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How Much Stuff is on the Internet?

We’ve learned a lot about the internet by watching HBO’s Silicon Valley. This show is about a tech startup in California run by a brilliant, naïve crew. Every season, nearly every episode, is rife with technological disruptions, internet breakthroughs, and coding hacks. Although we feel better informed about the World Wide Web, we have the sense that it’s so much larger and more complex than any half-hour comedy can explain. Just how big is the World Wide Web? And how much traffic is out there?

What are the Internet’s Numbers?

How Much Stuff is on the Internet?
The internet reached the milestone of one billion websites in 2014

In September 2014, the internet reached one billion websites. Since then, the number has been increasing rapidly, constantly fluctuating as defunct sites are left to die, and new ones are born.

A staggering ninety percent of the data on the net comes online since 2016. More stats below regarding what’s new every day:

  • more than 350,000 Tweets post each minute
  • every minute, YouTube users upload one hour of new video
  • Instagram users share 95 million posts daily
  • Every second, five new Facebook profiles come online
  • Google handles over 40,000 search queries every second
  • about 18.7 billion text messages send out worldwide every day

Could the Internet be Toppled?

The internet is a global network of computers linked by cables, wireless radio connections, and satellites. Multiple servers support all of this information. It’s much more complicated than that, but the majority of us aren’t coders or architects. So in basic terms, how secure is this machine that’s so vital to our work and personal lives? Can the internet break?

Certain circumstances could indeed significantly compromise if not disable the world wide web. For example, if one of the world’s large internet exchanges became disrupted, the repercussions would be felt across the globe. These hubs are where networks from big providers come together to exchange their data. About thirty of these exchanges exist, handling vast amounts of internet traffic.

A physical act of destruction could also cripple the internet. Much of our communication depends on cables. In 2008, the accidental severance of an underwater cable line may have caused internet disruptions in some countries, including Egypt.

How Much Stuff is on the Internet?
Servers keep the internet humming.

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is yet another threat. Some fear cyber terrorists could do this type of attack. In this kind of onslaught, a massive flow of internet traffic is deliberately sent to servers, overwhelming them.

Future Internet Growth

The internet shows no signs of slowing down. Here are some projected numbers expected to be hit by 2021:

  • Overall IP traffic will increase by nearly three times
  • smartphone traffic will exceed PC traffic
  • Video Content will represent 82% of all IP traffic
  • Live video expectations are to grow 15-fold, comprising thirteen percent of net traffic

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