May 28, 2022

New Estimate and It's a Big Number: "Business Information Consumption: 9,570,000,000,000,000,000,000 Bytes per Year"

From a University of California San Diego Announcement:

Three scientists at UC San Diego have rigorously estimated the annual amount of business-related information processed by the world’s computer servers in terms that Guttenberg and Galileo would have appreciated: the digital equivalent of a 5.6-billion-mile-high stack of books from Earth to Neptune and back to Earth, repeated about 20 times a year.

The study estimated that enterprise server workloads are doubling about every two years, which means that by 2024 the world’s enterprise servers will annually process the digital equivalent of a stack of books extending more than 4.37 light-years to Alpha Centauri, our closest neighboring star system in the Milky Way Galaxy. (Each book is assumed to be 4.8 centimeters thick and contain 2.5 megabytes of information.)

“Most of this information is incredibly transient: it is created, used, and discarded in a few seconds without ever being seen by a person,” said Roger Bohn, one of the report’s co-authors and a professor of technology management at UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. “It’s the underwater base of the iceberg that runs the world that we see.”

The authors of the report titled “How Much Information?: 2010 Report on Enterprise Server Information” are Bohn, James E. Short, a research scientist at UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and research director of the HMI? project, and Chaitanya K. Baru, a distinguished scientist at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

The paper follows an earlier report on information consumption by U.S. households as part of The How Much Information? project. The effort is designed to conduct a census of the world’s information in 2008 and onward, and is supported by AT&T, Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel, LSI, Oracle and Seagate Technology. Early support was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Read the Complete Announcement (Includes Table: World Server Information and a Useful Chart Comparison Chart)

Direct to: “How Much Information” Web Site and Full Text Reports

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.