## 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.

## How the Latest Tech Can Help Meet Deadlines

It seems that it doesn’t matter what industry you work in, you’re always faced by deadlines that loom large above your head, waiting to strike. Whether you’re a journalist facing daily deadlines to get your copy written and published, or a warehouse worker tasked with creating so many of your products each day or an agency worker tasked with getting a job done before the end of the month, we’ve all got them.

If only there was some way of making things simpler, taking the stress away and helping us to relax a bit more and get the job done without the typical end of month stress. Fortunately, thanks to the developments in technology over the past decade, there is. Developers are now working on software packages designed to make the hard, laborious tasks much simpler allowing us to focus our time, effort and resources on other areas of the business, like discussions with clients and ensuring that the marketing goes as well as possible so that you can expand the company at your own pace and in the right areas.

Let’s look at one particular example. Sorting out the rota for the next few weeks can be one of the hardest task faced by any member of the management, having to deal with holidays, sickness and ensuring that the optimum number of people are in on the busiest and quietest days of the week, and covering themselves for a quiet day turning into chaos, too. The installation of shift scheduling software can help those tasked with organizing the rota to ensure that the right people are in on the right day, and that people who are booked off aren’t included in the plans so they can adjust accordingly. It’s far more efficient and professional than using a pen and paper and saves an incredible amount of time.

Cloud solutions have proven to be another fine example of helping to meet deadlines. You might be faced with one strict deadline, and get called away from the office for an important meeting. Alternatively you may have a family emergency that means you have to work from home at the worst possible time. Cloud storage, however, enables you to access all of your work files wherever you are and upload the updated versions ready for someone else to access them and put them to print, send to the relevant people or save for the finishing touches from a member of another department.

No matter whether you’re a large or small, established or fledgling business, there are now all kinds of technologies and software packages designed to make our lives easier on both a personal and professional level.

## A Possible Breakthrough in Energy Storage?

The Institute of Mechanic Engineers says that turning air into liquid may provide a solution for energy storage. At present most energy is stored in batteries, but battery production and disposal is an extremely messy and polluting affair, and so experiments are underway to look into this alternative.

One of the problems particularly with renewable energy sources is that energy is produced at times when it is not needed. The system cannot just be turned on or off, so this excess energy must be stored. Scientists believe that with improvements the liquid energy solution could be 70% efficient, less than batteries but at a much lighter cost to the environment.

To give you an idea of how the process works, it follows a number of stages:

“Wrong-time electricity” is used to take in air, remove the CO2 and water vapour, which would otherwise freeze solid.

The remaining air, mostly nitrogen, is chilled to -190C (-310F) and turns to liquid – this provides a compact storage medium that can later draw energy in the form of heat from the environment.

The liquid air is held in a giant vacuum flask until it is needed.

When demand for power rises, the liquid is warmed to ambient temperature. As it vaporizes, the expanding gas drives a turbine to produce electricity – no combustion is involved.

One particularly interesting thing about this development is that it comes out of a garage in England.

Inventor Peter Dearman in his garage lab

Peter Dearman made the discovery while looking for a way to power his car using air. I have written about these types of experiments before in my Health of the Planet series. Take a look at this video on Youtube to see Dearman at work. Real Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stuff.

The BBC also has an article in its Science and Environment section that you can read here.

One conclusion to draw is that world changing technological innovation has to start somewhere, and it is not always in a sterile lab. Sometimes it is in a garage behind a house in Hertfordshire.