The Expanding (Digital) Universe: Visualizing How BIG a Zettabyte Really Is

Visualizing Zettabytes in Units of Facebook

Facebook currently stores 300 Petabytes (PB) or 300 x 250 bytes of data in their data warehouse (this is growing at 600 TB per day). This is rather enormous—especially for a private enterprise. However it is much, much smaller than even one Zettabyte: 1 ZB could contain 3,495 entire Facebook Data Warehouses:

1 ZB would contain 3,495 entire Facebook Data Warehouses (click for zoomable resolution)

Facebook leadership has expressed the desire to get everyone on Earth connected. Today, Facebook has 1.3 Billion Monthly Active Users. If they got all 7.5 billion people projected to be alive in 2020—and data continued to grow 10-fold between now and then—their data warehouse would still only be 1/60th of 1 ZB:

7.5 billion MAUs with 10x increase in data use is still only 1/60th of a ZB
7.5 billion MAUs AND a 10x increase in data use is still only makes the DW 1/60th of a ZB

Expanding this to 44 ZB increases the number to 153,791 Facebook Data Warehouses. A grid display of this number is beyond the resolution of even Retina Display monitors. You could visualize this with “Bat Cave-like” grid of four rows of 11 hi-resolution monitors. However, that is impractical and expensive (~$40,000).

Really Big No Matter How You Look At It

One Zettabyte is indeed very, very big. Growing from just under 1 ZB to over 44 ZBs in a little over a decade is astounding. Managing this—whether you a technologist responsible for managing data, a business user who needs to use data, of a consumer just trying to manage the flood of all of your personal data—will be a challenge for all.