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February 11, 2011

Global data estimated to total 295 Exabytes

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by Darren Allan

The amount of data which is stored worldwide has been estimated by a bunch of scientists who evidently have too much time on their hands.

As Frankie Boyle once put it, you’d half expect that in a lab somewhere, some bored white-coat is busy finding out exactly how many Fruit Pastilles it takes to choke a kestrel.

Anyway, how much data is there in the world, you want to know? According to a BBC report which highlighted a study published in the journal Science, the answer is 295 Exabytes (in 2007). A figure which might leave some of you none the wiser.

In more comprehensible terms, that’s a million Terabytes, or a billion Gigabytes, or quite a lot. The Beeb notes it’s equivalent to 1.2 billion average hard drives full of data.

This isn’t just an estimate of data held on computers worldwide, mind you, but all data held on sources including the likes of old 5 inch floppy discs, along with credit card chips, DVDs and so on.

The study also pinpointed the beginning of the “digital age” as 2002. It was in this year that global digital storage capacity first became greater than that of analogue.

Coincidentally, that was also the year the first kestrel choked on a discarded Werther’s Original on the outskirts of Great Yarmouth pleasure beach. Possibly.

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