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Megabytes, Gigabytes, Terabytes… What Are They?

These terms are used in the world of computing to describe disk space, or data storage space, and system memory. Want to know how many bytes are in a gigabyte, or megabytes in a terabyte? You are in the right place.

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A Quick Guide To

Mastering Bits & Bytes

A few years ago, hard disk space was described in terms of 'Megabytes'. Today, 'Gigabytes' and 'Terabytes'; are the most common terms associated with digital storage. But what are they?

Let's start with the basics.

What is a Byte?

Bytes are basic and physical unit of information in computing and digital communications!

  • At the smallest scale in the computer, information is stored as bits and bytes.
  • In decimal notation, multiples of bytes are expressed in powers of 10.
  • However, in the computer and information technology fields, multiples are expressed in powers of 2.

Understanding Bytes Through Real Life Examples

To put things into perspective, each date size is explained here below with the help of real-life examples:

Unit
Abbreviation
Decimal Value
Binary Value
Decimal Size
bit
b
0 or 1
0 or 1
1/8 of a byte
byte
B
8 bits
8 bits
1 byte
kilobyte
KB
1001 bytes
1001 bytes
1,000 bytes
megabyte
MB
10002 bytes
10002 bytes
1 million bytes
gigabyte
GB
10003 bytes
10003 bytes
1 billion bytes
terabyte
TB
10004 bytes
10004 bytes
1 trillion bytes
petabyte
PB
10005 bytes
10005 bytes
1 quadrillion bytes
exabyte
EB
10006 bytes
10006 bytes
1 quintillion bytes
zettabyte
ZB
10007 bytes
10007 bytes
1 sextillion bytes
yottabyte
YB
10008 bytes
1000* bytes
1 septillion bytes
Bit
is the smallest unit of data that a computer uses
  • Single Binary Digita (0 or 1)
Byte
= 8 bits
  • 1 Byte = One character
  • 10 Bytes = One Word
Kilobyte
= 1,000 Bytes of 1,024 Bytes (depending on the binary decimal value)
  • 1 Kilobyte = A paragraph
  • 100 Kilobytes = A low resolution photograph
Megabyte
= 1,000 kilobytes
  • 1 Megabyte = a short novel
  • 2 Megabytes = A high-resolution photograph
  • 600 Megabytes = a CD-ROM
Gigabyte
= 1,000 Megabytes
  • 1 Gigabyte = 7 minutes of HD-TV video
  • 1 Gigabyte = Content of about 10 yeards of books on a shelf
  • 100 Gigabytes = A library floor of academic journals
Terabyte
= 1,000 Gigabytes
  • 1 Terbyte = 3.6 million 300-Kilobye images
  • 1 Terabyte = 300 hours of good quality video
  • 1 Terabyte = 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica
  • 10 Terabytes = The printed collection of the entire Library of Congress
Petabyte
= 1,000 Terabytes
  • 1 Petabyte = 20 million 4-door filing cabinets full of text
  • 1 Petabyte = 500 billion pages of standard printed text
  • 20 Petabytes = The amount of data processed by Google daily
Exabyte
= 1,000 Petabytes
  • 1 Exabyte = 2 million personal computers
  • 5 Exabytes = All the words ever spoken by mankind
  • 15 Exabytes = Total data held by Google
Zettabyte
= 1,000 Exabytes
  • 1 Zettabyte = 250 billion DVDs
Yottabyte
= 1,000 Zettabytes
  • 1 Yottabyte = Size of the entire World Wide Web
  • (It would take approximately 11 trillion years to download a Yottabyte file from the internet using high-powered broadband.)

Brontobyte
= 1,000 Yottabytes
  • The only thing there is to say about a Brontobyte is that it is a 1 followed by 27 zeros!
Geopbyte
= 1,000 Brontobytes
  • No one knows why this term was created. It is highly doubtful that anyone alive today will EVER see a Geopbyte hard drive.

Quick Byte Guide

Processor or Virtual Storage

1 Bit=
Binary Digit
8 Bits=
1 Byte
1024 Bytes=
1 Kilobyte
1024 Kilobytes=
1 Megabyte
1024 Megabytes=
1 Gigabyte
1024 Gigabytes=
1 Terabyte
1024 Terabytes=
1 Petabyte
1024 Petabytes=
1 Exabyte
1024 Exabytes=
1 Zettabyte
1024 Zettabytes=
1 Yottabyte
1024 Yottabytes=
1 Brontobyte
1024 Brontobytes=
1 Geopbyte

Disk Storage

1 Bit=
Binary Digit
8 Bits=
1 Byte
1000 Bytes=
1 Kilobyte
1000 Kilobytes=
1 Megabyte
1000 Megabytes=
1 Gigabyte
1000 Gigabytes=
1 Terabyte
1000 Terabytes=
1 Petabyte
1000 Petabytes=
1 Exabyte
1000 Exabytes=
1 Zettabyte
1000 Zettabytes=
1 Yottabyte
1000 Yottabytes=
1 Brontobyte
1000 Brontobytes=
1 Geopbyte

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A Quick Guide to Master Bits and Bytes

Looking for an easy to understand guide that outlines bits and bytes? This helpful infographic breaks down bits and bytes and provides real-life examples to help understand their size. It also provides a brief history of the byte and further resources.