Global data storage is estimated to be at about 600 exabytes today, according to a 20-year study published in the journal Science and displayed in graphic form by Mozy. Storage is measured in gigabytes, then terabytes, then petabytes and then exabytes. One exabyte is a billion gigabytes-- a mind-boggling thought.
Most of that data, some 52%, is stored on hard disk drives, followed by optical storage devices at 28% and on digital tapes at 11%. A mix of other storage formats account for the remaining 9% of data storage.
According to the Mozy, the largest single storage facility for all this stuff is in Chicago, in a 1.1-million- sq-ft facility. Atlanta and Florida boast the second and third largest data storage sites and Wales in the U.K. houses more data in one place than any other country in Great Britain or Europe. What is more, data storage has been doubling about ever three years.
BBC’s Jon Stewart interviewed Dr Martin Hilbert of the University of Southern California on the subject of all this information storage. "There have been other revolutions before." Dr Hilbert told the BBC's Science in Action program. “The car changed society completely, or electricity [sic]. Every 40, 50 or 60 years something grows faster than anything else, and right now it's information.
“Basically, what you can do with information is transmit it through space, and we call that communication,” Hilbert added. “You can transmit it through time; we call that storage. Or you can transform it, manipulate it, change the meaning of it, and we call that computation."