The BBC has reported on a study
published in the journal Science, which has calculated the total amount of data stored in 2007. The figure the researchers worked out is 295 exabytes, which is equivalent to 295 billion gigabytes or 295 million terabytes.
The data doesn't just take PCs into account, though. A total of 60 technologies, from DVDs to paper adverts and books, were included in the research. To provide a sense of scale, Dr Martin Hilbert of the University of Southern California, told the BBC's Science in Action: 'If we were to take all that information and store it in books, we could cover the entire area of the US or China in 13 layers of books.'
Terabytes come after gigabytes, petabytes come after terabytes and exabytes come after that, so we're talking about a colossal amount of data here. The study not only demonstrates a huge increase in the amount of data stored in the last decade, but also points out that 75 per cent of information was stored on an analogue format such as video cassettes in 2000, but that 94 per cent of it was digital by 2007.
The article also states that 'the fastest growing area of information manipulation has been computation. During the two decades the survey covers, global computing capacity increased by 58 per cent per year.'
With the average size of a hard disk increasing by around 50 times since then (the average size is 1TB now as opposed to around 20GB in 2000), the PC has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to these figures. Of course, since 2007, the average hard disk capacity has doubled again, so the total amount of data will now be far in excess of 300 exabytes.
What's the total storage capacity of your PC? What fills your hard disks apart from software? Are you a lean SSD speed freak or multi-terabyte hoarder? Let us know in the forums