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How big is a Petabyte, Exabyte, Zettabyte, or a Yottabyte?

This is an intuitive look at large data sizes By Julian Bunn in Globally Interconnected Object Databases.

Bytes(8 bits)

Kilobyte (1000 bytes)

Megabyte (1 000 000 bytes)

Gigabyte (1 000 000 000 bytes)

Terabyte (1 000 000 000 000 bytes)

Petabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

  • 1 Petabyte: 5 years of EOS data (at 46 mbps)
  • 2 Petabytes: All US academic research libraries
  • 20 Petabytes: Production of hard-disk drives in 1995
  • 200 Petabytes: All printed material OR Production of digital magnetic tape in 1995

Exabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

  • 5 Exabytes: All words ever spoken by human beings.
  • From wikipedia:
    • The world's technological capacity to store information grew from 2.6 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1986 to 15.8 in 1993, over 54.5 in 2000, and to 295 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007. This is equivalent to less than one 730-MB CD-ROM per person in 1986 (539 MB per person), roughly 4 CD-ROM per person of 1993, 12 CD-ROM per person in the year 2000, and almost 61 CD-ROM per person in 2007. Piling up the imagined 404 billion CD-ROM from 2007 would create a stack from the earth to the moon and a quarter of this distance beyond (with 1.2 mm thickness per CD).
    • The world’s technological capacity to receive information through one-way broadcast networks was 432 exabytes of (optimally compressed) information in 1986, 715 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1993, 1,200 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2000, and 1,900 in 2007.
    • According to the CSIRO, in the next decade, astronomers expect to be processing 10 petabytes of data every hour from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.[11] The array is thus expected to generate approximately one exabyte every four days of operation. According to IBM, the new SKA telescope initiative will generate over an exabyte of data every day. IBM is designing hardware to process this information.

Zettabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

  • From wikipedia:
    • The world’s technological capacity to receive information through one-way broadcast networks was 0.432 zettabytes of (optimally compressed) information in 1986, 0.715 in 1993, 1.2 in 2000, and 1.9 (optimally compressed) zettabytes in 2007 (this is the informational equivalent to every person on earth receiving 174 newspapers per day).[9][10]
    • According to International Data Corporation, the total amount of global data is expected to grow to 2.7 zettabytes during 2012. This is 48% up from 2011.[11]
    • Mark Liberman calculated the storage requirements for all human speech ever spoken at 42 zettabytes if digitized as 16 kHz 16-bit audio. This was done in response to a popular expression that states "all words ever spoken by human beings" could be stored in approximately 5 exabytes of data (see exabyte for details). Liberman did "freely confess that maybe the authors [of the exabyte estimate] were thinking about text."[12]
    • Research from the University of Southern California reports that in 2007, humankind successfully sent 1.9 zettabytes of information through broadcast technology such as televisions and GPS.[13]
    • Research from the University of California, San Diego reports that in 2008, Americans consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information.
  • Internet Traffic to Reach 1.3 Zettabytes by 2016

Yottabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

Xenottabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

Shilentnobyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

Domegemegrottebyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)

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Reader Comments (81)

if you have
10^6=1,000,000 this is equivalent to 1 million
10^9=1,000,000,000 = 1billion
10^12=1,000,000,000,000=1 trillion
but in basic binary numbers,
if you say:
2^10=1,024=1 Kb (Kilobytes)
2^20=1,048,576= 1 Mb (Megabytes)
2^30=1,073,741,824= 1 Gb (Gigabytes)
2^40=1.0995116e+12= 1Tb (Terabytes)
The values are not exact, that why it is not called as the linear numerical equivalent as mentioned above. The remaining value was just being rounded-off. But have you ever wandered why when memories for harddisk, mp3, cellphone memories, RAM or other stuff were developed, the succession or interval was in reference on base-2 (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, etc) as commented previously, because it is not linear but in binary or base-2 numeral system.
However, this is the computer standards before, but now due to confusions an industry standard has been amended to come up with this:
Value Metric
1000 k kilo
1000^2 M mega
1000^3 G giga
1000^4 T tera
1000^5 P peta
1000^6 E exa
1000^7 Z zetta
1000^8 Y yotta
Value IEC
1024 Ki kibi
1024^2 Mi mebi
1024^3 Gi gibi
1024^4 Ti tebi
1024^5 Pi pebi
1024^6 Ei exbi
1024^7 Zi zebi
1024^8 Yi yobi
BUT, until now there are still discrepancies between different groups that's why there are still misconceptions about this. Maybe in time when information have been disseminated properly then everybody would understand these changes.
You can search "BINARY Prefixes" for further references.

July 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersimpleminds

This article is so far off base it is not even funny. It is truly amazing how morons can confuse 1,000 Kb with 1,024 KB. I will bet you only a select few will even be able to distinguish the difference. And before you THINK you know, let me inform you this bit of information to set the record straight without all the "over-your-head" mumbo-jumbo.

1,000 Kb (Kilobits) was introduced as measurement for DATA TRANSFERS.
1,024 KB (Kilobytes) has always been used to measure DATA STORAGE.

If you think otherwise for whatever ignorant reason you feel justified you can stuff it and your comments. Because you cannot change what is being taught. Just because you are too lazy to read or pay attention in some computer class. Or maybe it was perhaps you were taught by someone who was just as confused as you were.

I am an IT Professional since 1991 with a very good education specialized in Networking Technology and over 23+ years of real world experience.

I hope for all this SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT and ends this confusion.

July 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDoc

If we can think about it, it's still small.

September 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Williams

Doc, that's the most straight forward sensible explanations I have heard for the differences


1,000 Kb (Kilobits) was introduced as measurement for DATA TRANSFERS.
1,024 KB (Kilobytes) has always been used to measure DATA STORAGE.

I'm from an IT background pre-dating yourself :-)

Also, part of the confusion is because hardware manufacturers seized on the marketing opportunity to make their STORAGE devices appear better than the competitors by playing on the ignorance of the public, who, as you have correctly implied, have not bothered to educate themselves

What they did was use kilobits to measure their devices capacity, automatically making them appear to store more than their competitors who used the proper Kilobytes to measure their storage device capacity

It's not always the public who are stupid but it's often the low life manufacturers who play on the ignorance of consumers - for example, wasn't it Samsung who introduced the Grey to Grey pixel switch timing on monitors instead of the White to Black, there-by reducing the number to make it appear that their panels switched quicker? That sucked in a lot of ignorant people too

The world is getting dumber by the day as people refuse to do their own research and learning, they want to be spoon-fed via the ijunk devices and in the process get fleeced accordingly!

A Latin phrase for "let the buyer beware.

October 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbob

Wow... So wrong.

People don't seem to realize that unlike meters and grams, which uses the base-10 number system, Computers use the base-2 number system, thus the measurements are not the same. Just because in base-10 "kilo" means 1000 of something, 1Km=1000m or 1Kg=1000g. In base-2, Kilo represents 2^10 which is 1024. NOT 1000. Mega is 2^20, Giga 2^30, Terra is 2^40, Peta is 2^50, Exa is 2^60, Zeta is 2^70, Yotta is 2^80, Xenotta is 2^90, Shilentno is 2^100, and Domegemegrotte would be 2^110.

1=1 Byte. 2^0
1024=1 Kilobyte. 2^10
1048576=1 Megabyte. 2^20
1073741824=1 Gigabyte. 2^30
1099511627776=1 terabyte. 2^40
1125899906842624=1 Petabyte. 2^50
1152921504606846976=1 Exabyte. 2^60
1180591620717411303424=1 Zettabyte. 2^70
1208925819614629174706176=1 Yottabyte. 2^80
1237940039285380274899124224=1 Xenottabyte. 2^90
1267650600228229401496703205376=1 Shilentnobyte. 2^100
1298074214633706907132624082305024=1 Domegemegrottebyte. 2^110

Do you see the bloody pattern? whatever comes after Domegemegrottebyte, would be at 2^120.

FUN FACT: With the exception to 2^0, you can divide each by 1024. (2^110)/1024=2^100, (2^100)/1024=2^90...etc.

People needs to learn how things work in binary, before making claims that "1000 bytes = 1 kilobyte" and what not.

November 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNight Sage

I have to agree with Joe. In the thirty odd years I have worked and 'played' with computers and in the many technical roles I have held, I have to admit this was my first introduction to the KibiByte. I couldn't believe what I was reading and I was going to express my astonishment, when during my further reading/research on the subject I stumbled across the following article. As the author, Brian Grainger, correctly states not all you read on the web is true, however in this case the younger generation should take note as this is standards gone mad!


Couldn't agree with Brian more.

As the saying goes: "There are 10 kinds of people.Those who understand binary those who dont."

November 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Coghlan

Actually adam was right, data is still measured in units of 1024 by electronics. ITs us humans that round down to 1000. thats why my 3 terabyte drive is not quite 3 terabytes in size...
all data is measured in multiples of 8 in the computer world. Data transfer is still measured in MEGABITS, not MEGABYTES.

November 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMathais

ive noticed how people are just buttholes that think they know everything no matter how much you learn u still dont know anything! lol want an easy way to know something? GOOGLE lol and try to be nice to each other this comment section looks like a bunch of kids talking smack

December 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternerdboner

but i thought 1 byte was a binary decision?

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDURRRP

If I only have a 3 tb external hard drive for my xbox 1, I foresee yottabyte being a digital playground. Astonishing how far we can push the size of memory.

December 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMilkysoul

To all those involved in the 1000vs1024 controversy:
Before you post, please heed Simpleminds' post (above), and execute the following algorithm:
(1) Take the time to read and understand:
(2) think
(3) post your comment

February 23, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterlistener11

Yottabyte is not named after the Star Wars character. It's from a Greek-based prefix -

March 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin Marty

I use a Chewbaccabyte drive for my “GGRRWWWRRRWARRRHHHHWWWW” really big files.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBlood Agar

it would take more then 1 googleplex xtimes a Domegemegrottebyte to fit the data that goes throughout the universe for 1 day

April 6, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjoshua

I started working at Hewlett Packard in 1975 and later we were making hard drives as big as a washing machine. They were a whopping 404 megabytes and cost about

$35,000 dollars. I never dreamed that someday I would have a 2 terabyte home P.C. Today I bought an external 1 terabyte drive for $60. Amazing.

June 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve D Boise Idaho

No matter how big...Microsoft will find a way to add bloatware to fill it up :) One of the first word processors, Wordstar, ran on 360kb. It did not have the features of MS Word, but the code was much tighter...

August 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlbert

8 bits = 1 Byte

But did you know that 4 bits = 1 nibble

August 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMystic Merlin

Regarding the disagreement between 1024 vs 1000 for a kilobyte (1,048,576 vs 1,000,000 for megabyte, etc) - there is a standard for memory (1,024,etc) and a separate standard for processing (1,000 etc).
Also, under 5, 20, 200 gigabytes as well as 2 terabytes - the author compares that amount of storage in exabytes. If one exabyte = 1,000,000 gigabytes and 1,000 petabytes, the author is way off after converting to exabytes.

October 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVince

using this as my help for an assignment, ended up laughing my head off at the comments.

November 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeatthesystem

how to solve following example:

A cloud uses 2000 nodes for data processing and has a processing capacity of 50 GB per hour.
considering the charges as 0.4USD per node per hour, calculate the total cost and time required for processing one zettabyte of data on this cloud

November 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBalasaheb Khansole

As far as I am aware 1 gigabyte is still 1024 megabytes just computers are programmed to show it as 1000 to make it more simple for all you new generation computer users who don't know your multiplication :p

November 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWolfy

Vince, there is a cultural genocide occurring, where they want to get rid of people who disagree with them as 'ignorant non-SI people' like this isn't some arbitrary thing that should be decided by the experts who actually used the units every day. Start with the youth, as a previous commenter said. This is going to bite (byte?) us in the rear, when it means that they have to abandon MB entirely, since they actively 'poisoned' the education 'well'. It's some stupid ego game that some physicist decided to use against actual programmers.

December 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Seagate already released 60 Tb hdds

December 26, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterkarsaa

Actually blame hardware makers. Ram makers used 1024 for engineering reasons which didn't affect HDDs and so HDDs used 1000. You are all correct in a way. I'm so old. Hat tip to Trejkaz.

January 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterWhitefallgen

This is what You all must knw...
About a million bytes is a Megabyte
About a billion bytes in a Gigabyte
About a trillion bytes is a Terabyte
About a quadrillion bytes is a Petabyte
About a quintillion bytes is an Exabyte
About a sextillion bytes is a Yottabyte
About an octillion bytes is a Xenottabyte
About a nonillion bytes is a Shilentnobyte
About a decillion is a Domegemegrottebyte
....Study it and Know it....

January 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAdonuja Gabe

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