A technically-nontechnical guide to the internet


Before we talk about the size of the internet, let’s go back to the start and talk about what the internet really is. If you’re reading this article then you already know a thing or two about the internet. If you were a millennium baby or born in the 2000s, then chances are you have always been exposed to the internet and have never actually thought about its size and origin. When people think of the internet, many think it exists in the ‘cloud’, a term made famous by corporate giants like Google, Amazon and Apple who introduced their online storage and backup solutions to their consumers.

The internet has become such a necessity to the modern world that it often feels hard to imagine a world without it. Being connected is now the way of the future, allowing people to be up-to-date with the world around them in real-time.

So we have talked about the internet, but let’s break it down and talk about what the internet actually is. In the 1950s, the United States government commissioned research to develop a robust network which allowed computers to communicate with each other. The first network named ARPANET, was developed in 1969 and was the first sharing-network to use the internet protocol suite.

The internet protocol suite or commonly known as TCP/IP, stands for Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. TCP/IP controls interconnectivity between computers on a network, specifying how data should be addressed, transmitted, routed and received.

TCP/IP allows billions of devices around the world to be interconnected using the internet and is fundamental to its existence. The World Wide Web (the ‘www’ at the start of a websites URL) is probably a familiar term to you, however many are unaware that the internet and World Wide Web are two different things. The World Wide Web is the main application used by the public to use on the internet. To put that into perspective, you can think of the internet as a number of layers. The World Wide Web is one of those layers which the public use. There are other protocols on the net which allow many tasks such as communication (Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol) and data transfer (File-Transfer-Protocol).

As of today, there are approximately 3.28 billion internet users. Nearly half of the world’s population is connected to the internet and as time goes on, more and more people will join. In 1993, there were just 14 million internet users out of a world population of 5.5 billion. The first billion internet users was reached in 2005, the second in 2010 and the third in 2014.  These statistics show how quickly the internet has been adopted.

Dark web compared to google servers

So now we know a little bit about the birth of the internet, we can now focus on how big the internet actually is. As of 2014, Google had indexed (collected) 200 Terabytes of data. For those that aren’t familiar with the terabyte, it is the equivalent to 100’000 hours of video or 62 million photos. Even though these numbers seem big, it is estimated that Google has just 0.004% of the total internet.

So you’re probably wondering how Google, which is the most popular search engine in the world, is only worth 0.004% of the internet’s size. Well the answer to that brings me back to what I said earlier, about the internet consisting of layers. The indexed part of the World Wide Web is called the surface web. Here traditional search engines like Google and Yahoo index the websites so that they can be searched for by users. The non-indexed or deep web is the area of the internet that the traditional search engines can’t find. It is estimated that the deep web is 7.5 petabytes in size and consists of over 300’000 websites. The surface web is like the tip of an iceberg, with the deep web forming the rest of the iceberg under water.

The internet is one of humanities greatest inventions. Its creation has allowed people to share information and stay connected. Vast highways of information flow through a network of data servers, computers, mobiles and tablets. The interconnectivity between people has become such an essential part of life that the internet, which used to be a luxury, is now a necessity.

Here are some cool facts about the internet

Total number of websites: 974,013,126

Number of Tweets sent this year: 3,071,469,000

Google searches this year: 22,708,853,000

Facebook active users: 1,569,042,000

Internet traffic this year: 13,946,434,000 Gb

(As of the date of this posting)

This article was originally published on Flavible.

Saad Bhatty

Blogger, journalist, geologist and Tech-enthusiast. There is always something to write about!

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