Published On: March 26th, 2020Categories: Data GuideBy 3.9 min read

How much data is on the internet? The Big Data Facts Update 2020

In 2018 we had a look at some Big Data, specifically how much data is on the internet. We gathered stats on how many people around the world were online and what they were actually using the internet for. We found some rather big and quite surprising numbers.

Do you think much will have changed?

How many people are online?

Let’s start by looking if internet usage has changed since the end of 2017. By the end of 2019 there was around 4.6 billion internet users around the world, compared to 3.8 billion in June 2017. This is getting closer to two thirds of the world’s population being online.

Has social media usage increased? Yes, of course it has, and by a staggering 33% between 2017 and 2019! The number of active social media users worldwide in 2019 reached 3.7 billion.

What about e-commerce? The number of people shopping online has also increased from 1.6 billion active users in 2017 to nearly 2 billion in 2019. That is now a quarter of the world’s population.

While this seems a slower growth than social media, Nasdaq has reported that they expect e-commerce to grow so rapidly over the next 20 years that around 95% of all purchases will be made online by 2040.

Did you know?

Online Sales from one website reached $38bn on just one day in 2019! The Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba’s, Singles’ Day or 11.11 event is now officially bigger than global online sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.’

This kind of online activity is reflected in the growth of mobile phone users, which was at 5.12 billion in 2019, compared to our reported figure of 4.91 billion in 2017.

And how else are we communicating online? We’re still sending emails! In fact half of the world’s population is and by the end of 2023, the estimated number of active email users is going to be 4.4 billion.

Just take a look at these 2020 online BIG DATA FACTS below and see what happens online in just one minute.

The Big Data Online Facts 2020


What are we doing online?

Now we know what the growth of internet usage looks like, but what are this many people doing online and has this changed?

The comparison below shows how the world is interacting online today in just one minute, compared to 2017.

What is happening online in 60 seconds 2020 versus 2017


We can see that even more data has been generated online with quite a significant increase in the number of emails sent and the number of YouTube videos being viewed over the last three years..

How much data is out there?

With all this activity going on, exactly how much data are we talking about in the ‘Global Datasphere’? This is the total data created, captured or replicated, but not necessarily being stored.

In 2017, we reported that there was there was 2.7 Zettabytes (ZB) of data in our digital universe. PwC believe that this reached 4.4 ZB in 2019, but more staggeringly predict that this will grow to 44ZB of data this year. In fact, IDC predicts the world’s data will grow to 175 ZB by 2025! This sounds a ridiculously high amount, but just how much data is it?

Let’s break down just how big a zettabyte is:

  • A gigabyte is 1,024 megabytes
  • A terabyte is 1,024 gigabytes
  • A petabyte is 1,024 terabytes
  • An exabyte is 1,024 petabytes
  • A zettabyte is 1,024 exabytes (so that’s 1,048,576 petabytes, 1,073,741,824 terabytes, 1,099,511,627,776 gigabytes, or 1,125,899,910,000,000 megabytes!)

Got all that? We could go bigger! But instead to maybe make it a little easier to visualise just how much data there may be in the world in five years, here are some examples from IDC:

  • If you stored 175ZB on DVDs, the stack of DVDs would be long enough to circle the Earth 222 times.
  • If you attempted to download 175ZB at the average current internet connection speed, it would take you 1.8 billion years to download!

What are businesses doing with their data?

So now we know how much data is out there and what people are doing online to generate it, but what is shocking to us at NodeGraph is when it comes to businesses, because on average:

“Between 60% and 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics”.

(source: Forrester, 2016)

We get it though, because simply trying to understand what data you have, if and where you have anomalies or what those anomalies in your data may even look like in the first place, can be quite a daunting challenge.

This is where NodeGraph can help.  If you are struggling to trust your data right now, watch our online demo and we will show you how to understand and be in control of your data.

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