The Astonishing Storage Capacity of the Human Brain.

Plus, six methods to help boost your memory.

Niall Leah
7 min readSep 29, 2022


Jorm S (Shutterstock standard usage.)

Learning new things is a wonderful habit.

There is no better way to grow than by being a lifelong learner by adding new knowledge and skills daily to our repertoire.


Is there an upper limit to what we can store up there? Do things eventually get pushed out for lack of space?

“May I be excused my brain is full?” — Gary Larson’s famous cartoon.

How Much data can we hold up there?

The answer to this question is remarkable. Our brains can hold over one Petabyte, equivalent to one thousand terabytes or a quadrillion bytes.

It’s a substantial amount of data difficult to conceptualize, try to imagine 500 billion pages of text (Yeah…Maybe that doesn’t help.)

According to some studies it could hold the entire internet.

So it’s impossible to fill in our lifetime unless you are a vampire or a cyborg. You can stop worrying that old information is being pushed out by the new things you learn, as you still have space.

The problem is that the brain actively deletes data often. You can recall pretty much everything that happened at the end of a long day. Even cutting your nails sat on the carpet.

But try recalling everything you did on the first Wednesday of last month; chances are you can’t remember most of it.

Despite it’s colossal storage space, the brain is constantly deleting things it deems unimportant.

There is a practical reason for this. Our brains are bombarded with information every single day but only a fraction of it is essential for our well-being and survival.

We haven’t evolved biologically in the last few hundred thousand years. Our ancestors didn’t need to use Rosetta stone to learn a language or memorize trivia online for the weekly pub quiz.

Their brains and, by extension, ours only prioritizes information the brain has determined to be important. The rest is sent to the proverbial…



Niall Leah

An ex-pat from the UK living in Chengdu, China. I satisfy my endless curiosity about the incredible journey of humanity by reading, traveling, and writing.