Thursday, February 20

Ryan's e-mail storage policy saved Commonwealth less than 30 cents

Former Acting AG Bill Ryan's decision to delete e-mails older than six months old to save on storage costs is ludicrous

Ray Blehar

When the story broke that former Acting Attorney General Bill Ryan had changed the AG e-mail storage policy from five years to six months, he cited cost savings as one of the reasons for the change.  Ryan added he was not protecting anybody and that the change had nothing to do with the Sandusky investigation.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the office's former chief technology officer confirmed Ryan's statement.  Jim Ignalzo, 66, who is retired, stated "it was a cost and a management issue" and that managers kept up to 10,000 e-mails on their computers. Ignalzo said "it could have been a million," in reference to the number of e-mails deleted.

That said, it's clear that neither Mr. Ignalzo nor Mr. Ryan has shopped at a Best Buy lately.  

If they had, they would know that they could have stored those million or so deleted e-mails on an 32 gigabyte (Gb) flash drive for about $20.  However, that's being far too extravagant when hard drive storage is so cheap.

Numerous studies have been done on the declining cost of data storage, and not surprisingly, they confirm storage costs follow a trend similar to Moore's Law (which applies to integrated circuit costs).  A similar law, referred to as Kryder's Law is used for hard disk storage cost per unit of information.  See chart below:

While the chart above ends in 2009 and stops at .07/Gb, a later study revealed that the average cost per Gb was about .01/Gb in 2010.

The average e-mail uses about 30 kilobytes (kb) of storage.  A normal text e-mail of a few paragraphs takes up about 16kb.  A longer e-mail of 37 pages might use about 75kb.  Given that mix 30kb per e-mail sounds about right for an average e-mail.  Note: There are 1,048,576 kb in a Gb.  

Let's do the math:

1,048,576 kb / 30kb in an email = 34,862 e-mails in a Gb

1 million deleted emails/34,862 emails per Gb  = 28.64 Gb storage

Cost savings of deleting 1 million e-mails = $0.29

Much like Governor Corbett, when pressed about the policy, Ryan resorted to the argument that convicting Sandusky on 45 of 48 counts was really what was important and "he doesn't like it at all" that Kane is investigating the prior administration's investigation,

Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster County, said Ryan's action "raises more questions than it answers."

It just gets better and better.



  1. I bet Moulton spends way more than 30 cents to recover all those emails.

  2. Ray,
    Once again, thank you for your outstanding analysis. The pattern of corruption continues to become public knowledge regarding the Corbett/Ryan/Kelly OAG administration of justice. According to public court filings, Fina and Brown admitted to destroying witness and proffer notes in the Republican "Computergate" trial proceedings. Similar destruction of notes occurred in the Stetler trial. Corbett will do anything for a conviction and a free headline.

    This is a big deal. The Corbett MO is now before the US Federal Court, state Supreme Court and state Superior Court. So far, the state judiciary has protected the Corbett OAG administration.

    The destruction of internal emails, witness and proffer notes should be a major concern for all citizens of PA. After 32 years of Republican control, pre-Kane OAG has demonstrated a total lack of respect for the law. Someday these cases will be taught in Law School as examples of abuse of power. The question is: Can Kane defend Corbett and Company in court and conduct a proper investigation of him at the same time? Time will tell.

    Please keep up the good work. The future of PA is stake.