What is the internet? It’s a question that seems to have an infinite number of answers. What does it mean to you? What do you see when you look at your browser window with all those tabs open, or when you scroll endlessly through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr posts?
For some people their Internet might be a place they go to escape from reality. For others it could be a place where they can feel safe because anonymity gives them freedom they don’t have in real life.
The Internet is just as much about what we bring into it as what comes out of it for us. So let’s take some time now to explore this vast universe of information together!
What is the Internet?
I could tell you what the internet is, but the internet can tell you better than I can. According to Google, the internet is “a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve several billion users worldwide.” The internet is an international system of computers that are interconnected which allows for sharing information.
How Big is the Internet?
The Internet has been growing at an exponential rate since the 1980s, doubling its size every two years. It is nearly reaching 2 billion websites.
The Internet is more than just web pages, however, it also includes social media posts and e-mails.
Perhaps the most basic statistic is how many people utilize the Internet. This would appear to be a good indicator of the size of the Internet, since it’s a measure of the population. Various organizations try to gauge Internet usage, including Nielsen Ratings, the Office of the CIA, and Serverwatch. The general consensus appears to be that approximately a billion individuals utilized the Internet in 2008. Among those numbers, there are about 500 million internet users who use the Internet at least once a week, making them more-or-less permanent citizens of the Internet population.
It’s possible that what most people mean when they ask about the size of the Internet is how much space it takes up. Estimating that is a difficult task, but one person recently estimated not long ago who can probably be trusted to have a decent idea. According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the data was approximately 5 million terabytes. That’s roughly 5 billion gigabytes or 500 trillion megabytes of data. According to Schmidt, Google has indexed only 200 terabytes of the remaining portion in its seven years of operation, or roughly .004 percent of the total size.
Finding reasonable numbers on these other Internet metrics, on the other hand, is difficult. People think there are somewhere between 75 and 250 million servers in the world, with a margin of error of up to a factor of five. In a single day, the Internet can have thousands of terabytes of data sent through it. This amount is so large that finding a trustworthy compilation of this data may be difficult because to the numerous PCs, servers, and nations involved.