Why It’s Good to Purge Your Digital Waste

Why It’s Good to Purge Your Digital Waste

So, what is digital waste?

Digital waste is all the useless data in our data storage that lingers until we do something with it. Extra files no longer needed, old emails and chats, and old, blurry pictures you never have and will never use… all qualify as digital waste. While it’s easy to discount digital waste as an annoyance (which it certainly can be), it creates a much bigger and more serious problem.

Why is Digital Waste Such a Problem?

Let’s consider a hypothetical to highlight why digital waste is so problematic.

Let’s say we have a server farm of maybe ten servers that operate as a private cloud. Seven of these servers (or the data capacity equivalent) are in use, meaning all these servers are running. This also means these servers must be climate-controlled, outfitted with fire suppression systems, and all connected using the requisite networking infrastructure.

All of this uses energy… and that’s just one subset of a business’ IT activities. Internet searches are processed, emails are sent, and cat videos are watched when the boss isn’t looking. All of this energy translates into carbon emissions, with more energy-intensive processes generating more as more energy must be produced to support them. We already talked about private clouds, so add our collective public cloud resources to that, too.

Everything we access online is hosted on servers that need to be powered 24/7. The more data they store, the more power they draw. All of this electricity has to come from somewhere… and in many cases, it comes from processes that release massive amounts of carbon dioxide gas into the air.

So, how does digital waste factor into this?

The More Digital Waste, the More Wasted Energy

Unfortunately, storage infrastructure cannot differentiate between important and unimportant data… it just sees data, and as such, it all takes up resources. While this might not seem like the biggest deal on a micro-scale—sure, maybe you have some old company pictures saved on the server that you’ll never use again—it all builds up to compete with some countries. Digital activity already outpaces the pollution rates of countries like Norway and Switzerland and is poised to break the records set by the world’s top five most polluting countries by next year.

What Can Be Done to Reduce Digital Waste?

Many things can be done to reduce the energy expended on data storage, both on an organizational and individual level.

In terms of the organization:

  • Investing in cloud storage can reduce the amount of wasted storage space in an in-house infrastructure.
  • Adjusting the power settings on your business’ hardware helps cap energy expenditures when not in use.
  • Be diligent about deleting data no longer needed from your storage, the recycle bin, and your email inbox.
  • Try to minimize messages that don’t need to be sent.

In terms of personal changes:

  • Be more selective about the photos you save and store.
  • Activate dark mode on your devices.
  • Close applications and programs when you aren’t actively using them.
  • Deactivate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity when not in active use.

At the End of the Day, Reducing Digital Waste is a Net Gain

Reach out to White Mountain IT Services for more ways you can optimize your business’ technology use! Give us a call at (603) 889-0800 to learn how we can help.

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