Disk drives will still store more than half of the world’s data in 2024

Update: Media share information added and StorageSphere difference from DataSphere added.

Disk drives will store 54 per cent of the world’s data in 2024, down from 65 per cent in 2019. So says IDC, which has trimmed its 59 per cent forecast from 2018.

The tech research firm thinks core data centres (on-premises and public cloud) will hold 60 per cent of the world’s data in 2024, edge devices will account for less than 10 per cent and endpoint devices will hold about 30 per cent.

The 2024 data storage capacity forecast is revealed in IDC’s latest Global StorageSphere report. IDC analysts estimate the installed base of storage capacity worldwide will grow 16.6 per cent this year to 6.8 zettabytes (ZB). And they reckon the installed base will grow 17.8 per cent CAGR between 2019 and 2024. Our maths says this means an installed base of 11.23ZB in 2024 and 6.06ZB will be stored on disk drives.

John Rydning, IDC’s Research VP, issued a quote: “The volume of data stored in the Global StorageSphere is doubling approximately every four years. While the covid-19 pandemic will hamper economic growth and IT spending, it will have little impact on the expansion of the Global StorageSphere as consumers and organisations are likely to extend the useful life of existing storage capacity to keep up with the demand for storing more data, especially near term.”

Data storage types

IDC looks at storage across six media types: HDDs, SSDs, tape, non-volatile memory – NAND, non-volatile memory – Other, and optical media. A chart from its 2018 study, sponsored by Seagate, shows the share trends from 2010 to 2025 across the six kinds of media:

Update: Rydning supplied us with media share numbers for 2018 and 2024 to provide an indication of how they will change;

  • HDD – 2018 – 65%, 2024 – 54%
  • Tape – 2018 – 14%, 2024 – 18%
  • Other (NAND, et al) – 2018 – 21%, 2024 – 28%

We charted them;

Why is tape increasing its share of the installed base? Rydning told us: “Tape is increasingly being used for archiving data rather than for backups, which increases the length of time tape cartridges are retained before being replaced, thus it stays in the installed base longer.”

StorageSphere and DataSphere

The Global StorageSphere measures the worldwide installed base of storage capacity, and how much of this capacity is utilised or available each year. IDC predicts that the share of utilised storage in the Global StorageSphere installed base is expected to climb seven per cent in 2019 to 67.5 per cent in 2024.

Update: We should be aware that IDC’s DataShere and StorageSphere are different. Rydning clarified the difference: ” IDC’s Global DataSphere is a measure of the amount of data created each year.  The Global StorageSphere is a measure of the installed base of storage capacity, and the amount of data stored each year.  Some folks tend to use DataSphere metrics as an indicator of demand for storage.  The two metrics are definitely related,  but it can be misleading to show the growth of the DataSphere as a proxy for the demand for storage capacity.”