How Much Data Is on the Internet?

March 27, 2020

Every day, we are generating over 2.5 quintillion or 2.5 exabytes of data. This number is also increasing, with estimates that by 2025, 463 exabytes of data will be created each day. While not all of this data is ever put onto the Internet at one time, much of this is expected to make its way onto the Internet at least for a moment.

To help us visualize this amount of data, think about a byte as being as big as a United States Quarter. A quarter has a diameter of 0.955 inches, therefore having a surface area of pi * radius squared which is about 0.716 square inches. Therefore, 2.5 exabytes is equal to 2.5 quintillion quarters (or about 625 quadrillion US dollars). If you lay a quarter flat, like the image below, you can fit 182 quarters per square foot. This means that 2.5 quintillion quarters will cover the State of Texas a little under 1,834.5 times, and this amount of data is being generated every day on the Internet.

Image source: Newsitech

How is all of this data stored?

All of this data is stored between Hard Drives, Magnetic Tapes, and Solid State Drives. Each of these drives have a different maximum capacity for storage. Hard Drives currently have a maximum capacity of 16Tb (3.5” drive), Magnetic Tape Drives hold 12Tb native and 30Tb compressed, and Solid State Drives can hold up to 15.3Tb (2.5” drive).

Assuming we are storing all of the data that we generate per day on the 16Tb drives, it would take 156,250 drives. That many would take up about 2156.576 cubic feet of space. This would only fill up an Olympic swimming pool about 2.4434%, not including the necessary components like motherboard, cables, processor, and RAM.

Measuring the Internet

While these numbers are mostly estimates, definitive information on how much data we are actually producing is hard to know (since a large part of the Internet is hidden, which may include server log files and other hidden information). We can estimate based upon what we do know about the Internet.

According to Live-Counter, the size of the Internet doubles roughly every two years. We also know that the amount of data on the Internet was 3.7 Zettabytes or 3,700 exabytes in 2013. Assuming the data on the Internet has doubled every two years neither faster nor slower, we are looking at an amazing 44.4 Zettabytes of data on the Internet. Which if we are still using 16Tb 3.5 inch drives for our example, that would fill up 433.94 Olympic swimming pools.

With this astounding amount of data on the Internet how much will you add today?


About the author

Gregory Manley

Gregory Manley is a sophomore at Colorado School of Mines where he is majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Mining Engineering. He is the owner of iTech News and a contributor for Section’s Engineering Education Content Program. His management of iTech News has led him to work with many brands on writing technology focus articles.

This article was contributed by a student member of Section's Engineering Education Program. Please report any errors or innaccuracies to enged@section.io.