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Scientists track world's data at 295 exabytes

295 exabytes would require rather a lot of hard drives
295 exabytes would require rather a lot of hard drives

In this information age, we already know there's a lot of data hanging around – but scientists have now quantified this, saying that until 2007 there were 295 exabytes of data.

An exabyte is a billion gigabytes and 295 of them equates to more data than it's worth comprehending.

The figure will only have increased since the '07 cut-off date, given that the researchers reckon the storage capacity of the world's computers doubles every month.

Information overload

Researchers Martin Hilbert and Priscila Lopez of the University of Southern California came up with the figure by estimating the amount of information held in books, PCs, DVDs, micro chips, X-ray films and paper adverts, among other things,

The survey looked at the years between 1986 and 2007, and pinpoints 2002 as the year that worldwide digital storage became greater than analog storage.

According to the survey, 94 per cent of memory was in digital form by 2007 but even these great reams of digital memory are dwarfed by the information stored in the DNA of a single human.