Data Storage - Statistics & Facts

Data storage is the technological means by which digital data is retained and archived for use by a computer or other related device. An integral and continually growing element within the information technology (IT) sector, worldwide spending on data storage is expected to reach over 50 billion U.S. dollars by 2019.


Broadly, data storage is comprised of primary storage ("main memory") and secondary storage ("auxiliary storage"), although tertiary storage ("nearline or cloud storage") is a growing segment. Primary storage allows for the short-term storage of data. Information is retained for immediate use, directly accessible by the CPU, until the main device is reset or turned off. The primary memory of a computer is called “random access memory” (RAM), with the two most commonly used forms of modern RAM are static RAM (SRAM) and dynamic RAM (DRAM). The global DRAM market is projected to reach 63 billion U.S. dollars by 2020 and, for the time being, Samsung stands as the largest manufacturer of DRAM in terms of revenues.

Secondary storage, either in the form of hard drives (HDD), solid states drives (SSD), flash drives, or other longer-term storage devices, record and hold data indefinitely, even when the main device is unpowered. In 2015, over 400 million HDD units were shipped, while worldwide shipments of SSDs amounted to more than 100 million units that same year.

In addition to local data storage, there is a growing demand for data storage that is portable and not reliant on local storage capacity. One technology fulfilling this need is cloud storage, hosted services delivered over the internet. With over 2 billion forecasted cloud users worldwide by 2020, such services enable users and enterprises to store data in third-party data centers, which can then be accessed without building additional data storage into a particular device. Some of the most popular cloud storage service providers among small businesses in the United States include: Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive.

Finally, not all data needs to be immediately accessible. Some requires secure, long-term storage solutions, whether for regulatory reasons or due to the value that the data can provide through content analysis at a later date. This market for information archival is growing along with the rest of the data storage market. As at 2015, the global market for information archiving was worth an estimated 4.3 billion U.S. dollars.

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