eDiscovery Daily Blog

At Litigation Time, the Cost of Data Storage May Not Be As Low As You Think: eDiscovery Best Practices

One of my favorite all-time graphics that we’ve posted on the blog (from one of our very first posts) is this ad from the early 1980s for a 10 MB disk drive – for $3,398!  That’s MB (megabytes), not GB (gigabytes) or TB (terabytes).  These days, the cost per GB for data storage is pennies on the dollar, which is a big reason why the total amount of data being captured and stored by industry doubles every 1.2 years.  But, at litigation time, all that data can cost you – big.

When I checked on prices for external hard drives back in 2010 (not network drives, which are still more expensive), prices for a 2 TB external drive at Best Buy were as low as $140 (roughly 7 cents per GB).  Now, they’re as low as $81.99 (roughly 4.1 cents per GB).  And, these days, you can go bigger – a 5 TB drive for as low as $129.99 (roughly 2.6 cents per GB).  I promise that I don’t have a side job at Best Buy and am not trying to sell you hard drives (even from the back of a van).

No wonder organizations are storing more and more data and managing Big Data in organizations has become such a challenge!

Because organizations are storing so much data (and in more diverse places than ever before), information governance within those organizations has become vitally important in keeping that data as manageable as possible.  And, when litigation or regulatory requests hit, the ability to quickly search and cull potentially responsive data is more important than ever.

Back in 2010, I illustrated how each additional GB that has to be reviewed can cost as much as $16,650 (even with fairly inexpensive contract reviewers).  And, that doesn’t even take into consideration the costs to identify, preserve, collect, and produce each additional GB.  Of course, that was before Da Silva Moore and several other cases that ushered in the era of technology assisted review (even though more cases are still not using it than are using it).  Regardless, that statistic illustrates how the cost of data storage may not be as low as you think at litigation time – each GB could cost hundreds or even thousands to manage (even in the era of eDiscovery automation and falling prices for eDiscovery software and services).

Equating the early 1980’s ad above to GB, that equates to about $330,000 per GB!  But, if you go all the way back to 1950, the cost of a 5 MB drive from IBM was $50,000, which equates to about $10 million per GB!  Check out this interactive chart of hard drive prices from 1950-2010, courtesy of That Data Dude (yes, that really is the name of the site) where you can click on different years and see how the price per GB has dropped over the years.  It’s way cool!

So, what do you think?  Do you track GB metrics for your cases?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.