Why offline data storage has climate benefits

The business landscape is becoming more digital and more data storage oriented than ever before. Companies of all sizes are increasingly using big data to improve decision-making, gain valuable insights and maintain a competitive edge.

While Big Data offers many advantages to companies, it has some environmental disadvantages. Data storage technology can harm the environment and negatively impact the climate. Offline storage media is a type of storage that generates climate benefits, allowing users who store large amounts of data to be environmentally responsible.

Data centers are becoming increasingly popular for businesses, but professionals should take a closer look at their environmental footprint. Whether on premises or in the cloud, data storage and IT systems consume a lot of electricity.

Data centers and hardware, high energy consumers

Data centers are one of the most energy consuming buildings. They account for about 2% of total energy use in the United States, according to the US Department of Energy. As more data centers emerge to support business operations, this number will continue to grow.

Of course, many power grids simply cannot keep up with demand as the amount of power required for data storage skyrockets. Many of these grids are equipped with outdated technologies, and while various grid modernization efforts are underway, it will take years to upgrade the grids enough to meet the growing demand for power.

In addition to data centers, storage hardware is also energy intensive. Therefore, companies must identify energy efficient storage facilities or devices to manage their data.

The environmental impacts of increased energy use

The accelerated adoption of emerging technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and 5G is straining today’s power grids and negatively impacting the environment. Some of the climate-related challenges that accompany increased energy consumption include air pollution, thermal and water pollution, and solid waste disposal.

Greenhouse gases are an inevitable by-product of energy generation and consumption and are major contributors to global warming and climate change. Offline storage, also known as removable or offline backup storage, is a valuable tool for businesses and consumers alike to reduce their environmental impact. Think USB or external hard drives, the most common offline storage devices.

With all the possible sources where data can reside, it is becoming less common for businesses or consumers to store their data on removable storage devices. Major tech giants are even moving away from external storage options. For example, modern Mac computers don’t have USB ports, so it doesn’t make much sense for users to store files on their outdated flash drives.

Magnetic tape, an ecological promise for data storage

Modern hard drives are not only reaching their capacity limits, but also harming the environment. An older and less used energy storage solution that has proven to be highly energy efficient is magnetic tape. According to an article in IEEE Spectrum, a leading engineering magazine, magnetic tape is likely to be the data storage solution of the future.

Much of the world’s data today is still stored on magnetic tape. For example, large film projects, banks, insurance, national archives and oil exploration still use magnetic tape for storage purposes. Even data from basic science experiments is recorded on tape.

Magnetic tape is a more sustainable form of data storage for businesses, and tape itself is constantly improving. The first tape system, the IBM model 726, held just 1.1 megabytes of data. Now, the average modern tape cartridge can store 15 terabytes, equivalent to 15,000 gigabytes.

Tape does not offer fast access speeds like hard disks or external drives, but it is much better for the environment in terms of power consumption. After all data is written to tape, the cartridge sits idle in a robotic library, consuming no power.

Tape is a viable alternative storage solution compared to data centers, which consume energy constantly. The tape is also safe and very reliable. Storage is more affordable than other data storage options, so companies don’t have to break the bank to pay for data centers or warehouses.

Conclusions about data storage

Offline storage media devices are generally much better for the environment because they are not connected to any network or system, which means they don’t consume energy unnecessarily.

In this age of technology and Big Data, companies want to use the most affordable data storage options, and tape, as well as other offline storage options, offer reliability, security, and affordability. They are the most sustainable options for businesses.


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