There is no doubt that we live in the information age, every day all of us generate a large amount of data, both for personal consumption and to share with others. And the reality is that the number does not seem to decrease in the coming years. Which leads us to wonder: How many terabytes do we consume annually?
Individually measuring the amount of information generated and consumed per year is difficult, since each one of us uses our devices differently and has different needs. However, one of the most worrying issues at an environmental level is the effects of the amount of information we consume. Not only because of the resources involved in storing it, but also due to the fact that accessing it and moving it from one place to another involves energy consumption that has clear consequences overall.
How much digital information do we consume annually?
To understand the amount of information we consume annually, we have to move not to the terabyte level, but much higher. To what degree? Well, if a tera is 1012bytes of information in total, then we should talk about zettabytes when we talk about the global volume or 1018.
And how much is this amount? In 2022, 94 ZB were consumed in total, it is expected that the number will grow to 118 for this year 2023 and the figure will increase to 149 in 2024, so that in three years the volume of annual information that we consume will have doubled. This trend does not seem to be going back one iota in the following years.
Although not everyone living in the world generates such information, the data means that each of the inhabitants of the earth have generated 12 TB of information per year. In other words, in each of the months of the past year, any of us when browsing the internet, playing games, watching movies by streaming, have consumed 1 TB of information per month. Whether we have accessed by fiber optic, satellite internet or mobile connection.
Of course, this figure is taken from making a simple division of the amount of information that we all consumed annually during the past year divided by the number of inhabitants of the earth. So there are people who will have consumed several teras per month using their computer.
Who are the top data consumers?
In any case, it must be clarified that it is not the users who generate this amount of data, but large companies and especially public bodies around the world. Which are in the process of digitizing a large part of their documentation in order to preserve it and have developed different types of services electronically, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, whose effects are still lasting in several countries. Finally, if you are concerned about climate change, then rest assured, using your computer, console or mobile phone does not even account for 3% of CO₂ emissions per year. Another thing is where the energy comes from to make said infrastructure work.