There are so many options for free digital storage packages: Dropbox, Sync, Google Drive, Outlook...
But free for you ≠ no cost.
Who is paying those costs, and why? The likelihood in most cases is that free storage is a loss-making product. The companies that offer them are assuming that enough of us will upgrade to get more space. (Conspiracy alert: these products are also unlikely to be free forever. They'll get us hooked, and then - WHAM!)
So what are the actual costs of storing data?
1. Hardware cost of running a data centre
I don't know anything about running a data centre! But I'll hazard a guess that servers, batteries, generators, air conditioning/another cooling systems, fire suppression systems don't come cheap. And there would be both initial set-up and ongoing equipment maintenance costs.
2. But The Cloud, though... ☁
Nope, sorry! - all roads lead to a data centre eventually. All of the above still applies.
3. Labour costs
Engineers, technicians, security people... To make sure your data is secure, accessible and usable, data centres need all kinds of expertise.
4. Energy costs
Keeping the whole show on the road is energy intensive. Did I already mention servers, batteries, air conditioning...? Companies are taking steps to improve efficiency - and making good progress. But even in the best case scenario the whole set-up is far from cheap.
5. Environmental cost
This level of energy consumption comes with an enormous environmental impact. This article from 2017 claims that "the ICT sector including data centres generates up to 2% of the global CO2 emissions". For reference, that is a percentage similar to that generated by the aviation sector.
And another thing:
While digital storage is getting cheaper, the amount people are actually paying for storage is rising. This is because the volume of data we are keeping is increasing at a rate that far outstrips any savings from decreasing costs.
So the moral of the story is:
- don't keep rubbish
- definitely don't keep multiple copies of rubbish
- avoid keeping your own version of stuff if you will be able to find it again (especially if it will be updated in future)
- declutter regularly; make sure you are only making this investment in things you actually care about.
Because even if storing your data is free for you, other people are paying for it, and the environment is too.
What do you think?
Are you currently storing more than you need to in the cloud?
I am certainly guilty of keeping stuff, and telling myself I'll go through it eventually. If I've convinced you to reduce your cloud storage, then you might appreciate this article on how to declutter your digital stuff.
And if you enjoyed this article, then why not sign up to get a monthly email with all my new content. I will also send you my FREE How To Start Your Digital Archive workbook. As always, feel free to get in touch over twitter - @ArchiveRobin!
Until next week, get deleting!