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Study estimates 5,200GB of data for every human being on Earth by 2020

The amount of data per human being on the planet is expected to rapidly increase over the next decade, a new report says.

The amount of data per human being on the planet is expected to rapidly increase over the next decade, a new report says.

Just a few short years ago, terabyte hard drives were considered huge – especially to those who remember when their computers came with less than 100GB of storage. So, when a new Digital Universe study says that by the year 2020 there will be 5,200GB of data for every one person on the planet, it's clear exactly how much things have and will continue to change.

A recent Computerworld article tries to explain the magnitude of this figure, estimating it "to be 57 times the amount of all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth."

Anyone who has been to the beach and spent the next few weeks finding more sand than they thought possible in their hair, clothes and other belongings gets the picture. Companies the world over are converting their old paper record to digital formats and abandoning the use of hard copies in the future. Between the business world and social media alone, the amount of content generated on a daily basis is staggering.

"So far, however, only a tiny fraction of the data being produced has been explored for its value through the use of data analytics," the article says. "IDC estimates that by 2020, as much as 33 [percent] of all data will contain information that might be valuable if analyzed."

Managing data is becoming as important for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) looking to set themselves apart from the competition as managing hardware solutions. SMB IT support has to account for traditional IT assets as well as ways to optimize access to and use of data analytics in ever-changing markets.