The Environmental Cost of Data Storage [Infographic]


In the modern digital age, data centers have become an integral part of our lives. They store, process, and transmit the vast amounts of unstructured data that we rely on for many aspects of our day – from the documents we generate and use during work, to the media we consume at home. However, the environmental impact of data centers is a growing concern. In this infographic, we explore the environmental cost of data storage.

The Environmental Cost of Data Storage Infographic by DryvIQ

The Electricity Demand of Data Centers

Data centers consume a significant amount of electricity, and that demand is growing. In 2022, data centers accounted for 2% of the global electricity demand. In the United States alone, it is predicted that data centers will consume 6% of the total electricity demand by 2026. Worldwide, data centers are expected to consume 1,000 Terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity by 2026, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of Japan.

The Water Required for Cooling

Water is a critical resource for data centers, especially for cooling purposes. A Google data center, for instance, requires an average of 450,000 gallons of water daily for cooling. In 2022, Google’s data centers used 4.3 billion gallons of water. This is comparable to the volume of water needed to maintain 29 golf courses in the southwestern U.S. each year.

The Carbon Footprint of Data Centers

The carbon footprint of data centers is also a significant concern. Globally, data centers are estimated to produce 1.5% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, which is on par with the airline industry. Storing and managing just 100 gigabytes of data creates a carbon footprint of 0.2 tons of Co2.

Reducing the Environmental Cost of Data Storage

By reevaluating how we manage and store data, we can take the first step toward sustainable data management. By storing less data—or moving more data to cold storage—we can reduce our overall contribution to the energy consumption and CO2 emissions these data centers are responsible for.

Krystal Elliott
Krystal Elliott