What Is Data Hoarding?

For those of you who have watched the popular reality show, Hoarder, seeing a friend or neighbor storing stacks of boxes with trivial items or trash may not be such a surprise. However, hoarding doesn’t only involve physical objects. There are many people who hoard digital items such as movies, comics, tv shows, songs, and applications. These people go by the name “Digital Hoarder”.

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Why Do People Hoard Data?

The digital world offers so much for the modern human. From hours of entertainment to productivity tools that let you do tons of work while you’re taking a nap. But just like everything else in life, things get old and forgotten. That stupidly funny video that made you and your friends laughed until your stomach hurts is nowhere to be found now. Even Google can’t help you recover those that are lost. And that is how a data hoarder is born.

But the fear of losing a funny video of old is not the only reason.

With digital storage being so cheap these days, having Terabytes of movies, shows, etc. is becoming cost-effective. An hour of an HD video stream from Netflix is about 3 Gigabytes. A hard drive with 4 Terabyte capacity can store roughly 1.332 hours of your favorite Netflix shows in high definition. And you only pay less than a hundred bucks for the storage. To put it another way, storing one hour of your favorite show only costs you eight cents. Why would anyone NOT store everything when the cost is negligible.

Is Digital Hoarding Bad?

If you mean mentally, then no. There’s nothing wrong about hoarding data except that it’s a telltale of a person who’s too lazy to delete old files. That said, corporations often hoard data too. After all, there’s no telling when you will need the files from the projects completed ten years ago. There may be an audit sometime in the future that will require you to dig up all the related information. It’s like that one drawer where you put all the cables you haven’t used in the last two years. You might need one of those someday. Who knows, right?

If there’s a problem with digital hoarding then it lies not on the hoarding act itself but on the retrieval part. When the information is stored in an unorganized fashion, retrieval will be a true pain.

The next problem is opening and reading the files. Let’s say you have a bunch of project documents stored in Word 97 format. Do you think you can still open, read, and edit those files in the next ten or fifteen years? When your document formats are too old so that no applications in existence can read them, those files are as good as gone.

One solution is to keep the files along with the applications required to edit manipulate them. Even then, there’s still no guarantee that newer computers and operating systems can run them.

Another solution is to convert all the files to a future-proof or universal format to guarantee accessibility to the utmost. For example, convert all documents into PDF which is arguably the most supported document format right now. Do the same thing with archives, audios, images, and videos. Pick a format or two that’s widely supported and highly unlikely will obsolete in the next decade.

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