What just happened? Seagate has announced that since being founded in 1979, it has shipped three zettabytes of hard drive storage capacity—the first data storage company to reach the milestone. Illustrating drive technology's progression is the fact Seagate took 36 years to ship 1 zettabyte in total, then less than four years to hit 2 zettabytes, followed by just two more years to pass 3 zettabytes.

Three zettabytes is, of course, a lot of drive space: one 1ZB is 1,000 exabytes; 1EB is 1,000 petabytes; 1PB is 1,000 terabytes. Seagate notes that the amount of storage it has shipped could hold 7.5 trillion MP3 songs, around 60 billion video games, and 30 billion 4K movies (check out the infographic below).

If you wonder what three zettabytes would look like in drive form, it's the equivalent of 300 million 10TB hard drives. Packing it all onto Seagate's 147mm Exos 10TB HDDs and placing them end-to-end, they would reach 27,402 miles—more than enough to circle the entire earth.

The amount of storage being required by the world is increasing exponentially. It's expected to reach 175 zettabytes by 2025, 58 times all the storage capacity Seagate has shipped. The company notes that more data is created in a single hour today than in an entire year just two decades ago.

Today's modern world requires data storage capacities that were unimaginable in the past. Cloud storage services, massive data centers, and scientific research produce petabytes of data. Smart cities, for example, generate 2.5PB per day, while autonomous vehicles are responsible for up 32TB per day. With more of the world going digital, demand will keep rising, which is why Seagate aims to have a 100TB hard drive by 2030.

Masthead image: Piotr Zajda