What is the name of the "law" that says that data will expand to fill the available space? I tried googling it but didn't see the name. it was referred to as an instance of Parkinson's law.


1 Answer 1


This is simply an extension to Parkinson's Law, apparently dubbed

Parkinson's Law of Data

The Jargon File

“Data expands to fill the space available for storage”; buying more memory encourages the use of more memory-intensive techniques. (The original 1958 Parkinson's Law described the structural tendency of bureaucracies to make work for themselves.) It has been observed since the mid-1980s that the memory usage of evolving systems tends to double roughly once every 18 months. Fortunately, memory density available for constant dollars also tends to about double once every 18 months (see Moore's Law); unfortunately, the laws of physics guarantee that the latter cannot continue indefinitely."

  • Is that "to" a typo? Shouldn't it be "of"? Just asking.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 18:13
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    No; 'extension to' is used when there is a reasonably marked difference between the basic law etc and the obviously connected one. A connected new build rather than a resizing. 'An extension of' is pushing what's already there further; 'an extension to' involves new material (and the latter is reflected in the usage 'an extension to the hotel'). 'The General Extension to Pythagoras's Theorem' [GoGeometry is well-known to maths teachers. Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 19:58
  • Oh, OK. Is that similar to "extending a deadline to DD/MM"? Thank you, in any case, for answering my small query.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 21:20
  • I'd have to guess on that one. A deadline is punctive, a point in time: only the time before the deadline can logically be extended (and I'd expect the 'enlargement' rather than the 'new material added' metaphor here: the grace period being extended). There must be metonymy involved; a point in time can logically be put back but not extended. But "deadline was extended to" is far more idiomatic (Google searches & personal opinion) than "deadline was put back to". 'Deadline' must be equivalent here to 'interval before the deadline'. Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 23:16
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    Realms of Meaning: An Introduction to Semantics By Thomas R. Hofmann illustrates and defines the usage. 'Punctual' also carries the identical sense, but its everyday sense so swamps this that I prefer the less confusable if less common variant. Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 17:48

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