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Home Technology Explained Gigabytes, terabytes, and petabytes in context

# Gigabytes, terabytes, and petabytes in context

It’s easy to understand that 500 gigabytes is more than 100 gigabytes. You probably also know that a terabyte is larger than a megabyte. But if you are unfamiliar with computer architecture, these are all abstract terms. While you can visualize an inch or a quarter, it’s much harder to describe a terabyte or petabyte.

From these perspective, looking at your computer’s storage sizes, how big the gigabyte, terabyte, and larger are.

## Byte basics explained

If you’re not familiar, we’ll first check the basics of saving on your computer.

bit is the smallest amount of data that a computer can store. Because computers use a binary numbering system, each bit can be either a 0 or a 1. To put this into perspective, one bit is enough to store whether the value is true or false. For example, in a video game, there may be one bit 1 if the player had received a certain upgrade and 0 if they didn’t already have it.

The eight bits together are called a byte, which is the building block of inventory. byte can contain 256 possible values. For example, this stores one character in the ASCII encoding standard.

### Kilobytes and megabytes

Like most measurements, as the size increases, prefixes are used to describe larger amounts of data.

kilobytes (KB), the first large grouping, is 1000 bytes. You recognize the “pound” prefix because it is used in other thousands of measurements, such as “kilometer” (1000 meters). To get an idea, a text file of about 1,000 characters is about one kilobyte.

The last size before we get to higher denominations is a megabytes (MB), which is 1000 kilobytes (or one million bytes). One megabyte contains about a minute of music in MP3 format. In another bit of perspective, a standard CD has about 700 MB. Keep in mind that a megabyte is different from a megabit

Before we move on, we should mention the difference between how computers and people measure storage space. Because of the operation of the binary system, one kilobyte is actually 1,024 bytes, not even 1,000. This variation increases as the size steps move upward, which is noticeable in significantly larger storage volumes. Therefore, a 250GB hard drive only shows about 232GB available.

Since the correct definition of prefixes like “giga” is an even multiplier of 1,000, for the sake of simplicity, we have used a force of 1,000 instead of 1,024 here. Other prefixes, such as “kibi” and “gibi,” correctly mean multiples of 1,024. see a full explanation of the differences in computer size design

## How big is a gigabyte?

You are probably familiar with the term gigabyte (GB) because it is the most common storage unit on today’s devices. If you’re wondering how many bytes there are in gigabytes, remember that each level goes up by 1,000 at a time.

We have seen that a kilobyte is 1000 bytes and a megabyte is 1000 bytes. Because a gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes, one gigabyte equals one billion bytes.

In perspective, 1GB has about 230 standard MP3 songs. Depending on the video codecs used, about three minutes of 4K video at 30FPS was equivalent to 1GB. And a standard DVD has about 4.7GB.

Most smartphones today have 32 to 512 GB of storage. However, computer storage drives are available in much larger sizes, which will take us to the next unit …

## How much is a terabyte?

You can purchase internal and external hard drives and SSDs, which are now available in terabyte ratings. But how big is a terabyte compared?

Remember that move on to terabytes (TB) simply adds value by another thousand forces. Thus, a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, and a terabyte is equal to a trillion bytes.

We mentioned earlier that a basic CD has about 700 MB and a DVD about 4.7 GB. So you need almost 1,430 CDs or 213 DVDs for one terabyte of storage!

From another perspective, the U.S. Library of Congress revealed in 2009 that its collection contained about 74 terabytes of data. This has certainly increased over the years, but we can use other huge datasets for newer calculations.

For example, according to general estimates, the average book requires about 1 MB of storage (no pictures). In late 2019, Google announced that Google Books had scanned more than 40 million titles. This means you need about 40k to store all your books in Google Books.

## What is a petabyte?

This is the first data size you may not be aware of. One petabyte (PB) equal to 1,000 terabytes or one Quadrillion bytes. This is an incredible amount of information that is hard to understand.

To try to put this into perspective, researchers estimate that the human brain has room for about 2.5PB of memory. 1PB is enough to record 24/7 video at 1080p for almost 3.5 years. You can take 4,000 digital photos every day for the rest of your life so you can also fill one petabyte. And by March 2018, AT&T had transferred 197PB data through its networks on a daily basis.

In other words, the Milky Way galaxy is home to about 200 billion stars. If each single star were one byte, we would need 5,000 Milky Way galaxies to reach 1PB of data.

## Exabytes, Zettabytes and Yottabytes

There are still several larger amounts of storage above the petabytes. We’ll take a brief look at them so you know them, but these sizes are so huge that you’re unlikely to hear them referring in the usual discussion for years to come.

exabyte (EB) is 1,000 petabytes, or one quintile byte. 2004 was the first time that monthly Internet traffic around the world surpassed 1EB. In 2017, the internet processed about 122EB of data per month. You can store about 11 million 4K movies.

The next is zettabyte (ZB), corresponding to 1,000 exabytes or one byte of gender. The International Data Corporation calculated that the global data sphere was somewhere around 33 zettabytes in 2018. Another way to look at it is that the Australian continent is about 2.97 million square kilometers. If every square mile represents one terabyte, there were room for almost 337 Australian copies in zettabyte.

The maximum currently defined data size is a yottabyte (YB). This staggered unit is equal to 1,000 zettabytes or one septillion byte. Comparisons with current data sizes are a bit ridiculous, but it is estimated that you could hold 257,054 trillion DVDs or 288,230 square feet of average MP3 tracks in yottabyte.

## Gigabytes, terabytes, other sizes: Explained!

It’s amazing to consider how far storage technology has come in just a few decades. We can now store on our computers and phones huge collections of videos, sounds, images and other information that would not have been conceivable 20 years ago.

It will probably take a while before you can buy a storage drive that is in petabytes or larger, but now you know roughly how much these units hold.

If you run out of stock, check the best free cloud storage providers

Image credit: Dooder / Shutterstock

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