There is much less need for local storage, for example for backups – but especially for collaborative work or simply to share pictures with someone: a link to the storage location, done! For pictures and videos, this means that the data has to be “synchronized” if we want to watch the video of last year’s Christmas dinner again – but the data is only created if we really want to watch a snapshot or a real-life recording again …

Send It!

Of course, we have already given some thought to the topic of DATA: one result of our working groups in the VAST GREEN sustainability initiative is the GREEN DATA Guide!

“Data” is a topic that we have to deal with again and again in our daily work and cooperation: How do we get what kind of data from which customer for which project in which form and size? Where is it stored, by whom and how? How do we find what we need? What can be removed or deleted to free up storage space?

Digital minimalism – or as we call it: “data hygiene” – is a good thing: avoiding duplicate data & deleting unnecessary files saves tons of storage space and therefore resources and money. Especially when it comes to media such as images or videos, data accumulates due to the many snapshots and camera pans… let’s remember: just because it’s possible it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good.

Data Hygene It!

Here it comes: some more ideas on how to bring some much-needed “data hygiene” into our digital everyday lives:

  • Use cloud providers for data that needs to remain accessible. This is more secure and flexible than local, external hard drives.
  • Organization helps with searching and finding: Use a smart folder structure and file naming – and share it with customers/partners.
  • Back up only the data you need
    Use download links via the cloud to make large attachments available
  • Use tools/programs to “clean” the computer (e.g. Clean my Mac)
  • If no tool is used, clear the system cache regularly
  • When sending data, use Wi-Fi instead of cellular data