TeraGibiMega Jumble

TeraGibiMega Jumble

If you think Computer Geeks all speak in tongues, no not all of them. Here is a quick reference guide to help you with the storage size language:

Inside the computer the smallest piece of information is a bit but in real world, no one needs to talk about bits because even a single character is the next smallest unit up, a byte. Counting bits and bytes is like counting kernels of sand on the beach. Typically one would not count the letters in a document, but might count the words or pages. Similarly, typically one wound not measure how many letters a memory stick can hold, but would measure how many megabytes it holds.

Memory sticks, and drives are measured in megabytes (MB) or Gigabytes (GB). Mega- is thousands of, so instead of counting every grain on the beach, take a scoop of sand and call it a megabyte of sand. If one scoop isn’t enough for your castle, then get two scoops, or 64 scoops, or 128 scoops. M could represent Measuring-cup-full.

Disk drives are long term storage devices meant to last for years. Today drives come in Gigabyte capacities. Giga- is a thousand times bigger than a mega-. Instead of thinking measuring-cup full, think of a barrel of sand. You might want 100 barrels of sand to fill in a land depression–100 Gigabytes is enough to install Windows and have minimal space available for your documents, just as 100 barrels of sand may be enough to create a small backyard pool area.

If you have 1000 barrels of sand, you now have a tera- amount of sand. Perhaps you have seen a pile of sand or rocks near a road construction site. That might be a few tera-grains of sand. A terabyte drive is therefore quite a sum of bytes. Typical drive sizes today hold 500GB (= 1/2 Terabyte), 750 GB (=3/4 Terabyte), 1 TB, or 2TB. You can figure with a Tera-grain pile of fertilizer, it will spread out for years. So it is with a Terabyte drive. Usually a half Terabyte, the same as a 500GB drive, is sufficient for the life of the computer for most people.

Incidentally, the difference between a Mega- and Mibi- or a Giga- and a Gibi- is that all the -gas are 1000 times greater while all the -ibis are 1024 times greater. The number closest to 1000 in a power of 2 is 1024 and is often used because computers speak binary: 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 = 1024 = 2^10

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