Digital Storage


The speed at which technology accelerates blows my mind on a pretty regular basis. Be it comparing my beloved childhood Gameboy to the powerhouse that is my Nexus 7, or wondering how I ever lived without the constant data uplink that is my smart phone, I am regularly humbled by the tools and toys the world gives us. On my flight back to Colorado, this topic came up with more than one of my fellow passengers. After all, airports are nothing if not showrooms for the latest in greatest in in-flight entertainment devices.

This topic is far too broad for me to tackle in any comprehensive way, but today I wanted to address a single aspect of it: memory. Let’s dig right in, shall we?

The first mp3 player I owned held 16 MEGAbytes worth of songs; that’s 10-12 with an eye toward to making sure no epic power ballads were included. Today my phone, like so many of yours, has several gigabytes worth – literally hundreds of songs, and whim rules the playlist, not storage concerns. What a difference a decade makes. So why this topic, why now?

A couple reasons, really. The first was all the time spent in the airport because of the flight delay got me reflecting on how miserable that experience could have been without so many toys at my finger tips. The second was a Christmas present I brought one of my friends.

Normally I’m not one for such presents, but I found something that was just perfect, so I thought I would bring it by. The only thing was that the present wasn’t a thing, it was a collection of digital files, big ones. Now, I could have put them on my laptop and transferred them onto his network, or brought my two terabyte archival hard drive with me, but somehow that seemed to diminish the gift giving process. The point was to give him something, not to share it.

For that I needed a physical, almost disposable medium of exchange – a flash drive. While high end flash drives are still around a dollar a gig, for 32GB or less, they are even cheaper still. Its developments like this that make me understand why publishers try so hard (and fail so often) to ensure their DRM will stem the tide of endless bootlegs. Bringing over hours of content is effortless and getting easier all the time.

Just take a look at the trend. Data storage isn’t free yet, but someday soon…


For the record, I LIKE to pay for content, and WANT to do it. If you like something, then vote with your dollars. There is no surer way to get them to make more of the same. DRM will never stop the dedicated, but if a product is priced low enough, then there is no reason to try to circumvent or short circuit the system; I am perfectly happy to give Amazon $5 a pop for a digital book that looks interesting, though I draw the line at the $10 trend we have previously discussed.

Case in point of what not to do? Black Library. I love some of what good ole’ Games Workshop does, especially in the grimdark of the far future, and I am even a little understanding when they want to overcharge me for a lush hardcover game book full of amazing art, but $9 for ebook when I can get the physical copy at Barnes and Nobles for less? No thanks. As I am currently getting back into the mini mindset, and a good friend of mine has recommended a couple of these books, I would love to give them a look, but for now my only options are to wait for them to come to their senses, or fall off the torrent bandwagon; I haven’t downloaded any in quite some time, but a quick Google search shows plenty of seeds out there.

So am I the only one amazed by the limitless storage capacities of the modern era?

This entry was posted by David Winchester.

9 thoughts on “Digital Storage

  1. I am a frequent buyer, but my desire for input outweighs my relatively meager salary, so I torrent as well. Lots of obscure stuff, whims, things I’m curious about, and random wanderings. I found myself wondering if I was going to need a bigger external hard drive, and then stopped to think about what I was considering. I have two 500gb hard drives on my laptop, and a 2 terabyte network drive, and I was worried I would fill them up? It’s weird to think that I could probably fit the first couple of -years- of the entire internet’s output on what I take for granted.

    • The first hard drive I bought with my own money was a $300 520MB affair so I could play the gold box games without having to uninstall before installing the next.

      Today space is (blissfully) a non-issue.

  2. I think the switch to a lot of streaming/cloud content is both solving the DRM issue (okay, probably just helping it a bit), and making the demand for digital storage a bit lower, which helps lower prices. I know I’d rather have a Netflix subscription than spend both the time and storage space torrenting all of the movies I can. And I’d rather upload files to Dropbox than buy a flash drive to carry around – unless I’m somewhere without a decent internet connection. Fortunately, those places are becoming more and more rare. The future is a wonderful place to be.

  3. I’m something of a storage fiend myself. Multiple redundant externals. File caches on separate computers (some of which exist only to store files). And all of it to protect my precious digital content. I also buy an average of 2 TB a month in external storage for my work (and it all gets used up). I love that the price of storage is coming down, because I value local copies over cloud storage (and I’m not alone in that. Something about the cognitive gap between “the cloud” and a sense of permanence…). That said, I looove me some dropbox for moving files between devices–especially “i” devices, that otherwise force you into iTunes.

    As far as DRM goes, that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms. One I’m sure we’ll tackle soon.

    • I use cloud storage, but just like you it is still largely a means to transport files, not to store them for regular use. I will start to trust it more as the technology matures, I suppose.

      • My issue with the cloud isn’t whether or not it will still be there.. most of those guys have got redundancy out the wazoo. No, my issue is privacy. The data I am most interested in preserving also happens to be the data I want the least people to see. That is completely taken out of my hands when utilizing the cloud.

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