Digital Disaster Zone: Are Your Employees Working in the Digital Equivalent of a Tornado-Stricken Library of Congress?


by Peter Wilkerson, Search & Discovery Practice Area Manager

A number of years ago a tornado struck near a university library.  The storm came close enough to break windows and as the wind began to swirl, books were knocked off their shelves, ripped apart and strewn across the building.  It was a nightmare.  Nobody could find anything.
What most companies don’t realize is they have more data in their storage devices than was in that one library.
On my laptop I have about 800 megabytes of PDF files I use for different phases of my consulting work.  The PDF’s are just part of the library of information I use to help solve clients’ problems.  If these files were printed out they would be roughly equivalent to a pickup truck filled with books.

Imagine searching through the bed of a truck looking for a specific page in a book.

Now imagine you paying your employees to go through all the books in a large academic library trying to find what they need, without knowing where to look, and not knowing whether they’ve found the right pages or latest information.  You are asking your employees to search for data in the digital equivalent of a tornado-stricken library.

Use the chart below to get a sense of just how much data you are asking your employees to work with.

Without an effective search solution, you are asking your users to work in a Digital Disaster Zone.
  • 1 megabyte – a small novel
  • 5 megabytes – the complete works of William Shakespeare
  • 100 megabytes – about 3 feet of shelved books
  • 1 gigabyte – a pickup truck filled with books
  • 2 gigabytes – about 66 feet of shelved books
  • 50 gigabytes – a floor (5,000 sq. ft) of books
  • 1 terabyte – all the X-ray films in a large technological hospital
  • 2 terabytes – an academic research library
  • 10 terabytes – the print collection of the US Library of Congress
  • 2 petabytes – All US Academic Libraries
  • 200 petabytes – all the printed material in the world
Are your employees working in a digital disaster zone? Continue the conversation in the comment section below!

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