The phrases “gigabytes,” “terabytes,” and “petabytes” are often bandied around, but what precisely do they imply when it comes to actual storage? Taking a deeper look at storage sizes, let’s see what’s available.
Words like byte, megabyte, gigabyte, and petabyte all relate to the amount of digital storage that can be held in a computer’s memory. With terminology like megabits and gigabits, they might get muddled up. When comparing storage capacity on hard drives, tablets, and flash storage devices, it’s important to grasp exactly what these phrases imply (and how they relate to one another). Data transmission rates for internet service or networking equipment may be compared using this tool.
Bits, Bytes, and Kilobytes
To begin, let’s look at some of the lower-level capabilities for digital storage.
A bit denotes the lowest possible unit of data storage (b). All can only store one binary digit—a 1 or a 0—and that’s it. Lower-case “b” is commonly used to denote a little amount, especially when it is part of an overall phrase or sentence. When it comes to bit count, one kilobit equals one thousand bits, and one megabit equals one million bits. We would use 45 Mb if we were to reduce something like 45 megabits to 45 Mb.
At the next level of abstraction, a byte (B). It takes eight bits to hold a single character of text, therefore a byte is the right size. A capital “B” is used as a shorthand for a byte in our language. It takes around 10 B of storage space to hold an average word, for example.
KB stands for kilobyte, and it is equal to 1,024 bytes of information (or 8,192 bits). Because we abbreviate kilobytes to KB, a single page of plain text may be stored in as few as 10 KB. To wrap things off, let’s take a look at some of the more common words you’ll encounter when browsing for new tech gear.
One megabyte contains 1,024 kilobytes (KB) (MB). Regular consumer devices, like as hard drives, were measured in megabytes (MBs) until roughly the late 1990s. Examples of how much you can store in the MB range are as follows:
- 1 MB = A 400 page book
- 5 MB = A average 4 minute mp3 song
- 650 MB = 1 CD-ROM with 70 minutes of audio
In the next sections, the number 1,024 will appear several times. After the kilobyte stage, each subsequent storage measurement is 1,024 times the value of the previous lower measurement, which is the case in most cases. One kilobyte is equal to 1,024 bytes; one megabyte is equal to 1,024 kilobytes; and so on.
As a result, it should come as no surprise that one gigabyte contains 1,024 megabytes (MB) (GB). If you’re talking about consumer-level storage, the term “GB” is still fairly prevalent. Despite the fact that most ordinary hard drives are now measured in terabytes, devices like USB drives and many solid state drives are still measured in gigabytes, according to the industry standard.
Here are a few real-life examples:
- 1 GB = around 10 yards of books on a shelf
- 4.7 GB = Capacity of one DVD-ROM disc
- 7 GB = How much data you’re using per hour when streaming Netflix Ultra HD video
One terabyte is equal to 1,024 gigabytes (GB) (TB). The terabyte (TB) is the most often used unit of measurement when discussing standard hard disc sizes at the moment.
Here are a few real-world examples:
- 1 TB = 200,000 5-minute songs; 310,000 pictures; or 500 hours worth of movies
- 10 TB = Amount of data produced by the Hubble Space Telescope per year
- 24 TB = Amount of video data uploaded to YouTube per day in 2016
One petabyte contains 1,024 TB (or about one million GB) of data (PB). According to the current trend, petabytes are expected to overtake terabytes as the standard unit of measurement for consumer-level storage at some point in the near future.
Examples from the real world:
- 1 PB = 500 billion pages of standard typed text (or 745 million floppy disks)
- 1.5 PB = 10 billion photos on Facebook
- 20 PB = The amount of data processed by Google daily in 2008
In one exabyte, there are 1,024 PB of storage space (EB). Typically, tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook (who handle unimaginable quantities of data) are the only ones that are concerned about running out of storage space at this point in time. At the consumer level, several (but not all) of the file systems that are now in use by operating systems have theoretical limits that are in the exabyte range.
Examples from the real world:
- 1 EB = 11 million 4K videos
- 5 EB = All the words ever spoken by humankind
- 15 EB = Total estimated data held by Google
Of course, the list could continue on and on. Those who are interested can learn more about the following three capacities on the list, which are the zettabyte, yottabyte, and brontobyte. To be quite honest, if you get over exabytes, you start getting into astronomical storage capacity that just don’t have any practical application right now.
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