The size of the Internet – and the human brain

How many human brains would it take to store the Internet?

Last September I asked if the human brain were a hard drive how much data could it hold?

I concluded that approximately 300 exabytes (or 300 million terabytes) of data can be stored in the memory of the average person. Interesting stuff right?

Now I know how much computer data the human brain can potentially hold, I want to know how many people’s brains would be needed to store the Internet.

To do this I need to know how big the Internet is. That can’t be too hard to find out, right?

It sounds like a simple question, but it’s almost like asking how big is the Universe!

Eric Schmidt

In 2005, Executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, famously wrote regarding the size of the Internet:

“A study that was done last year indicated roughly five million terabytes. How much is indexable, searchable today? Current estimate: about 170 terabytes.”

So in 2004, the Internet was estimated to be 5 exobytes (or 5,120,000,000,000,000,000 bytes).

The Journal Science

In early 2011, the journal Science calculated that the amount of data in the world in 2007 was equivalent to around 300 exabytes. That’s a lot of data, and most would have been stored in such a way that it was accessible via the Internet – whether publicly accessible or not.

So in 2007, the average memory capacity of just one person, could have stored all the virtual data in the world. Technology has some catching up to do. Mother Nature is walking all over it!

The Impossible Question

In 2013, the size of the Internet is unknown. Without mass global collaboration, I don’t think we will ever know how big it is. The problem is defining what is the Internet and what isn’t. Is a businesses intranet which is accessible from external locations (so an extranet) part of the Internet? Arguably yes, it is.

A map of the known and indexed Internet, developed by Ruslan Enikeev using Alexa rank

I could try and work out how many sites there are, and then times this by the average site size. However what’s the average size of a website? YouTube is petabytes in size, whilst my personal website is just kilobytes. How do you average that out?

See the red circle? That is pointing at Technology Bloggers! Yes we are on the Internet map.

The Internet is now too big to try and quantify, so I can’t determine it’s size. My best chance is a rough estimate.

How Big Is The Internet?

What is the size of the Internet in 2013? Or to put it another way, how many bytes is the Internet? Well, if in 2004 Google had indexed around 170 terabytes of an estimated 500 million terabyte net, then it had indexed around 0.00000034% of the web at that time.

On Google’s how search works feature, the company boasts how their index is well over 100,000,000 gigabytes. That’s 100,000 terabytes or 100 petabytes. Assuming that Google is getting slightly better at finding and indexing things, and therefore has now indexed around 0.000001% of the web (meaning it’s indexed three times more of the web as a percentage than it had in 2004) then 0.000001% of the web would be 100 petabytes.

100 petabytes times 1,000,000 is equal to 100 zettabytes, meaning 1% of the net is equal to around 100 zettabytes. Times 100 zettabytes by 100 and you get 10 yottabytes, which is (by my calculations) equivalent to the size of the web.

So the Internet is 10 yottabytes! Or 10,000,000,000,000 (ten thousand billion) terabytes.

How Many People Would It Take Memorise The Internet?

If the web is equivalent to 10 yottabytes (or 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) and the memory capacity of a person is 0.0003 yottabytes, (0.3 zettabytes) then currently, in 2013, it would take around 33,333 people to store the Internet – in their heads.

A Human Internet

The population of earth is currently 7.09 billion. So if there was a human Internet, whereby all people on earth were connected, how much data could we all hold?

The calculation: 0.0003 yottabytes x 7,090,000,000 = 2,127,000 yottabytes.

A yottabyte is currently the biggest officially recognised unit of data, however the next step (which isn’t currently recognised) is a brontobyte. So if mankind was to max-out its memory, we could store 2,127 brontobytes of data.

I estimated the Internet would take up a tiny 0.00047% of humanities memory capacity.

The conclusion of my post on how much data the human brain can hold was that we won’t ever be able to technically match the amazing feats that nature has achieved. Have I changed my mind? Not really, no.

Are bionic suits a thing of fantasy or the future?

This is Technology Bloggers 100th article!
Well done and thank you to our 16 fantastic writers who have made this possible. Also thanks to all our readers and commenters for your support.
Lets aim for 1,000 now!
🙂

So, to the article! Everyone has heard of Iron Man – well I would think they have. The idea that such a suit could become a reality, is well… fiction. Until now!

A technology company called Raytheon has developed an exoskeleton, designed to effectively act as a bionic/robotic suit. The suit is designed to perfectly mimic and aid human actions, so the wearer can feel normal whilst performing tasks that they could never achieve without the aid of the suit.

One way of thinking about how it feels is to think of the power steering in a car. Without the power steering it can be really tough to turn the wheel, activate the power steering however and the car still feels normal and responds in the same way, the difference is, minimal effort is required to do a rather demanding task.

Performing everyday tasks is easy when wearing a bionic exoskeleton!

The suite has the potential to be fitted with some sort of amour plating, to protect the individual form attack – assuming it were to be used in a war-zone, and not in industry! D3O could actually make it a pretty invincible suit!

The suite can help the wearer lift up to 17 times what they could normally life, making tasks 17 times easier! A massive positive is that it doesn’t restrict the wearers range of motion, meaning that they can more freely and normally.

There is a problem though. The suit has to be attached to an external power source, as it guzzles power like crazy. Current batteries are either too weak, or too dangerous. For example, lithium-ion batteries can’t be strapped to a human, as they are prone to explosion if they get damaged!

A lack of power makes the suit extremely heavy, meaning that every movement becomes more difficult. This means that if there is a loss of power, the suit is hindering, rather than helping the occupant.

Aside from the lack of power, the main difference between the suit Raytheon have developed and Tony Stark’s suit is that Tony Stark’s can fly. Stark’s suit is also loaded with flairs, missiles and weapons galore, and has Stark’s supercomputer Jarvis running the interface. Raytheon’s suit is still in the early stages though, and no doubt will soon catch up 😉

Tony Stark’s collection of Iron Man suits