How to Remember Which is Bigger – B,K,M,G,T…

How to Remember Which is Bigger – B,K,M,G,T…

A few bits (8 to be exact) make up a byte. A byte is approximately 1 letter or 1 number. (Some special characters require 2 or more bytes.) In the Metric system for computerese, each step up is a 1000 times larger. Thus 1 MB is 1000 KBs. Let’s keep this article simple and stick with that. Our main purpose here is to help you not mix up a Megabyte with a Gigabyte and give you some idea how big each is.

Byte Kings Manage Grand Terabytes Pending Examens
(Incidentally, an examens is a scrutiny of one’s conscience)

Byte Kings Manage Grand Terabytes Pending Examens” gives in order the first letters of the Byte, Kilobyte, Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte, Petabyte, and Exabyte. In reverse, the sizes are as follows: 1 Exabyte = 1000 Petabyte = 1000×1000 Terabytes = 1000x1000x1000 Gigabytes = 1000x1000x1000x1000 Megabytes = 1000x1000x1000x1000x1000 Kilobytes = 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes (characters).

Suppose you have an Internet connection that permits 10 Mbps (Megabytes per second). So in theory, you can transfer 10 megabytes in 1 second (roughly a few songs or photos). Now here is a table of how long it would take at this speed to transfer 1000 Megabytes, then 1000 Gigabytes, and so on.

Amount of DataRough ExampleTransferred at 10 Mbps (slow Internet)
1000 Bytes (= 1 KB)A short email1/10 of a second
1000 Megabytes (= 1 GB)An email with too many attachments100 seconds (about 2 min)
1000 Gigabytes (= 1 TB)Your entire hard disk contents100,000 seconds ( about 27 hours)
1000 Terabytes (= 1 PB)The content of the Public Library27,000 hours (about 3 years)
1000 Petabytes (= 1 EB)On the order of Google’s ServersAt that speed you better bury a time capsule (Get a T3 instead)
1000 Exabytes All Online Services combined, since the Internet Age began.The Millennium will have come and gone

Here are a few real-world sizes that come into our office daily. Assuming we want to image the entire drive to a new drive, and with a fast computer can achieve about 5 GB/minute, here is how long it will take:

Desktop PC used for 5 years, 1 TB drive, 50% full ( 500GB)500 / 5 = 100 min or about 2 hours
Laptop lightly used, 1 TB drive, 10% full (100GB)100 / 5 = 20 min
A failing backup drive, 5 TB in size (5000 GB), recovered to a new drive5 TB = 5000 GB / 5 = 1000 min, about 17 hours
An old slow drive, 320 GB copied at 1 GB/minute using the computer it came out of320 minutes, about 5 hours

For completeness, drive imaging often must be done twice – once to save a failing drive before it gets worse, and a second time to get the saved data over to the new drive that will be installed into the computer. With a working machine, drive imaging can be done without disassembling the device. But if device is unresponsive, then time must be permitted for physically removing the drive from the machine as well.

Back to the byte matter: Byte Kings Manage Grand Terabytes. Beyond that is impractical for home and office users. A 2 hour movie is typically 4 GB that fits on a DVD. If you downloaded a movie every day for a year, you would need 4 GB x 365 days = 1460 GB or about 1.5 TB — you can get a 2 TB back up drive and be happy for more than a year’s worth of movies for about $70 (as of 2024).

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