Right now consumers worldwide own, store or vaguely recognize a total of 329 exabytes of data stored on PCs, smartphones, tablets, hard disk drives, external storage devices and cloud-based storage services, according to Gartner's estimates.
How to waste money, storage and space in the clouds
That's not the same as a giant corporation holding 329 exabytes of data. Corporations pay for their storage, whether it's in the cloud or not.
They also actually care (sometimes) about the quality of the data in those files, how many of them are duplicates or obsolete or corrupt or have the potential to become evidence in really expensive lawsuits.
So corporations will occasionally delete a file, limit the number of lottabytes employees are allowed to store, or move big chunks of those files off hard drives, servers and clouds and onto nice, cheap DVD or tape storage.
Consumers just put files "up" in the cloud and leave them there on the assumption they'll eventually find a use for a video of someone's dog lip-syncing Who Let The Dogs Out, and will need to access it using whatever device they have on hand, brushing aside the objections of every single person within earshot who is asking not to be subjected to that particular video again because every single one of them have their own copies, also up in the cloud, also duped from old user accounts they can no longer find.
By 2016, Gartner predicts with hardly a quaver of fear (or disgust) in its voice, that only 64 percent of all consumer data will be in any kind of on-premise storage.
In 2011, 93 percent of all consumer data was stored in actual objects under the consumer's control, occupying the consumer's own personal space, and forcing consumers to buy, organize and keep track of all the devices and media on which they stored all their data. True, all that storing and organizing prompts many consumers to wish there was one place they could put it all where they could just search rather than have to look around the real world for the device, flash drive or DVD with the video they want.
That should have tipped the rest of us off to the danger, rather than having to wait for Gartner to point it out.
Of course, we didn't notice. We were too busy taking bad photos of our cats or stuffing our DropBox with pictures of the kids (now graduating high school) as toddlers sticking Cheerios to their faces to amuse us (before we got too busy posting pictures online that we kind of lost track of that particular kid).
Smothering the future in congealed grease
Wasting storage space isn't as big a sin as most, of course. You can always delete a file to make more room and re-use the same space on the disk.