How Large is the Internet?
The question of the size of the Internet is a difficult question to answer exactly. And there are not that many great data out there. It also depends on what you define as the Internet. Do you mean the number of host names? Do you mean the number of active websites? Or webpages?
Here are some data to give you a general idea. Note that this article was written in June 2011. And no doubt the Internet would have grown larger by the time you are reading this.
How Many Sites on the Internet
According to May 2011 Web Server Survey by Netcraft, there are over 324 million hostnames, which implies the possibility of that many websites. Granted, not all of those sites are actively maintained sites. Many people buy domain names and never use them. According to the Netcraft chart, it appears there are about 100 million sites that are active.
Some statistics indicate that the Internet broke the milestone of having more than 100 million sites in November 2006.
To put the numbers into perspective, the population of the United States is around 300 million. So it is about one hostname per person in the United States. And for every three person in the United States, there is about one active website in the world.
Since the population of the world is about 6.7 trillion, there is one active website for every 67 person (man, woman, and child) in the world.
How many pages are on the Internet?
A better answer as to determine how large the Internet is would be to know the number of pages on the Internet. After all, some sites have only a few pages; whereas some sites have many many pages.
So we look to search engines for the answer. Search engines' job is to index every page of the Internet. Since Google is the number one search engine at the current time, we reference the Official Google blog post of July 25, 2008 in which it said, "We've known it for a long time: the web is big."
Okay, we know that. But how many unique pages are on the Internet? The Google Blog says, "We don't know; we don't have time to look at them all!"
If Google doesn't know, then no one knows. But it did say that their machines have detected over 1 trillion unique URL web addresses at one time -- although multiple different URLs can lead to this same page.
How Many Words on the Internet?
In terms of number of words on the Internet, it has been estimated back in May 2007 at 100 trillion words. The number of words on the Internet clearly exceeds the number of people in the world.
References on How Large the Internet Is
- Netcraft May 2011 Web Server Survey say "In the May 2011 survey we received responses from 324,697,205 site". Here you see blue line marked "Hostnames" and red line marked "Active".
- Peter Norvig, Google's Director of Research, he mentions that it is estimated to be 10^14 words on the Internet (that's 100 trillion) at [06:30] into the video. Video was on May 31, 2007 at the Google Developer Day 2007 talk.
- Official Google Blog - "We've known it for a long time: the web is big"