I have a soft spot for decentralisation, independence, and self-reliance. Although I very much appreciate the convenience of just-in-time access to content, and how it better aligns with the financial incentives of content creators, I can’t help but think of an alternative that is more “local”.

Realistically speaking, how much disk space would “everything” take? I’m not asking how much space we would need to store a snapshot of the universe or anything that abstract. What I’m wondering is, if we were to go off the grid, how much disk space would it take to store things we may realistically want to access in a year or a decade?

Collection Count Size (TiB) Description
Maps 1,151 0.06 Regions with road and point-of-interest (POI) maps from Organic Maps including all countries.
Encyclopedia 6,492,232 0.09 All Wikipedia articles in English including pictures.
Software N/A 1.9 A mirror of Debian including architectures source, all, amd64, arm64, and i386.
Movies 47,639 39 All 720p movies in YIFY torrents.
Textbooks 3,761,497 51 All non-fiction books in Library Genesis.
Scientific papers 86,726,474 73 All scientific papers in Sci-Hub, covering “85.1% of articles published in toll access journals” [10.7554/eLife.32822].

In perspective

To put things in perspective, let’s take the movies collection. Let’s put the legal and moral aspect of using someone’s intellectual work without remunerating them aside in order to focus on the feasibility of hosting it for a moment. Two 22 TB disks at ~1,200 USD and an entry level 2-bay NAS at ~200 USD should be able to store and serve all of the movies that you may realistically ever want to watch. In the little spare capacity you have, you may squeeze a mirror of Debian for your architecture, a copy of Wikipedia, and a map of the world even. All in 4 litres of space (165 mm x 100 mm x 225.5 mm).

Isn’t that crazy?