In 2012, the world generated and replicated about 2.8 zettabytes (ZB) of data. The "digital universe" is forecast to reach 40 ZB by 2020, up from previous estimates of just 5 ZB.
According to IDC, the data volume will have grown 50-fold in 2020 from 2010 levels. One of the most significant drivers of this growth will be machine-generated data which will grow 15x until 2020. By that time, the data created in emerging markets will exceed the data created in the developed world.
IDC used some interesting images to illustrate the sheer quantity of 40 ZB: 40 ZB is equal to 57 times the amount of all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth. If we could save all 40 ZB onto today’s Blu-ray discs, the weight of those discs would be the same as 424 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. Or, 40 ZB will represent 5,247 GB of data per person worldwide.
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