Sure, we can put a number on it, like 1.8 zettabytes being created and replicated (as in copied to DVDs and shared in the cloud) this year alone — a number that doubles every two years, according to a recent study by IDCand EMC. But how much is that, really? Not only is data itself ethereal and hard to visualize, but the numbers are so gargantuan that they quickly become too abstract to grasp.
One way to put it all into perspective is to hypothetically plug all that data into physical objects we all recognize. That 1.8 zettabytes of data, for example, would require 57.5 billion 32 GB iPads to store. How much is that? About $34.4 trillion worth. That’s equivalent to the GDP of the United States, Japan, China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy combined. And that’s how much data we’ll create and store just this year.