What Is Data Proliferation?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 12 April 2014
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"Data proliferation" is an umbrella term concerned with the large number of files and amount of data stored by entities such as governments and businesses. The massive amount of data coming in daily means these entities need more space and hardware, but data proliferation is moving faster than computer advancements as of 2011. It does not matter what type of information is stored — whether it is structured or unstructured; all that matters is that computer memory is being taken up. Storing all this data can be difficult, leading to extra costs. Another problem with data proliferation is that the network on which the data is stored and all associated programs tend to slow down.

The problem of data proliferation is not one that readily concerns consumers and average computer users. While average computer users have required more memory over time, computers have been able to advance at a rate to satisfy these needs. When it comes to businesses, governments and other entities collecting massive data on a daily basis, however, the problem of data proliferation may manifest.


If an average computer user needs more computer memory, he typically just gets a larger hard drive. When a large entity needs more memory, it typically must get more servers. At a normal rate, this should not present any problems, but many large entities in 2011 are storing increasing amounts of data at rates that outpace technology, and a massive number of servers may be needed to hold everything the entity needs to store. This is because computer technology is not yet able to make a device capable of holding all the information, which means a large entity must continue buying and using more and more hardware.

Some data terms or problems only concern one type of information. When it comes to data proliferation, however, it does not matter what type of data are involved. As long as computer memory is taken up at a rapid rate, then data proliferation becomes a problem.

One of the many problems with data proliferation is cost. Aside from the cost of extra storage hardware, there also are physical storage and human resources costs. The servers must be placed somewhere and people must be employed to run the servers, resulting in costs that theoretically could become too much for an entity to sustain and lead to severely decreased profits. Another problem concerns network speed, because the clogging of data may lead programs to move much slower, meaning employees can do less work during a workday.


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