More Digital Bits in the World than Stars in the Universe

Stars.jpgWe’re really not sure why people spend time developing these kinds of stats, but we’re happy to exploit them when they do.

EMC and IDC have put out a joint study revealing that there are more bits of data in the digital universe than there are stars in the actual universe. And according to the study, the number of bits is growing at a rate of about 60% per year.


Here are the key facts, copied and pasted directly from the press release for your edification:

– At 281 billion gigabytes (281 exabytes), the digital universe in 2007 was 10% bigger than originally estimated

– With a compound annual growth rate of almost 60%, the digital universe is growing faster and is projected to be nearly 1.8 zettabytes (1,800 exabytes) in 2011, a 10-fold increase over the next five years

– Your “Digital Shadow” – that is, all the digital information generated about the average person on a daily basis – now surpasses the amount of digital information individuals actively create themselves


EMC also had this to add:

In 2007, in ANZ alone, we created 4,600 billion gigabytes of data — that’s the equivalent of creating a pile of books to the moon more than 130 times.


It should be noted that Wikipedia disagrees with EMC’s assessment. Not on the number of bits, but the number of stars. According to Wikipedia there is an estimated 7×10^22 stars in the universe. Given an exabyte is (apparently) 10^18 bytes, it seems that EMCs math is a bit off. Or am I missing something?

In any case, what did we learn from this? Well I learnt that a zettabyte is 1000 exabytes, and that it’s a real word, not a made up one like “zillion”. Sextillion is also a real word. Who knew?

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