According to the latest technology newsgroup postings, humankind has stored more than 295 billion gigabytes (or 295 exabytes) of data since 1986, according to a new report based on research by scientists at the University of Southern California. And it comes out to 295 exabytes- at least as of 2007.
In other words, the amount of data the world stored by 2007 is equal to 1.2 billion average hard drives.
The data doesn’t just take PCs into account, though. A total of 60 technologies, from DVDs to paper adverts and books, were included in the research. To provide a sense of scale, Dr Martin Hilbert of the University of Southern California, has been reported to state in cyber world newsgroups: ‘If we were to take all that information and store it in books, we could cover the entire area of the US or China in 13 layers of books.
The same information stored digitally on CDs would create a stack of discs that would reach beyond the moon, according to the researchers.
The researchers say humankind sent 1.9 zettabytes (1,000 exabytes) of information in 2007 through broadcast technology such as televisions and GPS, equivalent to every person in the world receiving 174 newspapers every day. For two-way communications, cell phones for instance, the 2007 total is 65 exabytes, about equal to every person on Earth relaying six newspapers worth of information per day.
The authors say we can consider 2002 the dawn of the digital age, when digital storage of information pulled ahead of analog storage. By 2007, nearly 94 percent of the world’s memory was in digital form.
To put those numbers in perspective, a zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes. An exabyte is 1,000 petabytes. A petabyte is 1,000 terabytes. A terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes. And you should know what a gigabyte is. Even with an Unlimited USENET account with constant downloading, you’d be waiting a long, long time to complete that amount of data.
Even if you did, the figure will only have increased since the ’07 cut-off date, given that the researchers reckon the storage capacity of the world’s computers doubles every month.
And you thought you were killing it with your 2 terabyte hard drive.