Come with me now on an expedition deep, deep, deep into murky depths of the … well, the internet. So far as we can see, the internet is immeasurably vast and seemingly endless. But did you know that there is an even more incomprehensively immense portion of the internet that you and I will never, ever see?
Let’s use a fishing analogy. If you trawl the ocean with a net, you’re going to catch only the fish that are relatively near the surface; yet you know that, deep beneath you, there are many, many more fish. You just won’t see them. The same is true when you’re trawling the internet using a search engine such as Google. The results you get come from what is known as the “Surface Web,” or simply, the “Web.” The information that is NOT returned on your search, but most certainly exists, is referred to as the “Deep Web.” And in some cases, it’s the “Dark Web,” where the most illicit or illegal activity is intentionally hidden from the general public.
Due to the nature of the Deep Web, no one knows exactly how much data exists there, but experts say that the Surface Web comprises about 4.37 billion web pages, which represents only about .03% of all the data on the internet, roughly 0.00237 ZB (zettabytes) of data. The Deep Web, then, makes up the other 99.97% of the internet’s data, an astounding 7.89 ZB. Let that sink in for a moment.