How Big Is the Web?

How many websites make up the whole web?

Hands holding cell phone, browsing abstract 'web'

 Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

How big, really, is the web? The growth of the web has been exponential over the last decade with no sign of stopping. Countless websites have emerged on every subject imaginable, bringing with them even more web pages.

You can use a search engine to find billions of results in mere seconds, spanning websites that are hosted all over the globe. There are years worth of videos to watch, documents to read, and files to download. You could spend a lifetime looking through everything.

Quick Web Stats

Internet Live Stats, a site that measures internet statistics, estimates that the following is happening on the web every second:

Remember — that's the average in just one second. Extrapolate that out to an hour, a day, month, or year, and you can see just how explosive the web really is.

How Many Websites Are There?

It's estimated that there are well over one billion websites on the web today, an amazing number.

As of mid-2019, the indexed web contained at least 5 billion web pages, according to WorldWideWebSize.com, a site that developed a statistical method for tracking the number of pages indexed by major search engines.

That's just the activity on the surface web — the web that's searchable via a simple search engine query. These numbers, amazing as they are, give us only a small glimpse into the size of the web.

What's not accounted for is the invisible web, which is estimated to be many thousands of times larger than the surface web, but accessing it requires special search engines. Beyond the invisible web is even more content in what's known as the dark web.

So How Big Is the Web?

Between the staggering amount of data that's added on a minute by minute basis to the surface web, and the astonishing amount of content that exists in the dark net (between the deep web and dark web), it's difficult to get a completely accurate picture of how big the web really is — especially since it keeps growing by the minute.

The best way to go about figuring this out is to look at several different measurements:

  • How much content is online? One way to estimate the capacity of the web is to measure the traffic moving through the internet. According to Cisco's Visual Networking Index, the annual global IP traffic will reach 4.8 zettabytes (ZB) per year by 2022. That's 4,800 exabytes (every one exabyte is one million terabytes). Another way to see this: one ZB is the equivalent of 36,000 years of HD video, which in turn is the same as streaming Netflix's entire catalog in mere minutes.
  • How many web pages are there? Google's algorithms sort through hundreds of billions of web pages when you search for something.
  • How long would it take to download the entire web? If you tried to download the web from your computer, it would take over 10 trillion years.
  • How many pages does Google have in its index? Way back in 2008, Google reported one trillion unique URLs, so by now, that number has surely grown many times over. The Google Search index contains hundreds of billions of web pages and exceeds 100 million GB in size, which is 100,000 TB.
  • How many people use the web? It's estimated that there are over 4 billion people getting online worldwide.