The costs of alternative methods of storing data have changed significantly as electronic systems have evolved. Moreover, we expect the average level of costs to continue falling over the next decade as technical change continues. Electronic systems are becoming closer substitutes for traditional ways of storing information in libraries. This issue's column examines the storage capacity of a wide array of representative storage devices in terms of the number of billions of characters or bytes of information—that is, gigabytes of storage—and each system's costs. The cost per gigabyte (GB) of storage varies by several orders of magnitude in ways that have important implications for the evolution of libraries over the next decade.
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