Byte Size Matters

Byte Size Matters

How much drive space a computer needs is relative to one’s lifestyle practices. For most people, a few hundred Gigabytes of storage will last the life of the computer, which is about 10 years.  (If you hear about Gibibytes, it is technically a more accurate measure of drive size because it is based on the binary that computers actually use rather that the Gigabyte which is equal to exactly 1,000,000,000 bytes.)  So how big is a Gig or Gib?  Well that would be one thousand millions.  Now a million dollars might last 10 years if you were conservative with it in today’s economy, but a thousand millions would certainly tide you and your grandchildren over into the next centuries.

A typical digital photograph runs around 1 megabyte = 1000 KB.   Now suppose you took 100 pictures a day and stored them on your computer. How long before you used up a 500 Gigabyte drive?   Well first, lets subtract about 100 Gigabytes for the operating system and other stuff you already have on the drive.  So now we are down to 400 GB free. Converted, that equals about 400, 000 MB.  So if each picture is 1 MB, and you take 100 a day, that would be 100 MB a day. Dividing 400,000 MB by 100 MB/day gives 4,000 days, or further divided by 365 days/year gives almost 11 years of use.  Now, what are the chances you are actually going to store 100 pictures every-single day for the next 11 years?

How about videos?  The standard 4.7 GB DVD on which many movies still come today store about 2 hours of movie plus a few previews and trailers.  For ease of computation we will round up to 5 GB and say 5 GB equals about 2 hours video.  How many hours video will 400 GB hold?  400/5 = 80 x 2 hours = 160 hours or about a week’s worth of video if you wanted to watch videos 24 hours a day for a solid week.  Our previous daily picture example yielded about 11 years of use, while storing one video each day will allow about 80 days of watching or almost 3 months of videos every-single day.  In all likelihood, the average person would only watch one or two full-length movies each week or less on average.  Thus the storage space would be sufficient for a number of years of use.


For most people today 500 GB of drive space is more than enough.  Like a large filing cabinet, oversizing it will just leave room for clutter that gets forever lost and forgotten.  A professional cinematographer may desire a larger drive, such as the Tera-byte drive = 1,000 Gigabytes, which is twice the size of a 500 GB drive.  Larger drives may be more prone to failure, primarily because more platters must be squeezed into a small space, and thus more heat is generated, more mechanics for failure, and so on. Bigger simply isn’t always better when it comes to drive sizes.  A good average size is best, with redundancy of drives.

B.A. Computer Services can assist you in drive replacements, drive arrays, and other disk storage needs.  Call us now at 903-243-9588.

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