The Different Units Of Data Storage Capacity
Have you ever been stressed multiple times because of your limited phone storage? Did you ever wonder about the maximum capacity of information or data that technology can hold? Maybe, you’ve even thought about purchasing a device with a higher storage capacity, because having unlimited device storage is a dream come true for many, especially those who have to save multiple files.
Having lots of device storage can allow you to have as many games, photos, apps, and files as you want, which is exactly why people want devices with higher capacity, and even get products that will let them get even more storage space. However, what really is the limit of data retainment? When is it considered too much? What are the different stages or levels of data storage units? If you want to know, keep reading.
What is Data Storage?
Data storage is the process of storing or keeping information and making it as accessible as possible using technology. In essence, it means that papers and information are digitally recorded and kept in a storage system for later use. While data storage capacity is the amount of disk space that one or more storage devices offer. It calculates how much information a computer system might hold.
Data Storage Units (From Smallest to Largest)
A byte is the smallest unit of measurement in data capacity. It is the fundamental data unit used in computer processing and storage. Eight consecutive binary digits are what one singular byte consists of, each of which can be either a 0 or a 1.
A Kilobyte is the second smallest data storage unit measurement. In computer science, a kilobyte frequently consists of 1,024 (2¹⁰) bytes, even though the word “kilo” normally refers to 1,000. Depending on the context, it may also be used to refer to 1,000 bytes.
The third on the list is the Megabyte. This particular measurement of data storage capacity unit can hold up to 1 million (2²⁰) bytes. Though more specifically, a megabyte consists exactly of 1,048,576. When you see apps or games in your app store, you may frequently see a number following the acronym MB. This acronym stands for MB, and the number is the amount of storage in megabytes that the specific app will take.
This unit is currently the most common storage capacity that most devices hold. A gigabyte consists of 1 billion (2³⁰) bytes. More specifically, exactly 1,073,741,824 bytes. There are apps and games that you might see in your app store with numbers following the letters GB, which stands for gigabyte. This indicates that the app takes up whatever number was stated in gigabytes.
Hard disk capacity is currently limited to this particular storage unit measurement. A single terabyte consists of 1 trillion (2⁴⁰) bytes. Exactly 1,099,511,627,776, to be precise. Many people may think that the terabyte is the last or the biggest storage capacity unit, solely because they might have never heard of other bigger units that are even larger than terabytes.
A petabyte is a measure of memory or data storage capacity that is equal to 1 quadrillion (2⁵⁰) bytes. This is the highest capacity unit that any singular organization asserts to be able to handle. Facebook user photos collectively are thought to have close to 1 petabyte of data. An estimated 20 petabytes of data are processed daily by Google.
An exabyte is the third to largest storage capacity unit out there. This specific unit consists of 1 quintillion (2⁶⁰) bytes. To better demonstrate how big this unit is, it consists of 1 billion gigabytes. This storage capacity measurement is also 1,000 larger than a petabyte. 341 billion three-minute MP3s can be stored on a hard drive with 1EB of space.
We are now down to the second-biggest storage capacity unit. A zettabyte consists of 1 sextillion (2⁷⁰) bytes, making it 1,000 larger than an exabyte. To get more of an idea of just how big that number is, this particular unit is made up of 1 billion terabytes, that’s one billion trillion. At this point, the numbers are now extremely hard to comprehend. The 3ZB storage space can accommodate 30 billion 4K movies, proving just how large it really is.
Finally, for the largest data storage capacity unit. A yottabyte (YB) is a unit of theoretical storage capacity and data quantities for devices of the future. A singular yottabyte consists of 1 septillion (2⁸⁰) bytes. At the moment, nothing can be quantified on a yottabyte scale. To prove just how large this is, it consists of 1 trillion terabytes or one trillion. A 1 YB file would take roughly 86 trillion years to download, according to Paul McFedries’ book Word Spy.
So those are the different measurements of data storage capacity units. Pretty crazy, aren’t they? Most people probably aren’t even familiar with some of the number units mentioned above to describe the largeness of those storage units. Nonetheless, no matter how mindblowing they might have been, we hope we helped you learn about the concepts of data storage units in this article.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise. (n.d.). What is Data Storage? Retrieved from:
Evenden, I. (2020). Petabyte, Exabyte, Zettabyte, Yottabyte – just how big are they? TopTenReviews. Retrieved from:
IdTech. (2009). Orders of Magnitude in Digital Data & Computer Storage. Retrieved from: https://www.idtech.com/blog/orders-of-magnitude-digital-data
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