The internet is such a part of our lives that we can often forget that it is composed entirely of data. And while that data often shapes who we are and what we do with our days, we don’t often think about it. And yet there is a lot of it, more than we can comprehend. But we’ll get to that in due time. What’s important to start off is that internet data is constantly being created and used in interesting ways, and studying that can tell us a lot about how we live our lives.
Now is the perfect time to step back and consider these trends. The pandemic changed how we look at data, and now we are taking additional steps to incorporate the internet into our lives. We can expect more data and more uses, so what’s just around the bend? Perhaps you are just interested in how much data the average person goes through in a day.
Whatever angle you are coming from, here are the most important internet data statistics to know in 2022:
How Much Data Is Being Used?
Every day, people go online to create programs, upload files, make memes, watch videos, and so much more. And each of them is a collection of data that is part of the much greater collection of everything online. Even the longest video to be found is a drop in the ocean.
It is hard to put this into imaginable or comprehensible terms, but one way of looking at it is that the internet is in some ways like space: It’s huge, much of it might not relate to us directly, and it is expanding. We’ll get into the numbers of it shortly, but it’s best to always remember that so much of the internet isn’t accessible to us or relevant.
It should also be noted that the total internet, including the deep and dark web, is incredibly difficult to measure. Nonetheless, we’ll try out best.
1. Is it Estimated that There Will Be 94 Zettabytes of Data Volume in 2022.
To most of us, this is an unfathomable amount of data, and rightly so. It amounts to everything people do online for an entire year. Just the amount of Google searches alone is beyond most people’s ability to envision it (more on that later). One Zettabyte is one trillion gigabytes. And a 4K movie, perhaps the largest file the average person might stream, might be 30-40 gigabytes.
And this number is going to increase and increase drastically. The amount of data volume is estimated to reach 118 zettabytes in 2023 and 149 zettabytes in 2024. We can only anticipate it going up from there, and that is not accounting for new technologies that will require even more bandwidth and data (VR, as we know it, is quite data-intensive, among other things).
2. There are 5.03 Billion Internet Users
It is estimated that about 63 percent of the world’s population is online in some form. All of them contribute to the internet and use it in their own ways, some more than others.
What does this directly have to do with the amount of data being created and used? A lot if you think about it. Every person is, on average, responsible for quite a bit of data each year. Now multiply that by billions. While by virtue of reading this and being interested in it, you might use more data than the average person on Earth, imagine if there were billions of people using the internet just as much as you every day. That is roughly the reality of the situation and what the engineers and experts of the internet must contend with keeping up with.
One more thing, this number is expected to increase. The total internet penetration rate has been increasing year after year, and while some regions are closing in on their eventual maximum (a 100 percent rate seems unlikely anywhere), other regions still have room to grow. Consider the penetration rate by region as shown below:
The amount of data coming out of Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East is expected to increase and increase rapidly. Companies may want to expand their online services in those areas. Social media networks will be competing for new users. And overall, we will need to consider how to say hello to hundreds of millions of new people on the internet soon, as we have in the past.
3. Mobile Traffic is Responsible for 62.06 Percent of All Web Traffic.
Regarding the total amount of data we see in statistic one or how much data people use daily, mobile is an interesting topic. Mobile sites and apps are generally more efficient and are optimized around not using as much data. On the other hand, people won’t even think about whether or not to go online if they have a smartphone available. They’ll just look something up without a second thought. Someone who needs a desktop may have the resistance of having to go to their desk and log into their device.
Experts are curious about what point the share will stabilize, given that people will still use desktops and laptops for the foreseeable future (they can simply do some things, especially for work and entertainment purposes, that smartphones can’t). This percentage is still increasing year after year as of this writing.
4. Google Processes 8.5 Billion Searches on Average Per Day
That is more than one search per person on this planet each day. Naturally, some people are making searches way more often than others (perhaps you came to this article by means of a Google Search), yet overall, society seems dependent on the search giant.
Google is the most visited website in the world and the leader in online searches by a ridiculous degree. It outpaces even the second most popular option by about 89 percent of the market share, and whether on mobile or desktop, nothing can hope to compete with it. There are actually some concerns about the power it has over everything, but that is a topic for a different article.
Simply put, Google is involved in a lot of the data being processed and used at one step or another. And that isn’t counting the fact that Google owns YouTube, has one of the most popular email clients, or is responsible for a vast array of other online services.
5. About 70 Percent of GDPs Will Have been Digitalized by 2022
There are two ways to look at statistics about data. First, we can and should talk about how much raw data people create and how much bandwidth is used. That allows us to understand how much is happening online and what we need in terms of storage, bandwidth, and more. It’s a calculated equation and logistical situation, but it’s necessary, and experts are on the case.
And yet another way to look at it is through the real-world impact of the data and systems we are creating and using. What is happening to economies and people's lives as a result of the internet and increasing digitalization? What do people use their connections for, and what do they mean to them? Are things changing for the better or for the worse, both when it comes to long-term and short-term quality of life?
The first look at the macro-scale is the rate of developed GDPs that have digitized their economies. Clearly, the economy benefits from it, and there are additional reasons why some industries are going for it more than others. And the evidence is clear: more economies want to go digital, and more companies and governments are welcoming it.
Every video call, voice call, and even social media message is data and creates data. Given the number of these that happen every second, much less every day (one moment for the stats on that), this is a lot of data and a lot of traffic to keep track of and manage. How much data is being used or created here?
6. A Standard Text Message Equals 0.0001335 MB of Data
While every text message (or equivalent) makes up data, it isn’t very much. Yet it does add up to some degree. The average person sends about 13 text messages every day. If you do the math, that’s about 1.6 KB of data.
For that reason, authorities in a disaster situation ask that people check on their loved ones via text message instead of a call. Putting too much stress on the system, which does have its limitations, can cause problems. While the pandemic proved that we are mostly fine in terms of our internet infrastructure, there is always room for improvements and always moments where caution and planning are best practices.
However, texting can lead to much more data usage when pictures and other files are sent, so the total data usage from texting and messaging platforms is much higher overall.
7. 41,666,667 Million Messages Per Day Are Sent on WhatsApp
WhatsApp might be the most popular messaging method today, including standard SMS texting. Part of the appeal is the privacy of the messages sent and the ability to send messages without worrying about international texting rates (those add up). The messages can include all sorts of content, so the small size of a text message might not be as much of a mitigator of data usage as you might think.
Other messaging apps also have their own impacts, such as Facebook Messenger and a few more privacy-focused options, but WhatsApp is the market leader by a wide margin.
8. More than Three Million Emails Are Sent Every Second
Email is a huge part of the data we create and send out. And of those emails, 67 percent are spam. Yet in the great sea of data and our measurements, spam is no different than any other email. In fact, if the spam contains more pictures or attachments, that’s more data that is being created.
While some say email is a dying form, that’s just not true. It might be used more for marketing and official business than the messaging it was used for in the past, but that’s a small portion of emails and hardly makes a dent in total use (see the above note about spam).
Now we get to one of the big drivers of data usage and data creation: video. Video sharing has become huge, and streaming services are overtaking standard pay TV in some markets. Like any broadcast or cable network, Hulu and Netflix are household names. And video uses a lot of data. Here are some key stats:
9. Netflix Is Responsible for 9.39 Percent of Global Downstream Traffic in 2022
Netflix might be the biggest name you hear about in direct response to tons of data being used and tons of bandwidth being consumed (though it doesn’t exactly work like that). This will change over time as other streaming services get a larger market share and, as such, a larger chunk of the data pie. In fact, this has already been the case, given that Netflix used to have an even larger share.
In fact, Netflix was such a large share of data used, and it was such an important topic that it effectively became the center of the debate over net neutrality for a time. Some ISPs wanted to charge Netflix extra, or else they would be put in a “slow lane.” It was quite the debate at the time, and net neutrality remains an issue to this day.
10. There are 500 Hours of Content Uploaded to YouTube Every Minute
And how do things look on YouTube? It is one of the most popular platforms on earth, after all. As it turns out, it’s quite busy with all the data, hosting more content than someone could ever hope to watch in a single lifetime, even if YouTube cut off all further downloads. Given different resolutions and variations in videos, it’s hard to tell exactly how much data is on the platform, but it’s easy to imagine the number is astronomical.
And, of course, in addition to just the hosted videos, there are comments, thumbnails, profiles, and all sorts of additional information on the platform that needs to be managed and stored. The videos are by far the largest slice of the pie, of course, but every system needs an infrastructure to work from, and anything with social media options and commenting will use more data over time than some people will think.
11. A 480p Video Stream on Twitch Will Use Between 0.405 GB and 0.54 GB Per Hour
What about live streaming? Twitch might be the most well-known live-streaming service (at least the one that’s known for live-streamed content). That might not seem like a lot, but it adds up, given that most viewers on Twitch will have the stream up while they are doing something else. That data usage adds up quickly with someone “watching” every day.
And Twitch is growing overall. In 2021 it had an annual average of 2.78 million concurrent viewers. In just 2019, it had 1.26 million.
12. It is Estimated that 81 Percent of All Streaming in 2021 was Video
While we are still waiting on some of the information from 2022 to come in, one study from Cisco estimated and predicted that video content and data would be most of the streaming data overall. Much of it will be related to the platforms we mentioned or will mention, but remember that those aren’t the only ones and that video doesn’t require a platform to be transferred (it just helps a lot).
This portion might increase over the years unless a different, more data-consuming file type becomes available and popular.
Perhaps more than anything else, social media has changed how we look at and use the internet over the past fifteen years. And even at the very beginning, we were creating and sharing quite a bit of data with platforms such as Myspace. So, what can we learn from social media and its data creation?
13. There are 4.7 Billion Social Media Users Worldwide.
That number is also growing and is making up a larger percentage of the world’s population each year. While it will be a long time (if ever) before everyone is online, the more people that are online, the more data is created, and similarly, there are more reasons for people to act and interact with each other online. Social media might not take over everything, but social media networks are going to continue to try to expand and find more reasons for users to spend their time on their networks.
And social media is not just people streaming a video, for example (though that’s a huge part of it). People will take brilliant photographs and videos and upload them. They’ll create and repost memes, provide audio recordings, and much more. If there’s a way for people to express themselves and put it in a digital format, then they will do so on social media.
14. The Average Person Using Social Media Will Go Through About 1.5 MB of Data Each Minute
This increases to an average of 2.6MB per minute if someone spends time interacting with posts, watching videos, etc. This adds up over time, especially given that there are more than 4.7 billion social media users worldwide, and that number just keeps growing. Also, keep in mind that the average social media user spends about two hours and 29 minutes on social media each day.
This rate will also change in the future depending on how social media companies change their platforms. More efficiency could mean a lower rate of data usage per minute. Yet we also might see more photos and videos get on social media feeds, resulting in more data usage.
15. About 51 Percent of Content on Facebook is Video
Speaking of the amount of video online and continuing from our section on video, Facebook is heavily video. It’s often what gets the most attention, and attention is king on social media (perhaps other than the algorithm).
More people are able to create and upload videos and even live streams with their connections and devices. If someone wants to create a video, they can, with a few questions asked. And it can be uploaded in minutes, without a need to think about it very much.
Cloud Storage, Machine Data, and More
“The Cloud” is one of those things that people first were confused by, then mocked a little, and then used every day whether they realize it or not. Cloud storage and cloud computing have been revolutionary in changing how we use the internet and how we look at the data we generate and need to keep safe. There are some privacy concerns (what if someone hacks the cloud?), but overall, the cloud has become necessary for the internet as we know it to operate.
Here are some key stats:
16. About 60 Percent of All Corporate Data Is Stored on the Cloud
The amount of data in the cloud is at least partially private information that we cannot determine now. However, we can measure how much the cloud relies upon to store data. And as of 2022, that is a lot and growing.
The jump in recent years could very well be an effect of the pandemic and the increased reliance on remote work (which the cloud makes much easier). Yet storing the amount of data needed for work safely in-house is an increasingly difficult problem. After all, one fire or accident could potentially destroy years of work and more if there isn’t a backup.
17. By 2025, Cloud Data Storage Will Receive 200 Zettabytes or More of Data
In total, between private cloud servers and ones generally available to the public, there is a massive amount of data currently on the cloud, and the amount will increase. While the amount of data might vary a little bit by that date, and we are interested to see if the supply for storage can keep up with demand, we can absolutely expect more cloud utilization.
As discussed, this does leave open some privacy concerns. However, there will also be more opportunities for digitization and a lot more convenience when it comes to both work and general usage. It will be up to people in 2025 to decide how much the tradeoffs are worth.
18. Machine Data Was 40 Percent of Internet Data in 2020
Human beings contribute a lot to the internet and are the ones producing the majority of the data online (for the moment). Yet we cannot discount machines for their contributions as well, whether as a result of an algorithm, a process to automatically update a website, and more.
Yet there is also the international machine language, its effects on the global economy, and the raw data created by machines. It’s a growing amount like anything else, and as machines get smarter, we will both have more machines that can use it and machines that create more of it as a necessary part of their operation.
Data from the IoT
In truth, most IoT devices are not terribly concerned with the creation of such data, with a few exceptions. There are smart security systems, smart doorbells, and the like that involve a lot of data, but many devices are designed to have minimal impact on bandwidth. A smart lightbulb is an impressive piece of technology, but that doesn’t mean it requires a lot of data to use or creates a lot of it (if any). Nonetheless, there are billions of devices connected to the Internet of Things. here is the impact of the IoT that we can determine at this point:
19. There Will Be About 25.44 Billion IoT Devices by 2030
That will be several devices for every person on the planet, and depending on your definition of what counts as an IoT device, some people might not count smartphones and consider them their own category, but they would be quality under most definitions. Nearly every car made now has smart features. Most appliances that are not the cheapest available have a smart feature or two or are only a step away, given their electronic nature.
Yet not all are household appliances and the like. As an example of industry and businesses embracing the internet and digital realm, we are seeing more IoT devices in work capacities. We are especially seeing more devices in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. And that’s all the better, given that these connections can save lives (send alerts when someone is experiencing serious symptoms).
20. There Will be 1.3 Billion IoT Subscriptions in 2023.
In total, the number of IoT subscriptions is set to be about 1.3 billion in 2023. This is notable as these subscriptions will be the source of a lot of data and are used by people who might use them often (or use them automatically in some cases). It’s also important to note that many of the subscriptions might be for business or industrial usage
Interestingly, this is also telling of a general trend in software and technology; the subscription model is starting to dominate over the regular buying of licensure. It’s more possible given that everyone is almost expected to be constantly online, and issuing regular updates to a product might be easier than developing a new product every year or two (Microsoft Office programs and related services are the perfect examples of this). It does mean that it could lead to higher expenses for some organizations and users, but that’s a discussion for a more focused article.
For now, just remember that the more of these subscriptions that are out in the world, the more constant or regular connections are necessary.
21. A Single Connected Car Can Produce 4 TB of Data in One Day
Not all IoT devices produce the same amount of data. A connected car, for example, produced a lot of data given the number of things happening at once and sensors to constantly get a feed of information from. While there is unlikely to be a situation where there will be a
Most of this data will not be saved by default or necessarily transferred anywhere. But it is available if someone wants to study it, and this provides the perfect example of how much data is produced by many devices in our everyday lives.
Privacy and Security Concerns
Yet, all of this information on the internet leads us to wonder just how much of it is sensitive information that deserves protection. And of that set of information, how much of it is getting the protection it needs? Is it vulnerable? And what more can we tell if private data has been compromised in some way prior to it being too late to do anything about it?
The answer is complicated, given the amount of data involved. Much of it has to do with how well companies and individuals protect their data. What is clear is that there will be more threats. Here are a few stats to provide additional context:
22. Cybercrime Will Cause $6 Trillion in Damages in 2022
So exactly how much is all this data worth? A great deal. Cybercrime is a massive toll on the global economy, despite increased security spending and clear warnings from all sides. A single data breach can ruin a company. The common crime of the past is turning to cybercrime because that’s where the money is.
Again, what does this mean for your data? It can mean that there is a greater need to handle data security on your own, and it also means that you should use common sense when entrusting someone else (whether a person or company) with your private information. Even those with the best intentions can make a mistake, and hackers will attack the places with the largest stores of the most valuable information. There is a reason that hospitals and other healthcare facilities are among the most frequent targets of cybercriminals.
23. 62 Percent of Americans Don’t Think It’s Possible to Live Daily Life Without Companies Collecting Data on Them
The common call also asks, “Do we want so much of our lives and information to be available online?” Some of us are more private than others with our information online, but even then, cookies, trackers, and other tools websites and social media networks use to create a lot of information and a profile on people. Some are unhappy about this, and some countries have stronger privacy protections than others.
And their concerns are valid. Companies are more focused on collecting data on customers (mostly for marketing purposes) than ever before. And as we know, there is a lot of data to collect. Everything from what ads you click on to what order you click on them is of interest to some companies. And unless people are almost unreasonably vigilant or there are stricter consumer protections against data collection, the trend isn’t going to change.
There Is More to Come
If you haven’t figured it out already, there will be no stopping the train of data that has left the station. People will use more data as file sizes get larger, video is used more often, and resolution and audio quality improvements across the board. Additionally, more people are getting online for the first time every day, and this will continue for decades, if not forever. On top of this, as we’ve already discussed, social media is contributing to a ton of new files being created and stored. And while it is possible that old posts and the like will be eventually purged to make way for the new, there are no signs of that from the moment (though it’s clear Snapchat has a bit of an advantage there).
It is impossible to go over every source of data here. Not only are there so many, but new sources of data creation are being invented regularly, whether they become widespread in their use or not. Yet remember that even the data you can’t see profoundly affects larger digital spaces and daily lives.
What Size is a Data File?
People are often confused by how large files are and just how much information is in a byte, Gigabyte, etc. To that end, we have created the following chart to help you.
Note that while the names of measurements generally follow the metric system, not everything is strictly to the power of ten. For example, a kilobyte is 1024 bytes, not 1000. On a large scale, the difference matters little, but for exact measurements, this distinction is important.
Yet these numbers still don’t mean too much without context. Here are some of the more common uses for data and what some common file sizes to expect might be:
- A simple word document or text file is not that large, which makes sense given you could once fit them on floppy disks (remember those?). The size can actually vary depending on the number of pages and which characters are used, but it would take a document of about 65,000 pages to equal a GB.
- Audio files also differ depending on the length and the bitrate. However, one estimate is about 3.28 MB per song. By the hour, a 192Kbps (not very high) bitrate file will have a file size of 86.4 MB per hour.
- Picture files vary greatly depending on the resolution and whether the file is compressed or not (among other factors). Yet each photo taken on the average smartphone is likely to be about 2 MB or more. The file format will also make a huge difference.
- Video files are much larger and will be responsible for file storage, taking up more than anything else.
- Video games can also vary greatly in their file size, but some of the biggest games as of this writing have huge file sizes, some reaching over 100GB. This is not counting the data used to just interact with an online game or anything involving voice chat (some people use what’s in-game, while others use a service such as Discord). Combine that with the number of times mobile games (still sizable, if not as sizable as major console and PC releases), and you find that gaming is quite data intensive.
Many ISPs will put people on a monthly data allowance of 1TB. While this is more than enough for most households, and they won’t have to think about it, some people download many large files that need to keep track of their data. If you’re worried, study the above a bit more and take a closer look at what you’re downloading.
More relevant to the average person is the data allowance on mobile data, which can vary from plan to plan. There are many “unlimited” plans, but in the fine print, you’ll often find that there is a point where a service provider will throttle the connection, severely limiting its use. There are a few true unlimited plans, but otherwise, plans could go anywhere from 5GB per month to 1TB per month. It all depends on what people are willing to pay and what service providers are willing to share.
Checking Your Own Data Usage
One fun way to get more personalized data usage and creation statistics are to simply take a look at your own devices and use the settings and tools available to you:
- You can check your own mobile data usage going into your phone. You will want to go into Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Data on Apple devices. This will give you an idea of how much data you have used in a month. On most Android devices, open the “Settings” app, then go into Connections > Data Usage. Then go into Mobile Data Usage for more information. This should give you a breakdown of what apps are using the most data.
- Checking how much data you are using on your WiFi or broadband connection is a bit of a trickier proposition, at least in detail, but it is certainly possible.
- There are apps for both desktop and mobile that allow you to track your data usage more in-depth. They could be independent apps created for the purpose or a feature of an app from an ISP or larger company. Based on what you use, take a look around and see what tracking apps you can find. Just make sure you can find something trustworthy, as giving a suspicious app that much access is dangerous.
- And if you’re using a Windows computer, opening up the task manager and going to the “Network” tab will also provide you with a wealth of real-time information. Short-term use with it means you should take the results with a grain of salt (there are short-term spikes and lulls in data use with a program), but it can tell you what’s using the most bandwidth, among other helpful information.
If you’re checking your data usage because you’re worried about hitting a data cap, then note that averages over time are more important than a single-use session. And be sure to budget a little extra data in case of an emergency or unexpected use case. As you can tell from above, some tasks quickly use a lot of data.
There is so much more to the internet than most people realize. We hope that you can get more done and better understand how vast the internet is and some of the factors that go into how it changes every day. Remember that things will change over time and that people are constantly hard at work to allow people to do more with the internet. And with all of that comes lots of internet data to be analyzed now and in the future. Keep on studying, look up more information as it comes out, and we encourage you to come back to this page as you feel the need.