According to a new study, at the rate all of us are creating digital content, we may exceed the capacity of places to store it.
The report, assembled by the technology research firm IDC, sought to account for all the ones and zeros that make up photos, videos, e-mails, Web pages, instant messages, phone calls and other digital content cascading through our world today. The researchers assumed that an average digital file gets replicated three times.
Add it all up and IDC determined that the world generated 161 billion gigabytes – 161 exabytes – of digital information last year.
That total was exaggerated somewhat since the researchers included material that was reproduced but not stored. For example, a digital TV file was counted every time it was transmitted to a screen.
If you exclude this non-stored data, the total is “only” 40 exabytes.
While the IDC people estimate the world had 185 exabytes of storage space in 2006, the amount of digital content is growing faster than the capacity to archive it.
However, that brings up an even larger larger problem, that of securing, finding, and recovering the bits in this ever-expanding blob of information.
So, a cynic (who, me?) might have another question in all this: how much of that data is actually worth storing in the first place?
But then I guess the value of data, like art, is in the eye of the beholder.