A white paper released from IDC (http://www.idc.com/) revised the research firm's earlier estimates to show that by 2011, the amount of electronic data created and stored will grow to 10 times the 180 exabytes that existed in 2006, reflecting a compound annual growth rate of almost 60%.
By 2011, there will be 1,800 exabytes of electronic data in existence, or 1.8 zettabytes (an exabyte is equal to 1 billion gigabytes). The number of bits stored already exceeds the estimated number of stars in the universe, IDC stated. Because data is growing by a factor of 10 every five years, by 2023 the number of stored bits will surpass Avogadro's number, which is the number of carbon atoms in 12 grams, or 602,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 (6.022 x 10^23).
The study, entitled "The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe," also found that the rate at which electronic containers for that data — files, images, packets and tag contents — is growing — is 50% faster than the data itself. In the year 2011, data will be contained in more than 20 quadrillion — 20 million billion — of those containers, creating a tremendous management challenge for both businesses and consumers.
The diversity of the digital data that's producing massive growth ranges from 6GB movies on DVD to 128-bit signals from RFID tags.
Less than half of the digital data being created by individuals can be accounted for by user activities, such as photos, phone calls and e-mails. The majority of the data is made up by what IDC calls digital "shadows" — including surveillance photos, Web search histories, financial transaction journals and mailing lists.
You think a 5GB storage capacity on your Windows Live SkyDrive account is a lot? Better think again!
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