Thursday, 13 Mar, 2008 Technology
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The Amount of Digital Information Reached 281 Exabytes (281 Billion Gigabytes)

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Digital universe A study performed by IDC and sponsored by EMC offers detailed information regarding the fast increase of digital information. The research company uses a complex formula in order to calculate the total size of the "digital world," the overall amount of digital information that is produced and replicated on the globe.

According to the company's researchers the total amount of digital information in 2007 reached 281 billion gigabytes or 281 exabytes. If divided, this information means that each person on earth provided 45GB of digital information. It is for the first time that the overall size of digital content went beyond the total storage capacity. According to IDC, by 2011, only one half of the digital world will be stored.

The experts say that the accelerated growth occurred because of the growing popularity of digital television and cameras that depend on digital storage. The biggest drivers of digital information include surveillance, social networking, and cloud computing. Images and video have the largest stake of digital storage. The experts from IDC state that today there are more than a billion of digital cameras and camera phones worldwide. From all of those cameras only 10 percent work on regular film.

Researchers also found that the amount of information about us generated automatically each day outruns the overall amount of digital information that we actively produce about ourselves. This statement refers to the fact that in future the IT sector will be highly responsible for keeping the information about users private.

"We discovered that only about half of your digital footprint is related to your individual actions - taking pictures, sending e-mails, or making digital voice calls," said IDC senior vice president, John Gantz.

"The other half is what we call the 'digital shadow' - information about you - names in financial records, names on mailing lists, web surfing histories or images taken of you by security cameras in airports or urban centers. For the first time your digital shadow is larger than the digital information you actively create about yourself," he added.

Another problem brought by the IDC research is the impact of the continuous increase of digital information on the environment. The increasing use of mobile phones and some other electronics leaves a lot of "eWaste." Power consumption in information centers also registers fast increase.

Despite the fact that the method IDC uses to estimate the overall amount of digital content includes a lot of hand-waving and features some hard-to-prove statements, the trends presented by the research seem to be defensible. Due to a continuous development of technology, which enables an easier use of information, the increasing growth of the digital universe will surely continue.

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