About Cloud Storage and Acropolis

Have you ever walked a tourist site and wondered how many photos are shot every day in that place via smartphone and how much cloud drive space is needed to store all those pictures?

Today I visited the Acropolis archaeological site and that got me thinking about that question.

A total of 2,510,397 people visited the Acropolis in the January and October period [in 2017]…

via Greek City Times

Let’s take this number (2.5mio) as a starting point to make some assumptions on how many pictures are taken at the Acropolis archaeological site on an average day in that period.

  • 250.000 visitors a month divided by 31
  • makes 8000 thousand visitors a day.

How many pictures are shot? These 8000 visitors shoot 20 smartphone pictures on average. That makes ~160.000 photos shot at Acropolis archeological site on one day.

The average smartphone picture size is 5MB, that means

  • ~810.000MB of photos,
  • or 810GB, or 0,81TB in data size.

Lets ask a few questions about these numbers.

How much does it cost to upload all pictures to a public cloud drive? It would cost you € 8.25 to store all these photos on Dropbox (1TB/month), or € 9.99 with Apple iCloud.

You could also buy the new SanDisk Extreme with 1TB for $ 449.

But let’s go back to the initial number of 8.000 visitors a day. Now say that on average 80% or ~6500 visitors send 8 pictures to 5 friends each (WhatsApp, FB messenger, WeChat, etc.).

Most of the messaging apps do compress pictures before they are sent. In the above example, we calculate with a compression of 50% on every picture sent.

32K friends of visitors would receive pictures shot at Acropolis. 648GB of data is sent.

The size of all forwarded pictures is 648GB a day.

Overall, visitors generate 1460GB of data (pictures shot + forwarded) on a single day at Acropolis archeological site. 1460 GB is still something you can relate to, that could be 1200 ripped movies and you could store them on a hard disk you buy at Amazon.

If you want to store all pictures shot at Acropolis in one month you would need cloud drive space for 43TB.

Let’s assume 50% of visitors and their friends have cloud backup ON.

10 pictures are backed up in full size to the cloud per visitor, and 5 compressed images by each friend receiving pictures.

That gives 405GB of data backed up to the cloud with pictures shot at Acropolis archaeological site on one day.

So much about the photos shot at Acropolis on one day and what that means in data size.

Findings / Hints / Clues

  • All those photos are backed up to either Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, Apple iCloud or Amazon. Photos are stored in the United States.
  • The NSA has access to all those cloud storage providers (assumption! :)) and can query those cloud drives with a meta-search engine. The search results show images on a Google Maps-like application, connected to the social media accounts found for that person. A simple lifelog is created ad-hoc.
  • The NSA can train image algorithms to find you in all of those pictures, meaning not only your own selfies or your friend’s pictures but any pictures that have your face in it.
  • Facebook is not a cloud drive vendor but having their own datacenters. WhatsApp has a backup function, but we can assume that Facebook has a copy of most of our pictures due to the dominance of WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook.
  • The WhatsApp image folder is added to the cloud back up by default on most phones.
  • There is not much data available on public cloud usage (how consumers use cloud services). Lots of data is available for the cloud market in general (market share i.e.).
  • Even if you don’t upload your pictures to a cloud drive, some of your photos will land in the cloud as soon as you start forwarding pictures
  • You can assume that lots of pictures get uploaded to several clouds by different people
  • It would be interesting if the exact same picture is really uploaded multiple times or just once and then others only get permission to view that picture too
  • In other news: If one 1% of the pictures shot at Acropolis on one day are uploaded to Instagram, that makes 1600 uploads to Insta every day.

Create your own calcluation

For this thought experiment, I created a Google sheet to easily change my calculation. If you think I am far off or just want to create a different calculation for something else copy the sheet and start customizing.

Let me know what you think of my assumptions and findings in the comments.

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