By Lina Martinez

In the mid-nineties, it wasn’t unheard of to pay $800 to upgrade the memory in your PC. That $800 might represent taking the internal memory from 8 megabytes (yes megabytes) to 16MB. At this time a 750MB hard drive was considered very large and cost about another $800. By the early 2000’s a 256MB memory stick was a good deal at $90. It was so great to be able to cart around some document files and a few MP3 files, that it was worth every penny. Throughout this entire period a backup solution was necessary in order to protect sensitive files. In the 90’s, companies spent a fortune for tape drives or slow CD writable solutions. If you had accounting files, they were backed up regularly and taken out of the office. Memory sticks were a much less expensive and easy solution as long as you remembered to use them.

In 2016, a 64GB memory stick can be had on Amazon for $14.99. If a computer doesn’t come with a 1 terabyte hard drive, you might be getting a raw deal. Even a $300 Best Buy special laptop will have 1TB and at least 4GB of internal memory.

Memory and storage are cheap. Really, really cheap. Capacities keep going up and the cost of each GB of storage or memory keeps going down.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

The problems associated with backing up files, sharing photos and preserving data all changed with the advent of the cloud. Enter the big guys, Amazon, Google, Apple, Drop Box and Microsoft with their cloud storage offerings. The practice of offering a base package of free storage and then charging for more is soon to be gone as each of these companies is frantically competing to secure users for their cloud storage. Storage is becoming so inexpensive to offer that they will eventually give it away in order to secure other consumer business.

There is no doubt that it is amazing to be able to backup and access critical files from anywhere. If your hard drive dies or your laptop is destroyed or stolen, you are covered. When the option first came about, it was worth a premium to the old backup solutions. Now Google Drive gives 15GB of storage for free, 100GB for $1.99 a month and 1 terabyte for $10.00 a month (down from $49.99 at one time).

Amazon now offers unlimited pictures and 5GB of video and files for $11.99 a year. For $59.99 you can have unlimited everything. Furthermore, the $11.99 plan is free for Prime subscribers. It is a selling point to bring customers into the Prime / Amazon ecosystem and keep them there.

Microsoft is running behind in its offerings but will no doubt get aggressive soon as its OneDrive is crucial to its Microsoft Office sales.

Customers using a company’s cloud service are very sticky. It is a pain to migrate multiple gigabytes of files and data to another service, so once customers are part of a company’s cloud storage they have a tendency to stay and accept other offerings from the company. Customer acquisition has costs associated with it. Usually high costs. The ability to retain customers and encourage their continued interaction with a company’s offerings can certainly be worth storage that costs next to nothing. It is a small price to pay in order to entice use of other integrated offerings.

The battle for customers is ongoing and the price of this one offering continues to drop. Look for storage space to keep going up as price keeps falling. It is almost a certainty that free and unlimited is on the way. As the cost of deploying a terabyte of storage continues to drop, look for each of the companies in the cloud storage space to get closer and closer to zero.

Soon, your hard drive won’t even be a factor.

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Lina Martinez pretty much writes for every zenruption section at this point. We love it. She can find a story that needs to be covered anytime. Cool. We fear what will happen to her creative mind if she ever starts dating. Remind us to buy her a drink this weekend.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license