This is not an easy question to answer. At the rate the internet is growing, if I say a figure now, it may not be true a few seconds later.
Further, there are several methods of estimating at how large the internet is. Ever heard of petabyte or yottabyte? For someone who is not into the complex mathematics of the internet, even understanding the terms may be difficult, or even hard to imagine.
This is an attempt to answer the question in a way that ordinary folks can understand. Letâ??s begin with defining internet. Internet is a short form for internetwork. Wikipedia defines it as, â??a global system of interconnectedÂ computer networksÂ that use the standardÂ Internet protocol suiteÂ (often called TCP/IP, although not all applications use TCP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is aÂ network of networksÂ that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linkedÂ hypertextÂ documents of theÂ World Wide WebÂ (WWW) and theÂ infrastructureÂ to support email.â?
Simply, you have one computer connecting to a group, and the group connecting to other groups. So can we know how big the internet is by counting the number of people using the internet? Internetworldstats.com released its latest figures on this last December 31, 2011 and according to its figures, there 2.3 billion people who are online out of the 6.9 billion people on Earth. That is 32.7 % of Earthâ??s population or 1 in 3 Earthlings use the internet. There is approximately 7.9 new internet user every second worldwide.
However, we cannot limit the size of the internet based on its users alone. We know for a fact that the flow of information is a great factor in terms of quantifying the size of the internet. And just how much information is out there? Health-information-technology.net states that there are about 1 trillion pages on the internet. If each web page is printed, with each page being 8.5â? x 11,â? health-information-technology estimates that, â??Together, all those printed sheets would paper the entire 2.85 million rentable square feet of space in the Empire State Building a full 2.1 million times! That’s equivalent to covering the entire state of Alaska nearly 2,000 times, which is also enough to constitute a new solar system with 3 earths and 40 moons!â?
If you try to quantify the internet in terms of the data being generated, the figures are quite staggering. According to Cisco, â??the world is on pace to generate 1.3 zettabytes of data by 2015. Thatâ??s four times the amount created in 2011 and itâ??s the equivalent of â??more than 38 million DVDs streamed in an hour.â?
With the rapid growth of data being generated in the internet, Cisco is now telling us what comes after the terabyte, which are the petabyte (1,000 terabytes), Exabyte (1,000 petabytes), zettabyte (1,000 exabytes), yottabyte (1,000 zetabytes).
So how big is the internet? Itâ??s gigantically big!