How Much Does File Storage Really Cost?

IT pros across multiple industries share one common struggle – trying to get a handle on file storage. Even small businesses are finding it difficult to manage the mountain of files stored on various systems, networks, and devices. In most cases, the sheer volume of data is the root cause of all the hassle.

The Digital Galaxy Is Getting Bigger

Just how much data are we cranking out? Ohh, just a measly 2.5 quintillion bytes a day. Included in that not so modest figure is our Internet activity. Every minute, we are firing off:
  • 216,000 Instagram posts
  • 277,000 tweets
  • 204 million emails.
Research firm IDC projects that by 2020, the world will generate 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes) of data per year. This massive growth is attributed to a number of factors, including the proliferation of mobile devices and digital entertainment.The everyday Joe has gone from content consumer to content producer. This has played a huge role in the digital data explosion and rising storage cost. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies mean that our personal lives (all those pictures of babies and cats) are blending into our work lives. Gartner showed that around 40% of US enterprise employees are bringing their own devices to work.

Unstructured Data in the Enterprise

So how much of that data are we actually using, and how valuable is it? The rise of big data has brought unstructured data out of hiding. Unstructured data comprises of emails, photos, PDFs, and other files that aren’t neatly tucked away in a database. This type of data usually goes stale in 90 days and is rarely accessed by employees.IT researchers estimated that unstructured data makes up at least 80 percent of all enterprise data. This is expected to grow by 500 percent each year heading into the next decade. What’s more, it accounts for over 90 percent of the entire digital universe

The Deceptive Cost of File Storage

Today, better hardware is capable of storing more data in smaller packages. For example, today's hard disk drive capacity outduels the big clunky hard drive IBM introduced back in 1956 by more than a million times. But while storage hardware is becoming more affordable, the cost of file storage, with all the associated costs, continues to be a burden.
According to one infographic, the average cost of storing a single TB of file data is $3,351 a year. That cost potentially skyrockets because of supporting technologies.The file sharing services we steadily depend on for on the go access is costing companies an average of $450 per user. Many organizations implement WAN acceleration technologies to optimize bandwidth and improve network speed when transferring files to remote locations. Those organizations are paying an average of $8,000 per location for such luxuries. With these sort of figures eating into IT budgets, it's no wonder storage costs are the number one headache in the data center environment, according to a Tech Pro Research study.The cost of file storage will vary based on what a company pays for in vendor services, hardware and other IT resources. Even then, those costs are merely a surface reflection. The true cost isn't revealed until breaking down all the challenges. Among them, the indirect costs incurred from just trying to keep it under control. Research hints that ongoing maintenance is the biggest challenge IT teams face in managing file storage. It may drive the highest costs as well. And while the costs of data storage are rising, surveys show that IT budgets tend to remain flat.

An Intelligent Backup Helps Lower File Storage Cost

File storage might be simple and cheap for the typical PC user - he has a couple hundred gigs worth of documents, pictures, and videos on their hard drive. Things are a lot more costly and complicated in an enterprise. A business has significantly more files to contend with, and needs to make sure those files are safe. Backup, Recovery and Archive is the most important storage technology segment  among organizations. Backups are even more popular than SAN solutions, virtualization, and cloud computing. 
With sound data management practices and solid vendor support, businesses can make sure file storage cost doesn't get out of hand. Sound Data Management - Protecting mission-critical data is a must. Any business continuity plan should start with the question: "What is really important, and what could I afford to lose?" Reports show only about 15% of data collected and stored by an organization is mission-critical. All data is not equal.Smart Backup Analytics - The good news is, technology has come a long way. Smart analytics now allow us to differentiate between types of data and how we store it. Knowing what's in your data drawers automatically is a great help.Tiered Retention- Not everything needs to be replicated, encrypted and archived forever. Tiered retention means that business owners can now save on costs, by choosing what to backup and how often. Recovery point objectives don't need to be the same for all types of data.Intelligent Recovery - In an ideal world, you would be able to recover quickly from data loss without causing business disruption. And while the bulk of data is not mission-critical, it helps to have a sound backup plan that includes both types of data, with the ability for intelligent recovery.In addition to price, features, and usability, vendor reliability is one of the most important factors in choosing the right backup solution.