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Mar 08

Reader Question: How much data is that and what can I get for it?


I received an email this morning from Janet asking the following “When my broadband provider says I have a 10GB limit. How much data is 10GB”

In today’s high tech world the terms Megabytes, Gigabytes, Terabytes and (in the not too distant future) Petabytes are used more and more often but not really understood. For example your mobile or broadband probably has a data limit on it expressed as 10GB but what does this mean?

These are all terms used to describe the volume of data. For example that email you just wrote was probably about 50 Kilobytes, the photo you just uploaded to Facebook was probably about 1 megabyte, or maybe the missed episode of eastenders you are watching is 200 Megabytes. It is very difficult to say exactly how much data you use as it all depends on the sites you visit for example a site with flashy graphics and videos streaming will use much more than a basic text and image site. With that been said the below should give a very rough idea

With 1GB you can (taken from a well know providers website which is overestimating to be honest)

  • Download 100 music tracks (roughly 7 albums)
  • Listen to about 18 hours of online radio (128Kbps stream)
  • Watch approximately 3 hours on iPlayer
  • Surf the web for 12 hours (Normal text and image sites)
  • Send around 1500 emails

It is also worth knowing the following:

A Kilobyte is 1,024 bytes.
A Megabyte is 1,024 Kilobytes
A Gigabyte is 1,024 Megabytes
A Terabyte is 1,024 Gigabytes
A Petabyte is 1,024 Terabytes

Below is a list of different terms used to measure data and some real world examples. (Collated from the web)

Bytes (8 bits)

0.125 bytes: Yes or No
1 byte: One character
2 bytes:
5 bytes
10 bytes: One word (a word of language, not a computer word)
20 bytes:
50 bytes:
100 bytes: Telegram; two punched computer (Hollerith) cards
200 bytes:
500 bytes:

Kilobyte
1,024 bytes; 210;
approx. 1,000 or 10 3

1 Kilobyte: Joke or very short story
2 Kilobytes: Written page
10 Kilobytes: Page out of an encyclopaedia
20 Kilobytes:
50 Kilobytes: Image of a document page, compressed
100 Kilobytes: Photograph, low-resolution
200 Kilobytes:
500 Kilobytes: Large website image

Megabyte
1,048,576 bytes; 220;
approx 1,000,000 or 10 6

1 Megabyte: Small novel
2 Megabytes: Photograph, high resolution
5 Megabytes: Complete works of Shakespeare; 30 seconds  video, an MP3
10 Megabytes: Minute of high-fidelity sound; digital chest X-ray;
20 Megabytes: Two boxes of floppy’s
50 Megabytes: 6 Minute Video
100 Megabytes: Two encyclopaedia volumes
200 Megabytes: 800 Books (200 pages)
500 Megabytes: CD-ROM

Gigabyte
1,073,741,824 bytes; 230;
approx 1,000,000,000 or 10 9

1 Gigabyte: Paper in the bed of a pickup; symphony in high-fidelity sound; broadcast quality movie
2 Gigabytes: 682 digital pictures
5 Gigabytes: Slightly larger than a DVD (4.7GB)
10 Gigabytes: 2 DVDS
20 Gigabytes: Audio collection of the works of Beethoven;
50 Gigabytes: Library floor of books on shelves, 2 blu ray Discs
100 Gigabytes: 34000 Digital Photos
200 Gigabytes: 200 Streamed movies

Terabyte
1,099,511,627,776 or 240;
approx. 1,000,000,000,000 or 10 12

1 Terabyte: all the X-ray films in a large technological hospital; 50,000 trees made into paper and printed; Approximately 218 DVDS
2 Terabytes: Little over 9 million books (200 pages)
10 Terabytes: 45 Million books stored in libraries
50 Terabytes: 11650 DVDS


Petabyte
1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes or 250
approx. 1,000,000,000,000,000 or 10 15

1 Petabyte: Over 2000 DVDS
2 Petabytes: 715,827,882 Digital Pictures
20 Petabytes: 1995 production of hard-disk drives
200 Petabytes: All printed material in the world(2008)

Exabyte
1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes or 260
approx. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10 18

5 Exabyte’s: All words ever spoken by human beings.

Zettabyte
1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424 bytes or 270
approx. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10 21

1 Zettabyte: 4,919,131,752,989,213 books

Yottabyte
1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bytes or 280
approx. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10 24

Data was collected from a variety of sites including http://www.jamesshuggins.com/