The amount of digital information created and copied is set to grow six-fold year on year until 2010, according to new research by IDC.
The research has for the first time measured the amounts and types of digital information created and copied in the world and who is generating it.
The report, Expanding Digital Universe: A Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2010, was commissioned by EMC and carried out by IDC.
IDC has projected a six-fold annual growth in information from 2006 to 2010 and predicted that nearly 70pc of the digital universe will be generated by individuals.
However, 85pc of overall content will be the responsibility of organisations in terms of security, privacy, reliability and compliance.
The 2006 digital universe was 161 billion gigabytes (161 exabytes) in size, the research found.
“This ever-growing mass of information is putting a considerable strain on the IT infrastructures we have in place today,” said Mark Lewis, EMC executive vice-president and chief development officer. “This explosive growth will change the way organisations and IT professionals do their jobs, and the way we consumers use information.
“Given that 85pc of the information created and copied will be the responsibility of organisations and businesses, we must take steps as an industry to ensure we develop flexible, reliable and secure information infrastructures to handle the deluge.”
Images comprise the largest component of the digital universe, the research found, with images captured by more than one billion devices in the world, including digital cameras, camera phones and medical scanners, being put online.
The number of email boxes has grown from 253 million in 1998 to nearly 1.6 billion in 2006, during which the number of emails sent grew three times faster than the number of people emailing.
IDC predicts thee will be 250 million IM (instant messaging) accounts by 2010.
More than 60pc of internet users today have access to broadband
circuits, whether at home, work or school.
“The incredible growth and sheer amount of the different types of information being generated from so many different places represents more than just a worldwide information explosion of unprecedented scale,” said John Gantz, chief research officer and senior vice-president, IDC. “It represents an entire shift in how information has moved from analogue form, where it was finite, to digital form, where it’s infinite.
“From a technology perspective, organisations will need to employ ever-more sophisticated techniques to transport, store, secure and replicate the additional information that is being generated every day.”
By Niall Byrne