The amount of digital information is expected to grow by 50 per cent in 2011 to hit 1.8 zettabytes, according to new figures from IDC.
The analyst firm's annual Digital Universe report, Extracting Value From Chaos, said that this would be enough to fill 58 billion 32GB Apple iPads, which lined up would be the length of the Great Wall of China.
However, IDC said that the world's data growth was beginning to slow, having fallen from 73 per cent growth in 2008 to 63 per cent during 2010.
"The data growth rate is tapering off a little but not dramatically," said IDC analyst Stephen Minton.
"There was an acceleration of data growth in 2008, and since then information is increasing each year but at a slower rate."
Nevertheless, the report forecasts that enterprises will need 10 times the number of servers they have now by 2020 to manage all the data. Minton added that staff numbers would have to rise to manage this increase.
"These are pretty big numbers, but often the more interesting story is that, with the economy in the shape it now is, enterprises cannot afford to hire enough people to manage all the data," he said.
"There is also increasing amounts of data going into the cloud, rather than into computers."
The EMC-sponsored report revealed that, while 75 per cent of information in the digital universe is generated by individuals, enterprises have liability for 80 per cent of this information at some point in its digital life.
The amount of digital content created by individuals in terms of documents, pictures and music is also less than the information being created about them.
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