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May 19, 2020

Global DataSphere to Hit 59 Zettabytes in 2020 Alone, IDC Projects

Oliver Peckham

A large hard drive for a personal computer might have a terabyte of storage capacity. Now imagine filling one of those with data every day for around 161 million years, and you’ll have an idea how much data will be “created, captured, copied and consumed” in 2020 alone, according to market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

This month, IDC released its updated Global DataSphere forecast, predicting more than 59 zettabytes of data creation and consumption within the year and a 26% compound growth rate in data growth through 2024. This massive amount of data – nearly double the data used in 2018 – will be enough that the next three years of data creation and consumption will eclipse that of the previous 30 years. These projections are roughly in line with IDC’s estimates from late 2018, which forecasted ~50 zettabytes of data use in 2020 and 175 zettabytes of data use by 2025. 

Perhaps most notably, the forecast shows a dramatic uptick in data consumption due to the boom in work-from-home activity caused by COVID-19. (This uptick is not shared by data creation, which has been slightly stymied by the pandemic.) IDC expects the gap between content creation and consumption to widen over the next few years, moving from a 1:9 ratio to a 1:10 ratio by 2024.

“Growth of the Global DataSphere is driven more by the data that we consume and analyze than what we create,” said David Reinsel, senior vice president for the Global DataSphere program. “Obviously, data must be created before it can be analyzed, but the recursion rate of data – the rate at which the same data is processed again – continues to grow exponentially driving the ‘unique’ DataSphere down to 10% of the total DataSphere.”

IDC expects that productivity data will quickly expand, with total enterprise data use gaining 4% on consumer data use (which stands at around 50%). Furthermore, IDC projects drastic increases in metadata and sensor data, potentially surpassing all other data types in the near future.

Overall, 40% of the DataSphere is expected to be attributable to entertainment data (like Netflix), with productivity tools also driving an increase in video data use.

“We live in an increasingly video-enabled and video-assisted world, and consume an increasing amount of entertainment video each year – these are key factors driving the growth of the Global DataSphere,” said John Rydning, research vice president for the Global DataSphere program. “At the same time, we are steadily making more productive use of the video data we capture, which is contributing to the growth of productivity data in the DataSphere.”

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