Hoarding has extended its cluttered arm into cyberspace. Users are clinging on to all their ideas, images, emails, videos and experiences. It’s a problem that’s not readily visible, but can clutter home space and work space all the same. USB Comedy spoofed the problem in an A&E-style video depicting a hoarder who refused to downsize his 145 external drives that housed data such as emoticons and flying toaster screensavers.
In the past, users had to periodically clean house and discard old files to keep their systems running at full speed. Now that processing systems are faster and data storage is simple, the urgency to discard old data is gone.
Data hoarding extends to the corporate world and spans industries. Regulatory supervisors have moved beyond wanting a paper trail and now demand emails, texts and supporting data when conducting reviews or audits. In industries already laden with red tape, employees simply collect everything and ask questions later. The result: the exponential growth of stored data. A recent study by research firm International Data Corporation estimates that data volumes will nearly double every two years between today and 2020, reaching 40,000 exabytes, or 40 trillion gigabytes, in seven years. Moreover, the IDC study shows that only 3 percent of data today is tagged, and a mere 0.5 percent is analyzed. That’s a whole lot of data just sitting there.
Why It’s a Problem
The growing stacks of personal data and business data have given rise to innovative data storage. Even though data storage is more accessible and more compact, information hoarding can drain resources and become very costly. The issue is not unlike physical hoarding that clutters hallways and strips rooms of their functionality. Uncontrolled data clutters, sprawls and becomes a mess.
Companies don’t realize the cost involved with mounds of data until they pay a consultant hourly to find a required piece of information. Stored data that sits unattended for indefinite spans of time also opens the possibility of data security breaches, which has proved costly, if not detrimental, to corporations.
Even cloud sharing applications, which make applications easier to access and upgrade, require management. Cloud sharing also presents other challenges for finding information, because the data does not reside on the user’s computer.
An Answer to Data Hoarding
Given the fact that data hoarding can spin out of control in a multitude of scenarios, this growing issue requires attention.
The first step is keeping inventory and tracking the source of any type of data. Corporations should keep current on new data organizational tools that work in sync with corporate regulatory thresholds. Companies such as Rackspace have began addressing the growing problem by adding new features to their platforms that allow easier data management.
These same companies often work closely data management consultants. Enterprises should consider hiring experienced outside consultants who know the regulation of a company’s industry and can go on record authorizing the disposition of data with retention schedules.
You don’t have to be alone in your data hoarding and you don’t have to wait for the A&E intervention crew to knock on your door. Be proactive.