Gmail Limits & the Population Bomb

  • 11/1/2011

Sometime yesterday, the UN officially declared the birth of the world’s 7 billionth baby. Once all the numbers were in, I couldn’t help wondering: how long do we have left before we out-birth GMail’s storage limit?

I didn’t know how quickly the world’s population is growing, so I asked Alpha:

1.21% / yr

Using a super-accurate stopwatch and the GMail homepage, I took down a couple values to approximate the current rate of expansion of GMail storage:

Time (seconds)Size (MB)
07642.849482
20 later7642.849572
If you buy those numbers—and there’s no reason why you should—GMail’s storage is currently expanding at a rate of about 4.5b/s, or roughly 142MB/yr.

Comparing the exponential growth (r1) of global population (C1) with the linear growth (r2) of the Gmail storage limit (C2), the number of years (n) before they meet is:

C1(1 + r1)^n = C2 + r2(n)

And the conclusion is:

Solving for n under the assumption that nothing will change, Gmail should be all set for at least the next 88 years.

Hey, I'm RJ! For more learnings about software and management, find me @rjzaworski or sign up for my semi-regular newsletter.

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